Thunderheads building up over the Ruby Marsh in Ruby Valley looking east towards the Maverick Springs Range. The Ruby Mountains are to the west. The area elevation is about 6,000 feet and more than 200 springs feed into Ruby Marsh creating an extensive bulrush marsh with open water areas and is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. Fort Ruby and the Pony Express sites are located to the south of this picture. Ruby Valley extends from a portion of the northwest corner of White Pine County, Nevada with its largest part in Elko County, Nevada. Shaputis photo
Ruby Valley is 70 miles long and averages 10 miles wide and runs in a north and south direction. The valley was used by the Shoshone and Goshute Indians long before the white man arrived.
The first white man to enter Ruby Valley was Jedediah Smith when he crossed the southern end of the valley in 1827 while traveling from California to the Great Salt Lake.
Next, in 1846, the ill-fated Donner party traveled down Ruby Valley into White Pine County while searching for the Hastings cut-off and lost several precious days here before being caught in the unseasonable early snowstorms on what is now Donner Pass.
The Donner party was followed by Lt. E. G. Beckwith in 1854 while searching for Rail Road routes. Beckwith was followed by Major Howard Egan when he opened the Central Route in 1858. Captain James Simpson surveyed Ruby Valley in 1859 when he surveyed the Central Route. This route became the Egan - Simpson Trail.
Col. William "Uncle Billy" Rogers was the first white settler in Ruby Valley when he came to the Valley in 1859 as Indian Agent to the local Shoshone Indians. Rogers settled at Overland Creek
Fort Ruby was established in 1862 in the southern end of the valley to protect the Overland Stages carrying mail and passengers from Indian attacks after the Pony Express was discontinued. Fort Ruby was discontinued and closed in 1869. Owners of the Fort Ruby site over the years were the U. S. Army, Mr. Kelly, J. O. Tognoni, Joe and Telio Tognoni, Carl Maves, Roy Harris and Arthur "Bing" Gerard, Tom Haire, Warren Richardson, Andrew C. Anderson, Karen Anderson Theil and Dick Thiel, and now, Lynn Goodfellow. Several Fort Ruby soldiers remained after being mustered out of the Army to settle in Ruby Valley as ranchers and farmers.
Some of these Fort Ruby soldiers were:
Col. Jeremiah P. Moore settled the present Lourinda R. Wines (Mrs. J. B.) Ranch (Buckle D Ranch) after commanding Fort Ruby in 1863.
William Meyers settled the present Lloyd Meyer Ranch
James Meyers settled the present James K. Stonier Ranch. This ranch was owned by actor Joel McCrea at one time.
John Helth settled the present Duval Ranch Company
Mickey Flynn settled the present Shantytown site
Some of the earliest civilian settlers were:
Col. William " Uncle Billy Rogers settled the present Saxton "Rock House" Ranch
A. G. Dawley settled the present Walter Gardener Ranch and is buried there.
Joseph William "Joe Billy" Smith settled the present Raymond Gardener Home Ranch
Ira Wines settled the present U. X. Livestock Co holding of the old Robert Connolly Ranch.
Leonard Wines settled the present Leonard Wines Ranch (Old Overland Ranch)
Norman Wines settled the present Walter and Cliff Gardner (W. C.) Cattle Co.
Thomas Short settled the present Ruby Valley Refuge Headquarters at Cave Creek.
All of the above Ruby Valley settlers supplied freighters, the stage lines, Fort Ruby and Fort Halleck with grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, cured pork and beef. Several ranches that are owned by descendants of the original settlers in Ruby Valley continue to operate.
Today the Valley is visited by tourists and others to fish, hunt, camp and observe the birds and wildlife on the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Dr. Harry M. Gallagher Fish Hatchery that raises eggs and trout for stocking the rivers, lakes and streams of Nevada.
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
HC 60, Box 860
Ruby Valley, NV 89833
The Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was purchased from Albert Hankins and established in 1938/39 by the U. S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service.The refuge covers 37,632 acres in the south end of Ruby Valley. At one time the area was covered by a 200 foot deep, 3000,800-acre lake known as Franklin Lake. Presently 12,000 acres of marshland remain on the refuge grounds. North of the refuge is a 15,000-acre seasonal wetland that is now referred to as Franklin Lake.
Over 207 species of birds have been observed on or near the refuge. The refuge is a major waterfowl area and provides a feeding, nesting and resting stop in the Pacific Flyway. Ruby Marsh is noted for its excellent wildlife viewing and fishing.
The staff at the Refuge Headquarters has many handouts and maps for the visitors and are helpful and very knowledgeable of the area and its history. Books on birds and plants can be purchased at the Headquarters including an excellent book produced by the Ruby Valley Friendship Club called "Through the Years with the Ruby Valley News." This book is a fascinating account of the history of Ruby Valley and its early inhabitants through the early 1990's. Local residents have contributed their histories and many of the ranches are still owned by descendants of the early settlers.
Campgrounds are available but there are no stores or gas stations in the area.
Click to enlarge to see another view of Ruby Marsh. Shaputis photo
Dr. Harry M. Gallagher Fish Hatchery
HC 60, Box 870
Ruby Valley, NV 89833
The Ruby Valley Fish Hatchery was established in 1940 by Elko County. The first structures consisted of one residence, a storehouse, hatchery and some small rearing ponds. In 1964, the State assumed responsibility for the hatchery. It was named for Dr. Harry M. Gallagher on August 26, 1967 when the new buildings and raceway were dedicated. By 1979, several small additions were made. Raceways for brood fish were built and the building was modernized for increased egg production. The facility continues to make small improvements to keep up with modern technology.
It is well worth a bit of your time to visit and see how they produce trout to stock the lakes and streams of northern Nevada. The hatchery raises Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Brook trout, Tiger trout and cutthroat trout. Since The Gallagher Fish Hatchery has produced Trout eggs to supply other hatcheries in the state besides their own needs since 1949. They raise between 600,000 and 700,000 fish each year and average two million eggs per year depending on water levels and biologists' recommendations.
The Gallagher Fish Hatchery staff works 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The staff are friendly and very willing to answer questions you may have. Pamphlets, brochures and maps of the area are available for handouts.
Fish feeding time at the hatchery. Shaputis photo.
"Nevada's Northeast Frontier" by Edna B. Patterson, Louise A. Ulph and Victor Goodwin
"Through the Years with the Ruby Valley News 1976 - 1993" by the Ruby Valley Friendship Club
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge Brochure
Dr. Harry M. Gallagher Fish Hatchery Brochure
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