Simpson Park

Simpson Park Reese River Dry Creek

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This area was named for Captain J.H. Simpson who first visited here on May 27, 1859 and spent the night in the vicinity. He gave the following description:

"The lake we are on is several acres in extent. Ducks frequent it. The grass about it and along the creek is quite luxuriant, and expands in places into meadows of considerable area. Cedar is found on the heights. Should it become necessary to establish a post, say near the east entrance of Won-a-ho-nupe Canyon, the grass, water, and timber of this mountain range would be amply sufficient, and tine granite building-stone could be found in the canyon.

"The party has given my name to this lake, park and pass; and also to the creek, but as it has been my rule to preserve the Indian names, whenever I can ascertain them, and Won-a-ho-nupe is the name of the creek, I shall continue so to call it."

Simpson Park Station, built in the spring of 1860, is one of the original Pony Express stations.

Problems arose early at this station. On June 2, 1860, Road Agent William Finney received a dispatch from Carson City advising him that the station at Simpson Park had been attacked and razed on May 20. Apparently six Pike's Peakers found the body of the station keeper, James Alcott, horribly mutilated and all the animals missing.

William H. Streeper, one of the carriers of the heavy mail and a part-time Pony Express rider, described reaching Simpson Park one day in May and finding the station burned, the stock gone and the keeper dead.

An appeal was made for seventy-five soldiers to be distributed as far east as Simpson Park and Dry Creek. This appeal was denied so Agent Finney and Bolivar Roberts gathered their own men and traversed the line. Later soldiers were sent along the line from Camp Floyd to protect the mail and the emigrants.

Sir Richard Burton described the station on October 13 1860:

"The station house in Simpson Park was being rebuilt. As we issued from Marmandom into Christendora, the civility of our hosts perceptibly diminished; the Judge, like the generality of Anglo Americans, did unnecessary kow-tow to those whom republicanism made his equals, and the 'gentlemen' when to do anything became exceedingly surly. Among them was one Giovanni Butisch, a Venetian who flying from conscription had found a home in Halifax; an unfortunate fire which burned down his house drove him to the Far West. He talked copiously of the old country, breathed the usual aspirations of Italia land, and thought that Garibaldi would do well `se non lo molestano' - a euphemism accompanied by a look more expressive than any rod. The station was well provided with good minie's, and the men apparently expected to use them; it was however, commanded by the neighboring heights, and the haystacks were exposed to fire at a time of the year when no more forage could be collected. The Venetian made for us some good light bread of wheaten flour, started or leavened with hop-water, and corn bread 'shortened' with butter, and enriched with two or three eggs. A hideous Pa-Yuta and surly Shoshone, whom I sketched, loitered about the station. They were dressed in the usual rabbit-skin cape, and carried little horn bows, with which they missed small marks at fifteen paces. The boys, who were now a-weary of watching, hired one of these men for a shirt - tobacco was not to be had and a blanket was too high pay - to mount guard through the night. Like the Paggi or Ramoosee of W. India, one thief is paid to keep off many; the Indian is the best of warden, it being with him a principle not to attack what the presence of a fellow tribesman defends."

George Washington Perkins or "Wash" was a rider on the run between this station and Ruby Valley. In 1861 William James was hired on the run from here to Cold Springs. At eighteen, he was one of the best Pony Express riders in the service. He rode only sixty miles each way but covered his round trip of one hundred and twenty miles in 12 hours including all stops. He always rode California mustangs, using five of these animals each way. His route crossed the summits of two mountain ridges, lay through the Shoshone Indian country and was one of the loneliest and most dangerous divisions on the line.

Simpson Park was probably used by the Overland Mail and Stage Line from July 1861 to 1862 or 1863, when the run was changed to go through Austin. A visitor to the station in 1949 gave this impression of what was left:

Simpson Park The station foundations are visible. At the mouth of Simpson Park Canyon on the east side of Simpson Park lies a fenced meadow. Peter and Bennie Damele said the foundations were on a little mound in the east end of the meadow near an old fenced corral. The stone foundations outline probably two structures. The land is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Howard Wolf of Austin.

Source: Mason, The Pony Express in Nevada, 1976.

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