Robert's Creek

Robert's Creek Sulphur Springs Grubb's Well

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Captain J.H. Simpson spent the nights of May 21 and May 22 at this site in 1859. He says:

". . . She-o-wi-te Creek, a fine one, 4 feet wide, l foot deep and quite rapid. It sinks about 1 rnile below camp. Grass along it and on side-hills."

He talked with the Indians who said they were few in number. This site seemed to be one of the Indian camps.

This was one of the original Pony Express stations built in the spring of 1860. It is difficult to say whether Bolivar Roberts or Howard Egan built Robert's Creek. Some accounts say Bolivar Roberts and his crew built stations as far east as Robert's Creek. However, Burton (1963) says Robert's Creek was the western most extent of Egan's division.

Indian troubles began early at Robert's Creek station. On the Pony's second trip on April 13 from St. Joseph, the first instance of Indian troubles occurred as if a warning of what was to come. At the time, newspapers gave it little notice, reporting that the Express was delayed six hours at Robert's Creek by marauding Indians who had driven off the horses at the station.

On W.H. Streeper's trip from Diamond Springs to Smith Creek - where he found Simpson Park and Dry Creek burned - he spent the night at Robert's Creek on the way west. Streeper's comments on Robert's Creek are confusing on his return trip. It seems however that the station was still intact at the time of his return. He did say that Indians were threatening them near Robert's Creek. Streeper's trip was made around May 21, 1860.

On May 31, C. H. Ruffin, a Pony Express employee, wrote William W. Finney in San Francisco that he and others had been driven out of Cold Springs Station by an Indian attack on the night of May 29. He also said the men at Dry Creek had been killed and it was thought that the Robert's Creek Station had been destroyed.

By June 9 a party composed of Pony Express riders, station keepers, and stock tenders was made up. On that date Bolivar Roberts set out eastward to rebuild destroyed stations and restock them. This time the buildings were better constructed and five men left to occupy each one until the Indian troubles were over. On June 16 they met Howard Egan at Robert's Creek.

Some of the riders that passed through Robert's Creek included John Fisher , Mike Kelly and Mose Wright.

On October 10, 1860, Sir Richard Burton visited Robert's Creek Station and made these comments:

" . . . instinct told us that there lay the station-house. From the hills rose the smokes of Indian fires; the lands belong to the Tusawichya or White Knives,a band of the Shoshones under an independent chief. This depression is known to the Yutas as Sheawit or Willow Creek; the whites call it, from Mr. Bolivar Roberts, the Western agent `Robert's Springs Valley.' "It lies 286 miles from Camp Floyd; from this point 'Simpson's Road' strikes off to the S. E. and as Mr. Howard Egan's rule here terminates it is considered the latter end of Mormondom. Like all the stations to the westward, that is to say, those who rode before us, it was burned down in the late Indian troubles, and has only been partially rebuilt. One of the employees was Mr. Mose Wright, of Illinois, who again kindly assisted me with correcting my vocabulary.

"About the station loitered several Indians of the White-Knife tribe, which boasts, like the old Sioux and the modern Flatheads, never to have stained its weapons with the blood of a white man. They may be a respectable race, but they are ugly; they resemble the Diggers, and the children are not a little like juvenile baboons. The dress was the usual medley of rags and rabbit furs; they were streaked with vermilion; and their hair - contrary to and more sensibly than the practice of our grandfathers - was fastened into a frontal pigtail, to prevent it falling into the eyes. These men attend upon the station, and herd the stock, for an occasional meal, their sole payment. They will trade their skins and peltries for arms and gunpowder, but, African-like, they are apt to look upon provisions, beads and tobacco in the light of presents.

"A long march of thirty-five miles lay before us. Kennedy resolved to pass the night at Sheawit Creek, and, despite their grumbling, sent on the boys, the stock, and the wagons, when rested from their labour, in the early afternoon. We spent a cozy pleasant evening - such as 1 have enjoyed in the old Italian days before railroads - or travelers' tittle and Monchen tattle, in the single corner and round the huge hearth of the half finished station, with its holey walls. At intervals, the roarings of the wind, the ticking of the death watch (a well known xylophagous,) boring a home in the soft cottonwood rafters, and the howlings of the Indians, who were keening at a neighboring grave, formed a rude and appropriate chorus. Mose Wright (a rider for the Pony Express) recounted his early adventures in Oregon; how, when he was a greenhorn, the Indians had danced the war dance under his nose, had then set upon his companions, and after slaying them had displayed their scalps. . .

"Mose Wright described the Indian arrow-poison. The rattlesnake - the copperhead and the moccasin he ignored - is caught with a forked stick planted over its neck, and is allowed to fix its fangs in an antelope's liver. The meat, which turns green, is carried upon a skewer when wanted for use: the flint head of an arrow, made purposely to break in the wound, is thrust into the poison, and when withdrawn is covered with a thin coat of glue. Ammonia is considered a cure for it and the Indians treat snake bites with the actual cautery. . .

"Amongst the employees of the station was an intelligent young mechanic from Pennsylvania, who, threatened with consumption, had sought and soon found health in the pure regions of the Rocky Mountains. He looked forward to revisiting civilisation, where comforts were attainable. In these wilds little luxuries like tea and coffee are often unprocurable; a dudeen or a cutty pipe sells for a dollar consequently a hollowed potato or corncob with a reed tube is often rendered necessary; and tobacco must be mixed with a myrtaceous leaf called by the natives 'timaya', and by the mountaineers 'lath' - possibly a corruption of 'I'herbe' or 'la yerba'. Newspapers and magazines arrive sometimes twice a year, when they have weathered the dangers of the way. Economy has deprived the stations of their gardens, and the shrinking of emigration, which now dribbles eastward, instead of flowing in a full stream westward, leaves the exiles to amuse themselves."

The winter of 1861 was a difficult one for the Indians. As scanty as their own supplies often were, station keepers at times found it necessary to supply the Indians with food. Sometimes this was done as a matter of policy to keep the Indians friendly, other times it was done merely as an act of humanity. The Salt Lake City Deseret News in its February 20, 1861 issue described one of these incidents:

"A person in the service of the mail and express company, situated on the route between this city and Carson, was in our office a few days since, and reported that the snow was very deep in places along the route; that the weather had been very cold, and that the Indians, particularly in the vicinity of Robert's Creek Station were in a destitute and starving condition. One Indian was recently found dead within a half mile of the station, who had perished of cold and starvation while on his way there for food. Another had fallen down nearby from exhaustion, badly frozen, who was seen taken to the station and resuscitated before it was too late to save his life. Such a state of things among the red men is truly deplorable, but perhaps there is no way at present of ameliorating their condition."

On August 6, 1861, the San Francisco Bulletin printed over its dispatches:

"By telegraph to Fort Kearney from St. Louis, thence by Pony Express to Robert's Creek Station, thence by telegraph to San Francisco."

Robert's Creek Robert's Creek Pony Express Station was a telegraph station as well as an Overland Stage Station. It was an Overland stop until 1869.

The site of the station is now on the Robert's Creek Ranch owned by Filbert Etcheverry of Bakersfield, California. Peter Damele noted the old Pony Express station, a log structure, has long since been obliterated by the owners. There is a log dugout very near the Express site he described, but no one knows if it is part of the original station or not. Robert's Creek is 15 miles north of Highway 50.

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



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