The Washo Indians

Carson City
  39.1161, -119.85136

"What a great view. What a great story! All that's missing is the historical marker. Ah. Convenient. The loss of #181 is a true shame, especially for the Washoe people. I'm wondering if it was hit, or just taken down by somebody who took offense to the marker. Whatever. I guess we're going to have to live with its empty void." -- Journal Entry, June 2007

According the State Marker System, the location for this marker reads as follows ...
"Located along U.S. Highway 50, east of Spooner Summit and west of Carson City."
Today, this marker is currently missing.

Original Date Visited: 7/7/07. Last confirmed 12/28/2010

Signed: A sign still exists for this marker on the eastbound lane of US 50!

Currently Missing -- Last Seen: December 28, 2010
[181] The Washo Indians is yet another "here today, gone tomorrow" case -- a fine historical marker with such lively text that its disappearance is nothing less than a true shame for Nevadans. Today, all that remains of [181] is a dismal sign. The ever-looming question is of course: what happened to this marker? The answer is puzzling mostly because of its "edgy" location along the busy, four-lane Spooner Grade just west of Carson City. Some people speculate that it was hit by a car and fell over the cliffside, but others believe it's still there today. Well, we cleared that up real quick by bicycling up the old Clear Creek Road. The old Clear Creek Road is the original route of US 50 that runs in the canyon below parallel to Spooner Grade ... and let me tell you: this is a phantom route. Even today, many people have no idea of this former road and segments of it are either missing or locked away from public access. If the marker had fallen over the cliff from US 50, there is no doubt that it would've landed here. On our long bike out we clambered up the hillsides like a couple of drunk mountain goats, but found only nothing but sagebrush and a few scrapes along the way.

The better explanation for this disappearance may have to do with property rights. My best guess is that NDOT themselves removed the marker due to private property issues regarding Washo land. This is an issue that continues to this day around the border line between Carson and Douglas. The Clear Creek area is a checkerboard of private ownership between the Washo Tribe and regular homeowners and even the old Clear Creek Road barely carves a path between land ownerships. At that point everything was up in the air. The one and only sign on eastbound US 50 is the only form of evidence that [181] ever existed but keen hunters will notice that the smaller Clamper marker located here doesn't match [181].

UPDATE! (December 2010)
Just after the Hohn article ran, the Nevada Appeal ran another article titled, "Three MIAs were found in Carson City." This article, posted December 29, 2010, revealed the whereabouts of three MIAs that've been missing for the past decade. Needless to say, the debut of this article has sparked some commotion around Carson City. Like myself, many area locals are ecstatic that these MIA's have been found, after a long decade's worth of wasted time and frustration! You can imagine my surprise when I received a batch of photos by avid marker hunter, Dave Morris. Before the markers were carted away to a "safe location" on December 28, 2010, he obtained these rare images for us to see. I, and every other marker hunter, thank you for these shots, Dave!

Dave found these markers covered in snow and road grime. A rat had made its nest underneath [181]. Our historic markers deserve better than this. These contractors (likely hired by NDOT) were ordered to cart away our three MIAs to an undisclosed location for repairs. The good news is that both the plaques and marker bodies are in excellent condition, saving the SHPO an estimated $1,100 each in replacement costs!

Now, is it only a matter of time before [181] is back in action. Until funding can be given to these contractors our three MIAs will remain just that. Until I see this delightfully interesting marker back on the windy slopes of Spooner Grade, I'm not closing the lid on this case just yet. We'll sleep a little better knowing that it was found and is now in safe hands. Our recommendation for this marker's re-location would be at the base of Spooner Grade or in Douglas County along Jacks Valley Road, with the Jacks Valley location being more fitting for the plaque's content. The marker will likely fare better at these two locations that are well-away from any land issues and possible wind gusts that could blow it over. Only time will tell.

  • This one sign is all thats left of Marker 181 on Spooner Grade
  • This important marker went missing sometime in 2001.  It was found buried then hauled away from an NDOT maintenance yard in 2010.
  • The native homeland of the Washoe people includes the Lake Tahoe basin

Exact Description:
Long before the coming of the emigrant trains, this site overlooked the lands of the Washo Indians. A valley, a city and a county still bear their name. A nearby trail marks their ancient route from the lowlands to Lake Tahoe and California. Their language is distinctive from both Shoshone and Paiute. For many years they preferred to remain isolated, roaming their native High Sierra. They were a peace-loving people who hunted and fished to provide food for their families. Their pinenut ceremony is still held before harvest time, the women accompanying the men on this expedition. The departure is celebrated by singing and dancing. Their puberty ritual has been in existence for generations, and Washo basketry is justly world famous. The beautiful work of their most celebrated artist, Dat-So-La-Lee, is on exhibition today in the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, and the Nevada Historical Society, Reno. Captain Jim is the most revered of their last great chiefs.

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Related Links & Markers

 [77] -- Dat-So-La-Lee   [126] -- Double Springs   [183] -- Walker River Reservation 

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