The Humboldt Canal
"(#21) This location hurts this important piece of history. As it stands now, I doubt anybody will find it, let alone the more numerous out-of-towner. This one would be better placed at the irrigation fields at the west end of town along the frontage road for two reasons ... one, it can better represent the canals of Winnemucca. And two, so we can better find the darned thing!" -- Journal Entry, February 2008
Original Date Visited: 2/28/08
Signed: Original cut-out shield (severely faded!) Eastbound lane of Old US 40/Winnemucca Blvd
Notes: This is a marker that faces a few placement issues the most obnoxious being its ridiculous signage. NDOT thought it fitting to sign this one from eastbound Winnemucca Blvd, at least a half-mile before the actual marker! Although this sounds like a good idea, the coming intersections just past the sign are extremely confusing which usually throws people onto any one of these side streets, or worse yet, onto Interstate 80 itself, and completely bypassing the marker. Save yourself the trouble and keep heading straight underneath the interstate. The marker will be on your right just past the interstate off-ramp.
The Humboldt Canal, sometimes termed the Old French Canal, coursed southwestward from Preble, near Golconda, toward Mill City. The present highway crossed it at this point, from whence it ran southerly toward the Humboldt County Courthouse on Bridge and West Fifth Streets.
The canal was conceived in 1862 by A. Gintz and Joseph Ginaca. The waterway, with a projected cost of $160,000, was to be 66 miles long, 15 feet wide and three feet deep, and with a fall of 35 feet. Its primary purpose was to supply water for over 40 stamp mills planned at the above Mill City, but it was also designed for barge traffic and some irrigation water supply.
Construction of the canal began in 1863. Louis Lay, a French emigrant from California, sub- contracted the first segment. Winnemucca city founder Frank Baud, another Frenchman, came on the project as a teamster.
About $100,000, largely French capital, was expended in building the Humboldt Canal to the Winnemucca area. Because of engineering errors and severe seepage problems between Winnemucca and Mill City, that section was never completed or used.
Several portions of the old canal are still visible in the Golconda area, in various sections of Winnemucca, and at Rose Creek, south of the city.
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