Cold Springs (Station)

Almost anybody who has driven the segment of "America's Loneliest Road" between Fallon and Austin has no doubt whizzed on by the lowly Cold Springs station. If you're a true Nevadan, you may have even stepped inside for a cold one! "Cold Springs" refers to the site of the original Pony Express station by the same name, but now the refers to an RV resort, bar and small restaurant just a mile north of the old station. The place is conveniently located right in between Fallon and Austin and intended to attract the weary traveler for a cold drink, a quick burger, or a maybe just a bit of company from the lonely highway. Either way, Cold Springs is exactly what it's supposed to be: a respite from the highway. Today, a Pony Express Rider clings to the wooden highway fence in honor of the great trail.

  • Welcome to Cold Springs, Nevada
  • Cold Creek Pond in Cold Creek is a very popular (and successful!) fishing hole in southern Nevada.

The following history pertains to the original Pony Express Cold Springs Station located on US 50 65 miles west of Austin. An interpretive center near the highway explains the history of the site and marks the beginning of a 1-1/2-mile trail to the excavated site. This was a station that had its fair share of problems beginning in March of 1860. Cold Springs was one of the larger stations on the trail - measuring 116 feet by 51 feet and built of sizeable native rocks and mud. The walls were four to six feet high and up to three feet thick to provide safe haven from frequent native American attacks. Cold Springs had four distinct rooms -- a storage area, a barn, a corral, and the living quarters. The horse corral was located next to the living quarters primarily as a safety measure to guard the valuable animals. This location also took full advantage of the animals' body heat during cold Nevada winters with the only other source of heat resonating from one small fireplace. Jim McNaughton was the station keeper at Cold Springs until he became a rider in late 1860.

Most notable event about Cold Springs occurred during "Pony" Bob Haslam's famous ride. Bob stopped at Cold Springs to change horses before moving on to Smith Creek Station where he stayed for nine hours. When he returned to Cold Springs, he found that it had been attacked by native Americans, the horses stolen, and the station keeper murdered. Bob watered his horse and headed for Sand Springs. The following morning Smith Creek Station was attacked. The whites there were well protected in the shelter of a stone house from which they fought the natives for four days. At the end of that time they were relieved by the appearance of about fifty volunteers from Cold Springs. These men reported that they had buried John Williams, the brave keeper of that station, but not before he had been nearly devoured by wolves. A few weeks after Haslam's ride, problems were still arising at Cold Springs Station.

"I have just returned from Cold Springs - was driven out by the Indians, who attacked us night before last. The men at Dry Creek Station have been killed, and it is thought the Robert's Creek Station has been destroyed. The Express turned back after hearing the news from Dry Creek. Eight animals were stolen from Cold Springs on Monday. Hamilton is at the Sink of the Carson, on his way in with all the men and horses. He will get to Buckland's tomorrow." -- C.H. Ruffin, an employee of Pony Express Mail Company, May 31, 1860

After the attacks in spring and summer of 1860, perhaps most fascinating story at Cold Springs was the account given by Sir Richard Burton, who passed through Cold Springs in his travels on October 15, 1860:

"The station was a wretched place half built and wholly unroofed; the four boys, an exceedingly rough set, ate standing, and neither paper nor pencil was known amongst them. Our animals, however, found good water in a rivulet from the neighboring hills and the promise of a plentiful feed on the morrow. Whilst the humans, observing that a beef had been freshly killed supped upon an excellent steak. The warm wind was a pleasant contrast to the usual frost but as it came from the south all the weather-wise predicted that rain would result. We slept however without such accident, under the haystack, and heard the loud howling of the wolves, which are said to be larger on these hills than elsewhere." Station keepers and riders were continually changing. Another rider that stayed at Cold Springs was William James. He rode in 1861 between Simpson Park and Cold Springs. Today at Cold Springs a substantial fortress still stands out on the trail. Living quarters and corral are easily recognized as well as windows, gun holes, and a fireplace. The "rivulet of good water from the neighboring hills, that Burton found so refreshing is still running by the old ruins.

Today, the area's stark vastness from an air-conditioned vehicle is a hard parallelism to the young men who were fastened to a horse and mailbag. What riders wouldn't have given for a piece of blacktop like US 50 cutting through a sea of sagebrush.


Status: Locale/(Roadside Rest)
Population: 12 (2012)
Founded: 1860

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How to Get Here:
A roadside stop in central Churchill County, 49 miles west of Austin, 61 miles east of Fallon.