Roy Williams Oral History

Dublin Core


Roy Williams Oral History


Roy Williams Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


1980, 1981


Analog Cassette Tape, .Docx File, MP3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette




Roy Cox Williams Oral History

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Churchill County Museum or any of its employees.

Note: This interview was done in multiple parts that needed to be rearranged and assembled. That makes this transcript a bit odd, however we have done our best to put it in an order that makes sense on its own, as well as listening along to the tapes.

Content Warning:  One short story in this interview discusses Fallon's history as a sundown town and includes descriptions of racial profiling and law enforcement attempting to shoot a man based on this racial profiling. This story has been left in this oral history so as not to deny the way racism shaped our community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is located on page 12-13 of the transcript, approximately 48:45-53:33 in the audio.


Mr. Roy Cox Williams was born June 25, 1900, at the Williams' Ranch, owned by his father and brother, which is located just east of the present site of Fallon. When his parents married they lived at this ranch, but they soon bought their own in Stillwater and moved there. The ranch they purchased in now known as the Dodge-Shoffner Ranch. They stayed until about 1903, when they sold the ranch and moved in to the newly developing town of Fallon, building both a new home and a livery stable there.

Mr. Williams attended school in the new town's first school house. When his family moved to a ranch in the Union District he completed the eighth grade at a school there. He then attended the new Fallon High School for three years, and quit to go to work with his brother, Gordon Leslie, on the road crew building the route over Conway Summit in Mono County, California.

Mr. Williams is the son of George "Bud" Williams and Jessie Hycathia Cox. George was born August 14, 1858, in Iowa, and crossed the frontier with his family, settling in Carson Valley. Sometime before 1896, he and his brother, William Hargrove Williams, bought 640 acres from Fred Small, which is now known as the Buhlig Ranch, at 2625 Austin Highway, Fallon, Nevada

Jessie was born March 31, 1872, in the San Ramon Valley near Danville, California. She married George Williams on December 9, 1896. After their move to the new town of Fallon after 1903, she taught school there.

George and Jessie had seven children: Rutherford, who was stillborn; Marjorie Ruth, who married Glen Engle; Roy Cox; Sarah Yale, who died at nine months; Gordon Leslie, who married Edna Crew; Claire, who married Lee Hinkley, and after he passed away, married Howard Engle; and William Otto, who married Lena Capucci.

Mr. Williams worked and traveled throughout central Nevada and eastern California. His memories are rich and varied and filled with humor.

On January 1, 1926, he married Hazel Ione Melendy. Hazel is the daughter of Harry Robert Melendy, born August 4, 1865 (1866?), in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Elizabeth Wauchope, born January 1, 1864, in Illinois.

Hazel was born August 14, 1905, in Reno. She has nine brothers and sisters: Stella Mae, who married Mangus Carlson; Fred Austin Melendy, who married Daisey Temple; Mable Maude, who married George Series; Jessie Robert Melendy, who married Minnie West; Flora Harry, who married Gordon Barkley; George Elbert Melendy; Anita Lois, who married Samuel Louis Taylor; Charles Everett Melendy, who married Agnes Ahern; and Clifford Herman "Tip" Melendy, who married Lucy Stuart.



When asked to participate in the Churchill County Oral History Project, Mr. Williams accepted graciously, and subsequent recording sessions were held at his Fallon ranch in 1980 and 1981.

The Churchill County Oral History Project was encouraged and assisted by Mrs. Mary Ellen Glass, founder and former head of the University of Nevada, Reno Library, Oral History Project. Scripts resulting from these interviews are made available to both campuses of the University, and copies are available at the Churchill County Museum & Archive and the Churchill County Library in Fallon.


Vesta Bollard

Interviewer : Sharon Lee Taylor, Director

Churchill County Oral History Project

Fallon, Nevada 1983


[0:00-57:55 Pages 2-12]

WILLIAMS: I was born June 25, 1900.

TAYLOR: Just go on.

WILLIAMS: Well, of course, we lived in Fallon 'til I was 12 years old, then we moved out to the ranch what's on Harrigan Road now. That's where the pellet mill is on Harrigan Road. Then that’s…I kind of more or less grew up right there and when, I guess I was about 20, along in there somewheres I started with the mules and the construction, building highways and so forth. My first job was job building a road around Mono Lake in California, up back of Bridgeport. Getting to the job…The construction company that had the job was called Nevada Construction Company, ah, E. S. Berney, father to the Berney that has the real estate office here in Fallon, he was the head of the company. We hired mules to - then of course we had to go to the job on our own time, and I think we had 20 head of mules and 4 horses. Wages was $10 a head for a mule, a month, and they fed them, and we got another $3 a day. I think we got four dollars and a half and we had to pay $1.50 for board. We started and we had to go out south on what was Schurz Highway - go through Schurz and then to Hawthorne and up over the Lucky Boy grade – Lucky Boy Summit, and through Bodie. I'll tell you that was a steep road up over that Lucky Boy Summit, for a county boy who was raised in the valley and the flats you might say, and we had on the start back, we were taking a cement mixer, a concrete mixer for the company. We were hauling in and it was a big, pretty heavy piece of equipment and we had put it on planks and rolled it up on the wagon. It was this big old flat rack wagon with a high spring seat on it and it took 6 head of animals to pull it. But anyway, the road hadn't been done too long around Walker Lake. There's a stretch of it between Walker Lake and Schurz that was just an old road. Well, this old wagon that we had was pretty old and it had been sitting around and the wheels had dried out on it. So when we and then tire go real loose. When we went to go down around Walker Lake there and went down off a little ditch and one front wheel hit a big rock on the side of the road and just caved that wheel down and over the wagon went. Tipped that concrete mixer off and there's a big bow that goes over it that the drum fastens into that turns, turns around and broke that in its cast broke it right in two. There we were between Hawthorne and Schurz with that wagon tipped over and no place to camp. Anyway, we took all the stock and we had one little wagon that we hauled a few bales of hay on, and we had 4 mules on it. There was some boys that were going from here to work on the grade up there - there was about 5 or 6 of us, I guess, we went on to Hawthorne and there we stayed all night. The next morning I sent all of them on to Mono Lake - and I kept one fellow with me. There was an old wagon there in Hawthorne, an old time freight wagon and the fellow that owned it told me he would sell me the wheel off it, but I had to go clear back down there to where it had broke down and get the hub out of there and take it back so they could get what they called a box and fit it into that wheel that I'd bought off of that fellow. It was the same size as our wheel. Well, we went down there and that was a job. We linked 4 mules and took a chain over the top of that cement mixer and had the mules pulling right up the bank and we had taken the wheels off of it when it got on the wagon. So we had to tip it back up and put the wheels on the high side. All right we had to tip it up so we could slip the wheels on the low side - well, those - we had to depend on those mules to hold that there while we got down there and slipped that wheel on. They could of let it, if they'd of backed up a little bit, but they held it all right, and then we got that hub off of it and took it back into Hawthorne and got all the blacksmith work done on it.

WILLIAMS CONT: There was an old, old blacksmith that had set tires and worked on wagons in the early days when the mines were booming, and he fixed it for us and then we come back and got it loaded on the wagon again, back to Hawthorne and on up over Lucky Boy grade, and it started to snow when we were going up over there and oh I'll tell you, that was a trip going up over that. Then going off the other side, it was just as steep as could be, I think we locked one wheel to get down off of there. We put a chain on it - it was that steep, but anyway, everything went on all right and we stayed, ho, all the way from Hawthorne to, ah, on the other side of Lucky Boy ways… There was water there - then on through Bodie and over to Mono Lake. There wasn't one piece of mechanical equipment those days, in building the highways. It was all done with manpower and mules and the mules were worked, 4 of them, put 4 of them on what was called a Fresno scraper. That's the way the dirt was moved through cuts to the fills, and some of that road was built right around the Conway summit. Over the Conway summit, it was started with what they called "station gangs" - by hand. There was a strike - miner's strike in Tonopah. A lot of the miners came up there and they would pick and shovel that 'til they got a little trench started right around the side of that mountain. Going over first were some guys with wheelbarrows who would wheel it over the grade, until when they got it wide enough that they could use dump carts, with one horse on a dump cart. They'd muck that by hand, these two wheel carts had a dump bed on it and they'd take to where there was a fill, turn the horse around and back it up right to the edge of it then dump it over the grade and it was quite a job. Oh there was 3 or 4 of those dump carts and the muckers would load them and the horses would dump it so much they were used to it and they'd go down and the gang would dump it down there and start them back.

TAYLOR: Did your wagons have a mechanical dump? Or did you have to shovel them?

WILLIAMS:  No, no a mechanical dump. They had a chain on there and it released - somebody'd pull the pin out and the cart would just dump right out the back end, out between the wheels. There was one little horse, little "Nig", he was just smart as he could be and he learned to turn off. He'd go in the creek to get a drink and then he'd just turn around and stand and hide in the willows. The old grade boss'd miss him and then he'd go down there by the willows and he could really come out of there. Then these uh… of course the grade stakes were set ahead and where it wasn't so steep, there was quite a lot of soil in, why it would have to be broken open with plows and they had a great big old walking plow. One man would take the plow and one man would drive the team. That was my job all the time I was on the grade there. I was driving the plow team, breaking ahead. Had six mules - or six horses on this old big plows.

TAYLOR: Interesting

WILLIAMS: Course they grubed a lot of the brush out, but they were very particular - there couldn't be any brush put in the fills. It had to all be thrown out. I guess they figured that it might settle afterwards and later on it would deteriorate. Anyway, you couldn't put any brush in it, and some places, soon as you could get it open a little, then they used like these big graders and they pulled them with six animals and that would blade the dirt over the edge. But I could be…There could be a pretty big cut and once there was enough dirt, you could loosen it up, why these Fresno teams would get a load there and pull it on to the dump and go to the fill, dump it and go on and that's the way they'd go all day. They would just keep dragging it out there, but, some of it was rocky and 'course the fellow with the plow team had to drag the big rocks off. Some of the rocks were just solid and I know when I was trying to pull one off one day and the horses could'nt budge it, so one of the head guys come along and he was really raising hell 'cause we couldn't pull that rock off. Finally I told him 'we can't move it," so they got a fellow and started this unit and put powder on it, you know, and blasted and that was it. It was just as deep as the cut made in the road that they were blasting, 'til they got clear down to grade and there I was - they were having me try to pull it off. It was just a big ledge of rock sticking up there. It was quite a deal then. Camps were set up somewhere on the creek, generally, and first generally, would be the office and the commissary where they had overalls and shirts and shoes and things you could buy like that, and…and a cook shack. It was generally a little board building set up like that. Then the rest…where everybody slept was in tents. We had a big Army tent. It was kind of a square frame. I think if I remember right, I think it was about 6 of us could sleep in there on cots, and there was a pole right up in the center of it. Then we stayed there and worked all summer. We went over there in June, I think it was and then we stayed there all summer and it was in the Fall, a whole lot like this Fall. There wasn't much storm and we just kept working, so the week before Christmas, I was going to come home for Christmas, and the bossman had his wife's driving horse up there and she wanted it down here, so I was going to ride her home, to come home for Christmas. The week before, it started to snow. I was going to leave on Sunday morning. It started to snow Saturday night and it snowed all Saturday night and pretty near all day Sunday, and we tried to start to get out of there Monday morning, you know, and there was snow, so we couldn't make it. We were going to take this same old big wagon that I hauled the concrete mixer in, but there was so much snow we just couldn't get out of there with it, so we took two little light wagons, and one of the bossmen took…we put two mules on they had big ol’ bales what they called Pataluma bales five wires wrapped…they weighed about 500 pounds. We hitched two mules to one of them and the boss went ahead on a saddle horse and these two mules would follow that saddle horse. They would not go by themselves, but then he went and everything was all right, why, we broke a trail out and there’s about…oh we had to get there was about 25 men, I guess. Then I put all the loose stock and all the men ahead and then the wagons came behind. We got out down to what they called the County Poor Farm there, just about Bridgeport. We'd had such good weather, there wasn't no overshoes or anything in camp, and that snow was, on the level, it was just about up to my waist. It's right in the top of the Sierra Nevada, pretty near, and when you go off into a draw, well you can imagine how much deeper it'd be out in there. I'll tell you it was hard when we came down - we made it all right. We came down through Wilson Canyon and Yerington and then through a pass in these mountains here they called "Hooten Wells" and into the Island District. We’re about.. let’s see um…

TAYLOR: How many miles of road did you have built there?

WILLIAMS: Well uh…

TAYLOR: Do you know?

WILLIAMS: No I don’t remember it was left  in two contracts. The first I can say is  I just can’t remember. We started back at what they call "Lee Vining Creek" and came to a few miles on this side on Conway Summit. Then they got another contract that built down to what they called the County Poor Farm. It was a county farm for the old folks and so forth. That was above Bridgeport a ways. Now, I really just can't remember how many miles it was.

TAYLOR: Well, did you go back after Christmas?

WILLIAMS: Went back the next spring. I didn't go back, 'cause I stayed and took care of the place and another fellow and I put up hay around the valley - either on the shares or by the ton, that summer. My brother went back with the mules the next year. They finished up the job and came out of there. I guess they got done… they came home then in November, I think - October or November. That's when they finished it up. It's been cut down some- they changed it. It doesn't go near as high on the top of the mountain as it did - as the first road did. They cut down so it isn't nearly so steep.

TAYLOR: How long did it take you when you finally did get out of there that Christmas?

WILLIAMS: Well let’s see… We came for the next…one…two…three…about the five days I guess. Five or six days. We were really lucky - one night we stopped in Mason Valley over there below Yerington, we had corrals there. We could put all our mules and horses in. We had all our mules and horses and the company had horses and mules, too. And we… They had those big old potato cellars there and we could just drive the wagon right in there and we rustled some wood and built our fire and cooked supper and breakfast right in there. Slept and rolled our bed right out there, but out at Hooten Wells, we had to camp right outside. It was just a little chilly, too.

TAYLOR: Did you do a lot of dynamiting?

WILLIAMS: Well, they had to do a lot, yea, they had gangs that just loaded the big shots of powder, you know, and blow a lot of that - over where those rocky ledges were, they had to do a lot of it, a lot of powder work.



EARL: Entry in this one.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. Last summer I had three divers…you know Mike Ansotakey [ edit: best guess spelling]

EARL: Yeah

INTERVIEWER: Well he dives in. I had two salvage divers from Reno go down there and take pictures underwater of the buildings and stuff that is under there still. There’s not much left in this one building it’s mostly just the structure of the building but there’s some kilns under there and all the pictures that we have…I have some pictures taken around 1890 and some just after 1900…1906…just before it flooded and there’s no kilns in the picture. And it’s just as puzzling as…I cannot…I’m just trying to piece together the story of the mills and everything. Cause all the pictures that we have they don’t have any of these kilns…and this one is…well perspective wise with the diver it must be about 20foot high and it’s kind of like a beehive affair…you know…almost like the kilns they have over at Ward.

EARL: Mm-hm.

INTERVIEWER: But not quite as pronounced, they are much wider but this is a kind of a tall like a silo with a big door on one side.

GEORGE: Is that the big lake or the little lake?

INTERVIEWER: In the big lake.

EARL: Big Lake.

GEORGE: Well I mean…you know they...the way they really…

EARL: Don’t mention anything here

TAYLOR: Mm-hm.

GEORGE: They might’ve had it pumping into a big area took time for it to evaporate and that’s the way it was…see the old road leads from there clear over to out past Hazen. In Wadsworth of course was the point they could ship it.

INTERVIEWER: Well there was a point they made there now…they were…in the wintertime I guess it was or maybe it was the summer…it was one time a year when the soda evaporated out it was less pure. So they actually refined it using heat then and that’s when they had the kilns or ovens.

GEORGE: Well that’s a new one. I didn’t know why…I knew nothing at all about it…

INTERVIEWER: It should be…

GEORGE: About it to begin with.

INTERVIEWER: Earl let me see and I’ll…I’ll read that. I think that’s in this book where it tells about…about what they did.

EARL: Ahh…that…talking about that picture…so that talk about Soda Lake right there.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah well it’s actually in two sections here. It’s also underwater.

EARL: Ummm wouldn’t have been taken from an angle if that kiln didn’t show in that picture you had.

INTERVIEWER: It might…it must have. You know I haven’t been able to orient it quite properly but I guess now they said there’s two or three of them under there.

GEORGE: Remember Bill Wattshouse?

EARL: Yeah.

GEORGE: He used to freight from there. That’s somewhere…

EARL: From Soda Lake?


EARL: They said there they shipped sixty tons a month out of there…uh…refined soda.

GEORGE: We talked about… he said he usually run eight horses and more on two wagons but he said he just take one wagon out at a time and they could go on naturally pretty good steep pull out there. But I think that was pretty well out of the little lake. Well…

EARL: It doesn’t mention anything in there about the little lake. It talks about…they call it the North Lake in there.

GEORGE: Well the little lake…the way I uh…it was explained to me it had the best possibility of soda. I don’t know its concentrated more something…you know that’s all hearsay of course.

EARL: Yeah. Coulda been.

GEORGE: But the big lake it was a really awkward

EARL: They said the big lake was fed from a spring so it’s possible the spring come from the little lake seeped down into big lake and that is where your soda…you mentioned getting it of a spring that come in there.

GEORGE: Well there is a spring in the big lake as I understand it. Which…

EARL: Well I uh…yeah I wonder if those levels of the two lakes are identical. I don’t think they are.

GEORGE: You’d think they would be.

EARL: You’d think they would be but it seems to me that little lake’ s higher elevation of the two.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, it’s not as deep as the big lake either.

EARL: No it’s not as deep but I mean elevation wise I thought it was higher but it might. You’d think they’d equalize themselves eventually.

GEORGE: Maybe a string in one level and raise the level or something that… in this…of course at that time it was different for Fallon there is no difference I guess in either one of the levels

INTERVIEWER: What they said about the little lake was that when the immigrants were coming through there are some fresh water springs in the little lake right along the edge and they could actually get fresh water for their stock there at the little lake but the big lake is much too so… but uh

GEORGE: That made good reading but they wasn’t very far from the river at that time.


EARL: Well there’s uh…there’s a little irony there…uh uh…there must’ve been quite a little travel along that lake so there musta been quite a stopping point. Apparently between Stillwater and Wadsworth because uh the county acquired some roads right…

GEORGE: Round there.




TAYLOR: This is May 11, 1981.

WILLIAMS: I was born June 25, 1900, on what's now known as the Buhlig ranch in the Harmon District. My father and his brother, W.H. Williams had that together at that time and it was a full section - 640 acres. The Imelli place has been sold off of it and the Soares place, and then in…later on they branched out. They bought a ranch in the Stillwater District which is known now as the Dodge-Schoffner ranch, and my folks moved down there and my father's brother  was getting married and he kept the other place. Well, we lived there on that Stillwater ranch until, I guess around 1903, along in there somewhere and they sold it, and they moved into Stillwater and lived there until our house was built in Fallon. Then we moved to Fallon and my father built a livery stable there. It stood right where the Elks Hall is now, and then he had freight he hauled from Hazen to Fallon. We moved to Fallon from Stillwater when the county seat moved in 1903. When they had to built the building, the Courthouse, they had big old tanks at Stillwater for the jail cells…well they wanted to move them to Fallon with the county seat. They had to be moved into the Courthouse and then the Courthouse was built right around them and they're still there today. They use them for storing records and all kinds of things like that in the Auditor and Recorder's Office.

TAYLOR: Did you say tanks?

WILLIAMS: Yeah big, big tanks and they just had a door, one door in them, and there's no way you could get in or out, only through these big tanks. . My father had the job of hauling them from Stillwater. He had a 14 horse team and I can remember standing up by our place where the Elks Hall is now our house was right west of where Dr. Nelson's dental office is and I could see my father pulling across Center Street, or across that part of town. There wasn't any town there then, but going on to the new Courthouse with these tanks, he unloaded them there. Then I started to school there in Fallon in 1907. First, I think there was a low building where the city hall sits now. We went there for a short time and they were having… they were really having problems just like they are nowdays - never had enough room for the school, and finally there was a building that sat on Maine Street, right where you go…no I don’t know what… Penney’s…where Penney’s store is. That's where it was, and soon they didn't have enough room, they started to build a big building in what they call West End, but…so the little kids went to school in the forenoon a half a day, and the big kids went in the afternoon. There wasn't enough room for us until the schoolhouse was finished at West End. It was a big two story building - two rooms upstairs and two big rooms downstairs. My father had the livery stable and also had the freight team from Hazen to Fallon before the railroad came in. Then, when the railroad was finally built to Fallon, why he had a big auction sale and sold the freight teams. He had two of them - a 10 horse team and a 14 horse team. Then he had the first transfer business in Fallon. He opened with - he had these smaller wagons pulled by teams, two of them, and he hauled express from the railroad, from the depot uptown to the post office and also all the freight that come in for the different stores. There was a lot of activity in Fallon then. The mines were beginning to boom in Fairview and Wonder. There were freight teams on the road hauling freight to those mining camps. For a little while, I was going to that school house on Maine Street (the big kids in the afternoon - the little kids in the forenoon) and then I went to the West End school. In a little while they outgrew it and already bonds had been sold to build a new high school and it was built right where the Cottage Schools are now. There was only 6 students in the high school, so they let the grammar school have the rest of the rooms until so…we got more schools built. It's been a problem since it seems to me since the beginning of time, this school business. They're always building new schools. Just start to get one built and they outgrow it and move to another one.

TAYLOR: Was that West Side School you’re talking about? Was that the same location that the present West Side School is?

WILLIAMS: Yes ma’am. Right where it is. It was a big old brick two-story building and they weren't very safe in earthquakes. They finally took the upstairs off and I think used the downstairs for quite awhile and finally they dismantled the whole thing and built all new little buildings there. Those two-story buildings and also in case of fire, they're pretty dangerous, too, so they didn't last. They used them for years, but they weren't practical thing, a two-story building for a school. Oh that’s…can you think of anything else for…

TAYLOR: Well when did you and your brother go into the brick and mules?

WILLIAMS: Oh! Well that was after we grew up I think. In 1920 I believe is when we started out.

TAYLOR: While your father still had the livery stable?

WILLIAM: No. No we had…of course the livery stable…cars…Automobiles did away with the livery stables, and then the transfer business, why, there began to be…he saw that there was going to be competition in that, too, so he sold that out. Then he traded the property where the…and the livery stable it was practically out of business, but anyway he traded it for a ranch out in what’s Union District in 1912. We moved out there…

TAYLOR: In the Newland District?

WILLIAMS: In the Union.

TAYLOR: Oh Union, Union.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Mm-hm. It's right south of town and we moved there in June of 1912. We finished growing up there went to a country school. There was a school house right across the corner - acrossed our field just outside the corner, the southwest corner. We went to there 'til, I guess about 6th or 7th grade and then they united, consolidated the Smart School with what they call the Wightman School, and that's how the consolidated school district got started. They put those two districts together and then eventually, why, they were consolidated with the town schools, all of the country schools eventually. They put in the bus systems to haul the children back and forth.

TAYLOR: What kind of ranching did you do out there? Was it crops you raised or cattle or…?

WILLIAMS: Well it was…yeah and hay. Alfalfa and dairy. We milked cows and then not…long after… too long after we went out there in 1912, why, there was a creamery started here in Fallon making butter and so forth. And that’s…we…. Everybody who had 10 or 12 or 14 or so cows, you'd separate the milk and take the cream to the creamery and they made it into butter and so forth. We fed the skim milk to the hogs and calves. It was uh…just alfalfa. We only had 80 acres in, we rotated from grain to alfalfa, back and forth. The big thing, when I was growing up there in Fallon (of course, it had started before we moved to the country), was the building of the reclamation project and Lahontan Dam. That was quite a big thing. I think before they got it all completed and started carrying the water to the farmers, it was, I remember, about 1914, or so, somewhere along in there, I think it was '15 before it was completely finished, but they had started checking water a little before. Before that all the water that you'd get was as long as there was any water running in the Carson River. Different people had dams in on the river, and they'd take the water out of the river. 

TAYLOR: Did have irrigation of a sort before the Dam was built.

WILLIAMS: Oh yes. Take the water out of the river like somebody would…like you'd go up the river and put your dam in and bring the water down and, of course, all of the farming or most of it was right down along the river. Anybody that had it, you couldn't take it too far away from the source.

TAYLOR: You didn’t live along the river you were out of luck.

WILLIAMS: Right, right. It was there for all the old time ranches were build right up and down the river.

TAYLOR: Weren’t there water rights then? Or did people just take the water they wanted when they wanted?

WILLIAMS: Well yeah. They just built their own dam and maintained it and the one below had to look out for himself and so forth, and sometimes, as the water started to drop down, why, the fellow up above would build his dam up a little more, so he could hold it up and the one below would suffer for it. There was lots of battles over that, too. That’s about…and uh… We went to this country school until, through the 8th grade and then, of course, we had to go to high school, and the high school was in Fallon. Then I never finished the full four years. I went three years, but then didn't go back.

TAYLOR: By the time you got there there was quite a few high school kids.

WILLIAMS: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’d began build up till they were outgrowing the high school already.

TAYLOR: Um to go back to some of the Eastga- time you were at Eastgate. Um isn’t that where you ran into this bobcats and killing the sheep.


TAYLOR: Tell us about that.

WILLIAMS: Well, when we lived at Eastgate. That was quite a lot of years in between here what we’ve been talking about here and now but we had a little bunch of uh…of range sheep and they wouldn't stay down on the ranch, they liked to go up in the mountains. In fact, they'd come out on the range, a bunch of sheep. They'd run off every day and go up on the mountain and sometimes we wouldn't have time to get them in the evening and they'd stay out there all night, so then I when I was after them one day I noticed that a baby lamb had been killed and just a tiny little hole eaten right kind of back in its front leg like into the stomach. I couldn't figure what would do that. What kind of an animal would make a hole like that? So then I talked to sheep men who lived north of us at the old Alpine ranch and they told me that bobcats were getting them and they just made that hole in back of their front leg that way and went right in and what they were after was the curd, the milk that lambs, a little while after they'd nurse it, why it's form - kind of sour like and form a curd and that would be right in the form of a little round ball, a little white ball and that's what Mr. Bobcat was after, was that curd.

TAYLOR: Didn’t they eat anything else?

WILLIAMS: Didn't eat any other part of it. They'd hide behind a rock and when a lamb came by, they'd jump out and grab it and that's the way they did. I guess, I don't remember that part of it, but I guess they would probably take hold and a lot of times they'd grab them by the throat and, of course, strangle them and then they'd go to work on that, but it was kind of spooky to see that hole, and I never thought about bobcats doing it and just didn't know how it could be done. Thought it might be a man from Mars around there or something. Some interesting things or odd things had happened in Fallon…this is before we moved away before 1912. In  early 1900s well they…there was a old…or unwritten law that there was never any Negroes in Fallon. They never let the sun go down on a Negro, and so this Negro fellow was in town and the Sheriff told him he wanted him out of town by sundown, and he didn't get right out. Long towards evening, I guess it was, he got after him again and told him he'd have to leave. Just then the Sheriff happened to think that he hadn't looked at his Rogue's Gallery; that maybe the Negro might be wanted for something some place, so he told him to wait a minute. Well that kinda scared the Negro, so he broke and started to run. The Sheriff, I guess he fired one shot at him; anyway, the Negro ran up Maine Street and he turned the corner on Center Street. That was about the only road going out of town then, going up Center Street to Taylor, and then you went south. Well, the Negro started to run up that street and the Sheriff took a shot at him. Somebody was in a bar on the corner there. I think there's a used car lot right on the corner there now. Anyway at the corner of Center and Maine where the light is, the fellow run out of the bar and he started shooting. Back of the livery stable, back of what's the Elk's Hall now, were big corrals. That's where they kept the horses, in these big corrals. There were none of them stabled over night or anything. One of the first doctors in town was Dr. Dempsey, and he had beautiful driving horses. He would go out to Horse Creek, that's east of here - there was an old Mexican fellow that raised horses and he sold lots of them to the stage lines. The doctor'd go there and he'd buy a matched team. He brought them in, two beautiful sorrel horses and he had them there at the livery stable. They weren't broken too good, yet, but anyway, when this fellow ran out of the corner bar and started shooting, he shot across there and killed one of the doctor's horses - shot one in the corral. Then the Negro ran right on up the street to our house - it was right on Center Street. It was just before dark. The sun hadn't went barely down, but I can remember him going up the street. The Negro, of course, cut across lots and across town and went out through there, what, kind of west of the high school and out that way. That channel, it used to be the channel of the river went down through there and it was in the high water time, the spring of the year, and before Lahontan was built. It'd get pretty big, a wide stream down through there. It was down this time, but whoever was after him, I guess it was the Sheriff or one of his deputies, anyway, they beat the Negro to the bridge, so he was running across the river and they started shooting at him. When they started shooting at him out in the river, why he gave up and came back. The Sheriff got…looked at his Rogue's Gallery and he didn't want him for anything and so they started him on out of town. Never did know, I guess, who shot the doctor's horse, but, anyway, I remember the doctor - I was pretty young, but I remember him - he sold the horse that was left to one of the stage lines and he went back out to Horse Creek and bought two more, and they were tall driving, standard bred horses - bays this time. He had a little buggy - well, it was a little light buggy. The roads were all just dirt roads those days and sometimes they got pretty heavy but he drove these two on that buggy and if he got a call, like some lady was about to have a baby and had waited too long - well, anyway, if it was an emergency call, why he'd just let those horses run and he'd just hold a steady line on them and they'd pretty near pull the buggy by the bits some time.

WILLIAMS CONT: I remember one time the road was used to go by the old Harmon ranch. Gallagher owns it now - a big block house east of town, and one time we saw him coming, the doctor coming. and oh, he was doing miles, I'll tell you. Mrs. Harmon got on the phone and the phone had been ringing and all they had to do was listen, it was all party lines, in fact another Harmon, her sister-in-law who was having a baby. She lived down about 3 miles or so in the Harmon district and he was hurrying there to help bring that baby into the world. But these things like this - I don't know - it's hard for me to explain to you how it was, but it was quite interesting to see that team running just as hard as they could run and that little old buggy looked like it was standing straight out behind it. I remember how they kept their prisoners and so forth in those times. The jail was just a little 2 by 4 shack, you might say. I think you could probably put 2… a couple of prisoners in it. I think there was room for a bed on each side and this door went in the center, but anyway, it was right west of our house on the lot, there. My dad went out in the yard one evening to see how they kept the prisoners and he heard the jailer calling for help over there, he went over to see and he said he had a fellow in there that guess had had too much hop or something and he was crazy, and too much whiskey, too, probably, and he was beating his head against the wall. So he told my dad, "You stay here with him and I'll go get the doctor to change the medicine on him," so away he went. Dad said he sat there and the fellow relaxed then and pretty quick he could see another seizure coming, he begun to twitch and jerk. Dad said he just jumped right straddle of him and pinned him right down to the bed to hold him 'til he quit fighting and then he let him go and he said about that time a neighbor that lived on up the street a way, he come by and thought he'd stop to see what was the matter or see how things were going, so dad told him, "You watch him for awhile," he said, "So and so, the jailer, went to get the doctor to get the medicine changed on him. He'll be right back," so he went home and he said he didn't know what time the jailer ever got back or if he came back.

TAYLOR: He was passing the puck.

WILLIAMS: Yeah passing it on alright. Then when we…


[57:58-1:01:12 Pages 12-13]

WILLIAMS: When dad had the freight team, I was always asking mom to go with him and one time, he took me along. So, they'd generally try to get over to Hazen and get loaded up and get out of there the next morning and so he had to stay all night in Hazen. So he rolled his bed out, out on the platform of the depot. And so there was a lot of pretty tough characters up and down that main line - there'd been holdups and robberies and so forth, and he said along towards morning, there was somebody who was trying to get in bed with him and he said he was just about to get right in on top of me and he said he expected me to wake up any minute. Then he told the fellow to get on, get out of there, and "Well," he said, "I'm cold. I want to get in and get warm." What he figured on, probably, was to get in - after he got in there, he'd try to get hold of his purse. Cause he always had to carry quite a lot of money with him to pay his freight bills, freight taking out stuff for the different stores. Anyway, finally he told him to get out and move on and he was edging right in, so he reached under his pillow and got his gun and he said that fellow wasn't long getting out of there and getting on down the track but he probably woulda… Dad generally always slept with his purse under his pillow and the fellow probably knew it and that's what he figured on getting ahold of.

TAYLOR: He wasn’t thinking of that gun being there.

WILLIAMS: No. (Chuckle) That put him to flight.

TAYLOR: What did you do? Meet a train there and get freight from a train?

WILLIAMS: Yeah that was…

TAYLOR: Once the line came into Fallon.

WILLIAMS: No. It went right on… the main line went on. They hadn't built this branch in here yet and everything for Fallon was unloaded at Hazen and freighted then on to Fallon. In 1907, I think the railroad came into Fallon. I think that's when it was. Before that, the first division was before Hazen, Wadsworth was the town for Fallon. We had to go to Wadsworth to get freight and supplies and everything. Then they moved it (in 1904), changed the main line and brought it down by Hazen and across to Lovelock and out that way, and then eventually, why, they built the branch on into Fallon. …I guess that’s about it I’m thinking well.


[1:01:15-2:00:32 Pages 13-26]

WILLIAMS: Soda Lake…We bought a place, it's right north and a little west of Soda Lake. It's clear out on the edge of the desert and it was uh… some people had homesteaded it and they had put in around 40 acres in alfalfa, I guess. They had a dairy. They were real thrifty, hardworking people and they had gone over to the main line which runs, oh, probably 5 or 6 miles north of the ranch - main railroad line, and got ties. You could get them pret' near for hauling them away. They'd split these redwood ties, and 2 or 3 pieces come out of a tie, and they'd use them to make their corrals. Set in a stockade style, and the posts were probably six inches apart and right in a trench, and they were really good corrals. They had the water system and the tank, so in all, there was about 5 corrals, all watered off of the same tank. They had a real good cow barn, a 14 cow barn, and the house was a 4 room house and it had been moved from the old town of Rawhide - it come from Rawhide and set there. They uh…Then I had - I got about 25 or so cattle with the ranch and I had about that many of my own. Some of them were dairy cattle so we operated the dairy all the time. Sometimes we'd be up to 17 or 18 cows and then be down to 10 or 12, but we always milked never hardly less than 10. Sometimes the cows would be fresh and there was always a cow buyer around from California, looking for fresh milk cows and I'd generally need a little income, so it was always a temptation to sell the cows. Then we had… There was quite a bit of ground that wasn't in alfalfa and we had to clear the brush off that and level it - it was all done by teams and scrapers. We had huge scrapers they called a tailboard scraper and that was used throughout the valley and that was one of the main things for putting in land in those days. One thing about the land out there, it was pretty light. When the wind blew, it really moved and if you were seeding, putting in the young hay, why, you'd better have the water coming when the wind started to blow or it'd blow right out of the ground. We always kept a stream of water going by and the ditch ended out into the desert and then it was just close by so when the wind started blowing you could go and get the water and start irrigating. The water came from Lahontan just the same as the irrigation system is now.

WILLIAMS: For a long time they went and bought… by the time we left there, why, at one time the whole country out there was homesteaded and they'd begin to leave. I guess you'd say, starve out or go broke and give it up one by one and pull out and we were the last ones to leave. We stayed there longer than any of them and then they took it out of circulation and you couldn't take it up for home-steading, that is, they wouldn't sell it and allow any more water rights out there for a good many years. But then they are again now and the place we had's been taken up again and all releveled and the fellow that owns it has spent a lot of money to put in cement ditches and releveled and put it back in alfalfa. Looks a lot different than when we was over there.

TAYLOR: About what time was this? What year? What years?

WILLIAMS: We went there in December of 1925. We were married on the first day of January 1926. We left there in '34.


WILLIAMS: ’37. I guess.

TAYLOR: You were there about 12 years.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Mm-hm. We leased a place down here in the valley [Curley Eckert's ranch at St. Clair] and moved down there.

TAYLOR: You raised some cattle out there and did some dairy out there? And alfalfa?

WILLIAMS: Yes, we raised dairy cattle and hay to put it through the dairy. Then, those days there was a creamery operating here and then there was what they called the Milk Producers that was owned by farmers and milk producers. They bought our cream and butter fat and picked it up right at the ranch and it was shipped to California. That's the way that you mar…God I can’t even…marketed it. But first, we would separate it, you know. We separated it all the time, had a hand separator and we'd take the cream to the creamery. Well, the creamery went under and I guess it was during the Depression, and then this Milk Producer came in from Modesto and they had trucks running down the valley and they'd pick your cream up right at the ranch, and that's the way we marketed it.

TAYLOR: Uh, what did these people…what prompted them to pay a lot what they were doing? Was it lack of water or…?

WILLIAMS: Oh no. It wasn't lack of water - just seemed like it was the elements. Oh, there were so many obstacles that you had to put up with like the wind and rabbits one year ate us out. The squirrels another time, and, then I don't know why, but it seemed like it would raise beautiful hay, when you'd first get it started, really good hay, then sometimes if you got a dry winter and cold, lots of freezing - sometimes it would kill the tap roots and your stand would thin out and die. Then we'd plow it up and put it in corn, raise a beautiful crop of corn, then we'd fertilize it real good. It seemed like when you put it back into hay you'd never get the production you did before, for some reason, but I imagine now, I imagine with these commercial fertilizers it'd be all right, I hope. Course a lot of the people that homesteaded that country, they just thought if they could get 40 or 80 acres, how well off they'd be and lots of them were people that had worked in offices and didn't know, really know anything about ranching or farming, you know, and it'd get too much for them.

TAYLOR: It takes more than 80 acres to make a living.

WILLIAMS: Well, yes and It takes a little know how to do it, too.

TAYLOR: Oh! Back to the house you said it was moved from Rawhide. That was before you moved there?

WILLIAMS: Oh yeah.

TAYLOR: I mean the house was already there.

WILLIAMS: The house was there.

TAYLOR: Was it a frame house?


TAYLOR: Is it still there?

WILLIAMS: No. It was moved off of the place after we left and it's sitting right south of what was the old fairground building, you know, down there on the highway. Well, right south of it, it was set in a trailer park and motel and the people that owned it, that was their headquarters, where they lived at the time. I haven't paid any attention for years - I guess it's still sitting back there. It was just a big, square house and the roof come up to a point, kind of - not too big. The cow barn was a really good piece of work. These fellows that I bought out were brothers - there was two brothers - they were German people - real thrifty. They had build this cow barn so that 14 cows - you could put 7 on each side and they stood tail to tail and a hallway through between. They had made the floor of that barn - they had used the redwood ties and used that for the barn and it would last forever - those redwood ties. And somebody…I never did know who got the barn. I guess somebody hauled it away.

TAYLOR: Is that land being farmed now?


TAYLOR: Do you know what it is and who’s doing it?

WILLIAMS: Yes. There's a fellow by the name of McFarlane, young fellow, got it now and there was a place right across the road from our place. He's got it, too. I guess he's got them both back in hay. I haven't been out there for a long time. Can you turn it off?

TAYLOR: Yes. ‘Kay are you ready?

WILLIAMS: As it went along over the years, the first - we had ups and downs and I guess the first, well, it was our first baby was coming and Hazel didn't want to go to the hospital there wasn't any hospital - it was just a lady had a place in Fallon where she'd take care of people and babies in Fallon were born there. Hazel wanted to be confined at home, so things went along real good and she wasn't put on any diet or anything, so then she started into labor, so we called the doctor. She started having pains and he came out and examined her and he said, "Well, the baby's on the way," and he had to go some place else, but he would be back and he came back and so she went on and on the rest of that night and into the second day. He just threw up his hands and said I'd have to get somebody else - that he'd done all he could do, and there was a neighbor lady that had come in to help, so he called another doctor out of town, old Dr. Dempsey. He came out and the baby's head was turned back and so he pushed the baby back and got it straight and a little while he was going to leave. He said everything would be all right then, 'course that baby was dead by that time, but I begged him to stay and go back and get the baby and he did and it weighed nearly 10 pounds - it was just too big. She hadn't dieted down any, and she'd gained quite a lot of weight, too, and so that was really a heartache. It was a little boy. For awhile after we moved there, everything went real good, prices were good, butterfat was up and we did pretty good and then pretty soon it started to go the other, way, and when it was going so good, you could go to the bank and if you wanted a hundred dollars, why they'd say maybe you need $150? Do you need any more? Money was that easy to get at 8% interest. Well, I went there with the agreement the bank put up the money for the place - $5,000 and I was to pay them back $100 a month, so we'd been there 10 months and we'd taken back $2,000. Well, then I began to do a little trading on the side - buying cattle - I had a friend that was buying for an outfit in California, and when he'd start to get a load, why, I'd start buying where I could and then he'd take them off my hands. For awhile it worked out pretty good, but after a while, why, he'd buy some cattle and maybe before he'd get them to the time to ship, why, the price had gone down and the price of butterfat went down, too.

WILLIAMS CONT: I had been paying the bank so good, that they'd dropped the $100 a month and I was just paying the interest and all at once I woke up one morning and seemed like I couldn't go from Kent's store to the Courthouse without meeting somebody I owed along the way. Then we went into the Depression and I'll tell you it was rough going, but we paid everything off. We finally decided on a plan that if you don't have the money, don't get it - you don't get it, so there wasn't any charging, and then we began to kina pull out of it. I would get work on the side, anyway, to make a dollar, and when I left the place, I paid off the bank and then I had a small loan, they called them a commissioner loan. I guess it was, to help in the depression for somebody that couldn't borrow money any place else, it was kind of a government deal. Well, there was this commissioner loan, I think it was $1,500, and so when we decided to leave there - just too many obstacles, why I figured that the house and barn and all these good corrals would offset $1,500, that I owed them and they were real nice about it and I got a letter from them saying that they were satisfied and saying that if I ever wanted a reference for a loan sometime, they'd be glad to help me out.

TAYLOR: But you just turned the property over to them.

WILLIAMS: That’s right. They just…I don’t know… I guess they just sold the house off of it and I think people just went and hauled the rest of it away, probably. I imagine they got enough out of the house to get their money back. Well, we operated there at Soda Lake, 10 or 12 years. Our second baby was…Well both of our daughters were born there. Finally the elements and so forth just got more than we could take and we just decided one year when the squirrels were so bad they just ate everything, and then the rabbits. Then one year we had had, was up oh, about half grown, the alfalfa and there came a hail storm and it just took the leaves right off of it, just left the stems standing about like that. We had a little orchard there with some fruit on it and the hail hit on the one side and it was peaches and where the hail had hit in, you could pret' near see the pit on the inside, it was that storm - a big storm, you know, so all in all, why Mother Nature was a little too much, I guess, so we moved down in the valley, down in the St. Clair district and rented a ranch down there. We had it two seasons and then it was sold. We had to move from there and then we got a proposition to go to Eastgate and that's where we went, and we went to Eastgate in 1940.

TAYLOR: But you raised hay and dairy cows in St. Clair?

WILLIAMS: Mm-hm. Yeah.  We had converted over already had started a cross strain of running Shorthorns crossing with the Holste- the dairy cow because we had a lot of outside feed out there on that Soda Lake Desert. We ran quite a lot of cattle up there and so we had started to convert over to the Shorthorn cattle. We got…tried to get what they called the milking Shorthorn which is what we had. We'd already begun to get lots of roans and red cows and by the time we got ready and moved to Eastgate we didn't have any more of the Holsteins like that left. Some of them would go back…trace back and originated from Holsteins but they’re all reds and roans kind cattle. Then, of course, we changed from the milking shorthorns to beef. And then…we ran don’t know…remember when ran the bulls.

TAYLOR: There’s…

WILLIAMS: Soda Lake at one time they…I guess what you called manufactured soda there. They pumped water into vats and just pumped the… Yeah what was you would think was water out the lake but there was almost… I think it was estimated as one of the purest sode deposits in the world, at one time - it was pret' near 90%. Well, they'd just let the water eveporate and then they would ship the soda and it was long before there was ever a railroad into Fallon, and they used to freight it from the lake across - the railroad didn't come down through Hazen, then. In the early days it come right out of Wadsworth and went right across to Lovelock.

TAYLOR: That was the Central Pacific was it?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, mm-hm. So they’d freight the soda over across and went through that pass right north of Hazen to the railroad out there over by the hot springs on the road going to Lovelock. The lake was way down - I don't know how far down in there.

TAYLOR: Down in level?

WILLIAMS: Yeah. I talked to an old man that used to - he lived in Wadsworth and he had a freight team mule team, and he told me that the road wound around going down in there. He said you could…if you had a 20 mule team and you'd go down there and load the wagon up with soda and then you could only pull one wagon up at a time out of there. From looking at the top, it's just almost unbelievable to think how they'd get down there with a team and get turned around and get back, but of course the lake was way down. I remember the first time I saw it, was that had been years before it started to fill up, but you had to lean way over to see the water down in there. I heard my dad tell 'course they manufactured soda from both lakes. There was a little lake and a big lake and he didn't haul soda from there, but he'd go up in the Fall and help the man and help him get the team started to haul, 'course they hauled it in the Fall. I guess he couldn't go across that sand in the summertime, but it was a 14 horse team that he'd go up and help him get started. But, then, when the irrigation system started, and they started all these canals and maybe, I don't know, maybe there's an underground channel from Lahontan Dam, but anyway, it started to seep into the lakes and they started to raise, and just came up to the buildings and everything or down in there yet. It was in litigation for years. The people that owned it sued the Reclamation Service to try to get something for ruining their way of life and for years there was just a watchman there and my brother younger than I, used to go out and the old watchman would come to town after supplies and he'd put his team in the livery stable and then he, my brother, would go back with him and stay out there 'til he'd come to town the next time. I never did go with him, but finally it was settled. I don't know how the Reclamation Service paid off, or what the outcome of it was, but I've seen the pictures where you could just see some of the buildings, yet. Yea, they're still down there. It was quite a thing, all right, and there's a fresh water spring on the west side of the big lake and I guess it was good drinking water, 'cause I heard my father tell of wagons that came across the plains, why they came over there for water.

WILLIAMS CONT: And snow was one inch on the road was kinda losing it. Some places we had to leave the road and try to keep up out of the snow, and we'd be right over boulders. This fellow had an old bull dog in camp and he was short haired and pret' near freezing to death. The dog was having an awful time staying in his seat and the only place that bull dog would ride was in the seat with me. He was trying to get warm and before I knew it, he was just crowding me 'til I pret'near fell out of the seat. Anyhow, it was rough - that's how bad it was and in one place I did fall out of the seat when we got stopped down off of this little ditch. I had fallen off the seat and was sitting right down on the tongue, between the wheel team right there, and I tell you - I don't know how - looking back now, I don't know how we ever got down out of there all together, but we made it all right. And then, too, it was just so cold and like I said, there wasn't an overshoe in camp, and 'course we fed lots of grain to the mules and a lot of us cut grain sacks up and had them wrapped around our feet to keep them warm. They kept them wet 'til the sacks got awful wet. It was quite a deal, all right. Do you wanna stop?

TAYLOR: That’s fine. Okay.

WILLIAMS: You were interested on the cattle drives. Ah… The first big cattle drive I went on was moving cattle from Reese River to Fallon, and John Bowler was the rancher over on Reese River that had sold the cattle. There was 3 of us went from here up to Reese River and Mr. Bowler took another fellow and I in his car out and another fellow, George Wheaton, he took the horses over. Well the road didn't go up by Eastgate then - it went out - turned off at Middlegate and went out through by what they called Mud Springs and over to… over by Ione. This was in the Fall of the year, 'fact it was election year. While we were waiting for the horses to get there from Fallon, we worked the cattle and got them ready to come to Fallon. It had been a dry year in Reese River and Bowler sold some 800 cattle and after we got the cattle worked, why, Mr. Bowler, and his wife, his mother, and I don't know if there was anybody else, they had to go over to Ione to vote. This fellow that was with me was Mr. Sanford. Lye Sanford and I, we lost our vote that year by not voting before we went. But uh…So… We were all ready and when George Wheaton got there with the saddle horses, why, we were ready to leave the next morning, so we started those cattle which had never been moved off of the ranch before and some of them were real thin. It had been a terrible dry year and then there was about 150 or 200 steers and the dry cows were fat and in good shape. They could travel pretty good, but the rest of the cows and calves, they didn't want to go anyplace. We started up a big canyon, I can’t think of the name of it, but anyway, that would bring us out over in the Ione Valley side. We came through, around through what they called Saw Mill Canyon and out and across to Campbell Creek, which is a ranch now and it's on the old Austin Highway, right on the other side of Carroll Summit. When we left the river I suppose around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, right after breakfast we got to going and we didn't get to the Campbell Creek ranch until one o'clock the next morning. We got in there and got a little bit of sleep that night, and so we started from Campbell Creek the next morning to come over the mountain to Eastgate. We didn't come like the road does, right up over the highway, we went out and up the canyon, over the top and down what they called Skull Canyon, and they were just building the highway over Carroll Summit then. . In fact, where we came out of this Skull Canyon into what they call Road Canyon, that's where the old highway…where the highway goes up - it's the old highway now, coming over Carroll Summit, there was a construction camp. It was right in there where the two canyons forked. It was dark, it'd got dark by the time we got down there. It took us that long to get up over there, and Bowler - Bowler that owned the cattle, he was in the lead and he liked his toddy pretty well, so he just let the cattle go. He went right over to the cook shack or commissary to see if there was anything to drink there. There was a fellow up on the grade and he was scaring the cattle on so they wouldn't knock the stakes down. I was riding a little ways behind watching them, helping to find them and when I got there, the cattle were going back up towards Carroll Summit, just in really high gear. Well, I got them turned back and got them going down the canyon, and by that time the drag end had caught up and this Sanford, Lye Sanford, he was kind of a good hand and had moved lots of cattle and he was kind of a straw boss, but anyway he asked Bowler, "Did that drink of whiskey mean more to you than this bunch of cattle?" Bowler said, "Well, it saved my life." Then the lead cattle, they just took right down the canyon and they just went away from the drags all together, so we got down out of the canyon and I guess about two miles or so above Eastgate and they just quit running. We couldn't go any longer, so we stopped and built a fire right there. The leaders had already gone in and this Wheaton and an Indian boy were ahead with them and so they took them on into Eastgate and we stayed there around that fire and the cattle just bedded down and quit right there. Then just when it was getting light pretty good, why, we got up, got on our horses and gathered them up and started on down the canyon and we got down to Eastgate about 8 o'clock that morning. It was 7 o'clock the morning before when we left Campbell Creek - we'd been all day and all night. Mrs. Edaburn [EDIT: BEST GUESS ON SPELLING] asked me what was the first time I saw Eastgate and what did it look like to me. Well, that was the first time and it looked plenty good, mainly because we hadn't had any supper that night, 'cause the cook had gone on, too, with the bed wagon. We had a fellow that had four horses on a light wagon and hauled the beds and groceries and he was "supposed" to cook for us. But he had lacked a little of what we needed.

WILLIAMS CONT: But anyway, there was a Mr. George Williams owned Eastgate then, no relation to me at all, and a man by the name of Earl Danielson was running it. We got hay for the cattle there and we fed them, so right after breakfast, why, this Lij' Sanford and I each borrowed a fresh horse from the ranch boss there and we went back up the canyon to see if any cattle we missed that night got lost. Right on top of the summit coming around from Campbell Creek and coming out of Ione Valley, we'd seen cattle all along - a few going up, but the furtherest one up - the last track, was one little bitty calf all by himself. Well, we got around him and started him back this way towards Eastgate and way down the canyon aways, why, there was his mother looking for him. Anyway, when we got down Eastgate, that evening, we found about around 25 cattle they'd lost the night before just coming down through there. Well, I'll tell you, I was ready for bed that night, so we had supper and there's a big old horse barn there at Eastgate made out of just Juniper posts, willow upright posts and willow roof, anyway, we rolled the beds right out in that barn and I'll tell you, I wasn't long going to sleep that night. Then, the next morning, why we started and down on what they call Frenchman's Flat, that's a big flat where the station - Frenchman's Station is - it's beside the highway. Well, anyway, we didn't expect to make that far. There was a well and pumping station at Westgate. That's the gate through the mountain this side of Middlegate, and they pump from there up to the old town of Fairview. You know where Fairview is? Up there and also the pipeline forked aways about a mile or two below Middlegate and it went all down towards what they call Dixie Valley down there by that Chalk Mountain. They had cow troughs there. This Williams that owned Eastgate had the old Williams estate ranch which was on the west side of Fallon and they owned ranches at Alpine, the Alpine ranch. They ran cattle there, but they didn't have any cattle there yet that winter, and so we'd go there to water. They started the pump and started the water down the pipeline. Bowler had hay hauled from Fallon, they'd scattered hay out for them but when we got down there the water never got to the tank at all. Somewhere there was an airlock or leak. It hadn't been used since the year before. So we just divided up into uh…That night and into the second day, finally he uh…

WILLIAMS CONT: December of 1940 and uh…before no relations of husband


TAYLOR: Now we continue with your Soda Lake story from the other side of the tape.

WILLIAMS: Well was talking about the manufacturing of soda there and they would pump that water into vats and let the water evaporate. And they would sack up the soda and haul it to the railroad. It was supposed to be one of the purest deposits of soda in the country anyplace in time. And they uh…the main line didn’t run through Hazen, man it come right out of Rogers and came across to Lovelock. So they hauled the soda from Soda Lake over and through that pass out back of Hazen to the railroad out there over by the hot springs on Highway 40. I might add that my mother's people, when they came across the plains, they got enough soda from there, Soda Lake, to last them for a year after they got to California. Then there was a spring on the west side of the lake that I heard my father tell about, when they came across the plains, he said there was a man and a woman lived there. And they over there…pulled the trailer off and camped. It was good water, 'course the lake now is clear up over the top of the spring. I don't know how far down it was or anything about it, but it was good drinking water, and the lake now - you can't believe it, but it was quite a place for people to go for picnics on holidays or something like that. We've got pictures of our father and our families there, then I was reading an article cut out of the paper, that Hazel cut out of the paper and it was telling in the early days that Soda Lake was quite a place to go on picnics and so forth, and it's just hard to believe now that it was like that. There was trees down in there, too, I guess, growing along the edge way down there. But its…uh always quite a bit of uh… in this article I was reading the paper there’s two people one of them thought it was uh explosion and crater blown out there  and another thought it was where a meteor dropped. So forth but that’s.

TAYLOR: What…What was that soda used for? For laundry and cooking?


TAYLOR: Cooking too?


TAYLOR: Interesting.

WILLIAMS: And they claim this old watchman that was watching there had to go around in a boat - quite a while ago when my brother used to go and stay with him and he had to go around and measure the lake so they could tell it was raising, you know, and he claimed there was one place in the lake they never did find the bottom –

TAYLOR: Hm, pretty deep hole.

WILLIAMS:  Yeah it is. It must be some hole down in there.

TAYLOR: Well let’s…


EARL: 70,


EARL: That’s about the time that Mrs. Flannery into Virginia…ah before that I guess in Virginia in the 1860 she came to Virginia City.

GEORGE: Who’s that?

EARL: Mrs. Flannery.

GEORGE: Oh yeah.

EARL: She lived out uh…

GEORGE: She’s really an old timer alright.

EARL: She was. She saw it all. Up in Virginia City Speaking of relics if your interested in relics I will show you one from Virginia City…


EARL: that is a relic.

INTERVIEWER: What kind of dog is that?

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Just a mixture.

INTERVIEWER: A mixture huh?!

3rd PERSON FEMALE: He was a stray that came here we took him in. I think he’s a Poodle and a Spits. [EDIT: My best guess at the spelling- she starts to mumble.] And I don’t know what else.

INTERVIEWER: I was trying to think he looks almost like an Airedale I guess is what I was thinking.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Clean. When he moved here he looked like a sheepdog I mean the hair hanging in his face.

INTERVIEWER: Mm-hm. He’s had a haircut.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: And I cut all his hair off.


3rd PERSON FEMALE: He had all his feet with little burs and he was hungry. We’ve had him a couple of years.


3rd PERSON FEMALE: I don’t know where he come from. I don’t know who he belonged to. I think somebody abandoned him down at the end of the road.

INTERVIEWER: You found a good home huh kid. Yeah! Oh wow. (Being shown the relic)

EARL:  The skin come off that. Look at the work of the face…look at the work on the face.

GEORGE: You haven’t seen one of these before.


EARL: Let’s… (laugh) I don’t have to look at that closed. I can do that from a distance.

INTERVIEWER: Oh…you…you found that?

3rd PERSON FEMALE: No that’s from an antique store.

INTERVIEWER: Oh he bought it.

EARL: There’s uh…

INTERVIEWER: That is beautiful

EARL: Talking about Olega Flannery. That was hers. Her son had that made.

INTERVIEWER: Does it still work?

EARL: Oh yeah it runs. Runs good.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: That’s Virginia City gold

INTERVIEWER: That’s beautiful. The detail in that

EARL: Made out of Virginia City gold.

GEORGE: Yes I’d seen that before. Oh that’s really an old timers…

EARL: Her grandson came up and wrote a book about Virginia City. His name was Flannery Lewis. And he devoted about half a chapter of that book to this watch wondering where it was.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: This was…belonged to his grandmother this watch. Mrs. Flannery was his grandmother. The name of the book was Sun’s Go Down

EARL: Sun’s Go Down. Yeah.

George: Did I ever show you that watch chain that I have.

INTERVIEWER: No George you didn’t.

EARL: That goes with that watch! I oughta flip you either you get the watch or I get the chain. (laughing)

INTERVIEWER: That would be a racket for you both. Did you let him know that you had it?

EARL: No, no I never did let him know. I read the book and I knew what he was talking about…talking about the big gold watch that his grandmother used to have. But I never did let him know. I figured he’d harass me till he got it and I wasn’t about to turn it loose.

INTERVIEWER: What you oughta…mysteriously take a picture…color picture of it and just send it and say the watch still exists. And have somebody mail it from Reno! (laughing)

EARL: That’d drive him crazy. (laughing)

INTERVIEWER: Well that’s alright. At least then he’d know it was still around and hadn’t been thrown away or something.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Probably sell it to him for a good price. .

EARL: Yeah, he’d probably give anything to get a hold of that watch.  Cause he devoted…devoted a lot of that book. One chapter to this watch.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Probably wondering what his grandmother did with it.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah that’s why you mysteriously mail him a picture. (laughing) Just so you know it’s still around but we don’t really want to talk about selling it. See next time you publish your book you can put a picture of it in that chapter and just say well somebody has it but they won’t tell me where it is.

EARL: Yeah that’s quite a chain that one. You got. It weighs five pounds. It’s a really polished stone. Really a beautiful thing.

INTERVIEWER: Oh here’s the one down here. Made it to Dixie Valley.

EARL: Do you see it?!


EARL: Alright!

INTERVIEWER: Here it is.

EARL: Show that to George and he’ll tell you that it isn’t Dixie Valley.

GEORGE: This here isn’t Dixie Valley. No it isn’t. I know that place…(laughing)

INTERVIEWER: Seems to me that there’s…

GEORGE: A part of its…

EARL: I can remember Dixie Valley ever since the Land of 19 Smokes that’s what they used to call it…and uh…


EARL: That house wasn’t there then and it hasn’t been there since.

INTERVIEWER: That almost looks like that…down in the canyon there that big mansion that they moved down in the Carson Valley there.

EARL: It sure does. That’s quite a mansion. That…It coulda been the one at Horse Creek they had a nice home up there but it looks even too big for it. That’s a huge house.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah that’s a big one

EARL: And the background…the background doesn’t look like uh…

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. The mountains at Horse Creek are much bigger than that

EARL: Yes and they got timber on them behind the…the trees around there look like the trees that used to sit around that house.

INTERVIEWER: It looks like somebody made a mistake. And this would be Dixie Valley and this’d be Newark Valley or something you know. It looks like they exchange the pictures.

EARL: It could be. That looks more like Dixie Valley right there.

INTERVIEWER: Right. It’s almost like…and the titles are wrong. This is “A Good Try” and this is “Made It” and it should be “A Good Try Dixie Valley” and “Made it Newark”. (laughing) Cause that looks more like Dixie.

EARL: I believe your right. I believe got that title mixed up in that and I shoulda known that house isn’t Dixie Valley.

INTERVIEWER: Got somebody in a camper coming, white truck.

EARL: Camper?

INTERVIEWER: Well it got just a little over the height of the cab

EARL: If it has a red truck that’d be Clarence.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Maybe that’s the guy with the spray.

EARL: Oh. My bad.

GEORGE: I was thinking about that spray…

 3rd PERSON FEMALE: He was supposed to yesterday and he wasn’t. Maybe that’s him.

INTERVIEWER: What spraying for bugs?

3rd PERSON FEMALE & EARL: Yeah. Crop dust.

EARL: I bet it is.

GEORGE: What was the name up there towards Horse Creek?


GEORGE: I’ve lost that name now. God I know Rose like you….anyways.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Well let’s see…some relation to Bonds wasn’t it.

GEORGE: That’s right.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Uh…I can’t remember…

GEORGE: One of the old…first settlers in Dixie Valley had the same name.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: I can’t remember their name either.

GEORGE: Yeah but I ought to…he had a lot of horses in Stillwater. I used to bring horses from Stillwater up there bring them back and forth back and forth.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Oh it was Charlie wasn’t it? Charlie?

GEORGE: No not Charlie.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Oh, that’s Dixie Valley wasn’t it?

GEORGE: No that wasn’t Charlie. Of course…No, no oh…at the railroad company he’ll remember

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Yeah I know who you mean but I can’t remember

GEORGE: He was quite a horseman. That’s all you need to know. Yep, I’m sure getting terrible that way.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: I can’t remember. I know who you mean too. I just can’t remember the name.

GEORGE: I don’t believe I drank one more beer. Sometimes I do pretty good when I want to and sometimes…well went I want to why nothing happens. Yeah I guess this old age is really creeping up.

INTERVIEWER: That is a nice book.

GEORGE: Good pictures in there.

INTERVIEWER: Only thing that makes me mad is they don’t tell you where things are. I HATE that.

GEORGE: Yeah really don’t make much…mean much to ya unless you know where they’re at or something about them

INTERVIEWER: So I’d to know where this Leviathan Cave. Cause I’ve got friends who told me about going to a cave in central Nevada where you can see it from miles off when you drive up.

3rd PERSON FEMALE: Leviathan

GEORGE: Oh where that fellows…

INTERVIEWER: I don’t know if this is it but it’s up…he told me it’s in central Nevada

GEORGE: Don’t they mention that cave there.

INTERVIEWER: Well it says Leviathan but it doesn’t say where.

GEORGE: Oh, oh yes.

INTERVIEWER: And it says you can see it from miles away when you drive up to it and you have to go clear to the top of the mountain and then come down on a rope to get into it.

GEORGE: I’d like to see the cave in the picture there.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, that’s all going down. I don’t know if that’s it or not.

GEORGE: The whole question in my mind is…that cave has hardly ever been occupied.

INTERVIEWER: Mm-mm. Cause it was so hard to get into.


[2:00:35-2:04:52  Page 26]

WILLIAMS: Roy Williams Story

TAYLOR: 22nd 1983. With the rest of the Roy Williams story. Now start off all over.

WILLIAMS: In 1928, we had a nice 9 1/2 lb. baby girl, Anita Ione. We were so happy and proud of her and then in 1932, it was a terrible drought year, so I did some work away from home, land leveling for a neighbor and then Hazel was threatened with a premature labor and after about a month, gave birth to a baby boy. He was three months premature and they didn't have the know-how then or the equipment to take care of the premies, so we lost him. In 1936, Hazel gave birth to another fine baby girl, Jacquelyn Royce. She was a brunette - as much of a brunette as Anita was blond. When we went to Eastgate… When we went to Eastgate, there was no electricity or telephone. Anita stayed with Cushmans for about a month when she had an attack of appendicitis. After an appendectomy, she stayed with our neighbors on the Alpine Ranch to go to school. When Jacquie was old enough to start school, Anita was in the 8th grade and Anita drove the car on that old desert road for 14 miles up to the little school house at Alpine. Another little girl at the store went too. The next year, Hazel moved to town, so Anita could go to high school and the girls went to Fallon schools, except one year after Anita was out of high school and Jackie stayed home and had a man at the store - he was a teacher, check on her work and then went in to her class for new assignments for the week. She did very well, but missed the fellowship and companionship of the other children.

WILLIAMS CONT: Now this is the…back to the fall roundup. The men - cowboys would come from the different ranches to help gather the cattle and look for cattle that had strayed from their place. It was quite an enjoyable time, 'cause everybody was always - they were always a good crew and good fellows, and there was a big crew for Hazel to cook for, but that was good because they'd eat anything that set in front of them. They all had happy appetites and enjoyed whatever she set out. Many people - a lot of people thought it would be a lonesome life, but in the summer we could sit on the front porch in the evening and we'd see more people going fishing or hunting or just traveling through than we would ever have seen at home in the valley.




[2:04:55-2: Page 27-30]

WILLIAMS: We moved to Eastgate in December of 1940, between Christmas and New Years. Pete Cushman had the ranch leased, and he wanted somebody to go there and run the ranch and look after the cattle, so he offered me a job. I could run 100 cattle and he would furnish everything. When we moved some people had rented the store and they were living in the big house and we understood that we were supposed to get the big house. We had to move out of the place we were living in, 'cause it had been sold, but the people that were running the store were living in the big house and according to their contract, they said they had the big house in their lease. It seemed like there was a couple owned it, and they were doing business with a man and Pete Cushman was doing business with a lady that owned it - she was raised there and she knew the big house had to go with the ranch operation. Anyway, they let us have a room in the big house and we slept there and then we was allowed to cook in the little old room in the back of the store.

TAYLOR: Just a minute.

WILLIAMS: Well… Finally we got the lease all straightened out and we got moved into the big house and we operated that way. Pete had it leased and by the time his lease was up the next year, why he had bought the place. To get to the nearest store then we had to come to Fallon for our groceries. There wasn't any school there at Eastgate. The nearest school was 14 miles out at Alpine, so we boarded Nita in Fallon the rest of the school year and Hazel would come and get her Friday evening and bring her back Monday morning. So then the next year, why, she stayed with a family that lived at Alpine, a Basque family, Echeverry, she stayed there at school and we'd go and get her Friday evening and bring her back Monday morning. That teacher, Mrs. Morgan, she was quite a lady all right. She taught them everything - gave them all piano lessons pretty good, too, at drawing. Two boys, little Tommy Armachea and the little Echeverry boy, they played a duet on the piano at Christmas vacation, and we'd all go up there for the Christmas vacation and then afterwards, we'd have the party at the Echeverry's house, a big house, and it sure was a nice time. Some of them played and they'd have dances and have a good time. Then the next year, as soon as Jacquie was old enough to go to school, we taught Nita to drive, so she drove the car and went out every day. In order to hold the school, they had one little Armachea girl, she was really too young to go to school, but she came every day. In the afternoons, she'd have to take her nap and Mrs. Morgan, the teacher would see that she got her nap. Of course, she was learning something, all right, but that's the way they held the school. Whe Nita graduated, why, we had to get a house in town, and Hazel moved in and she'd come in every week - Monday morning and then come home Friday evening. I batched at Eastgate. She was gone for awhile, then I got an Indian couple to work there and the man was a good hand on the ranch and his wife, she did the cooking. She was sure a great cook. She weighed about 212 pounds, I think it was. She was afraid of the dark. She was really - as soon as that sun went down she'd lock her door. She'd come up in the morning, I'd get up and build the fire and she'd then come up and get breakfast. They stayed in the little bunk house, and she'd jump in the door and slam the door right quick, just like a spook or something was after her. She had a little girl, too, that was quite a little character. She was with me everywhere I went, round the ranch - when I'd go to change the water, irrigating time, she was right with me and she was teaching me to talk Indian. She'd point to something, say the name of it and then I'd say it after her. We were doing pretty good. One evening I was in; we only milked a cow and we had a little cream separates. We'd separate the milk and had our own cream and made butter and so forth, and I was separating the milk and I was asking her about something in Indian and she just froze up, wouldn't talk any more, wouldn't say anything at all, so the next morning, we were down changing the water and I said something to her and she says, "My mama, she say to me, 'you no more talk Injun to old man.'" So that ended that. They didn't want me to know - they wanted to talk sometimes by themselves, I guess. They didn't want me to know what they were saying. She was a little character - little Doris. She was telling me one day, she was talking about looking, seeing something way off, and she, 'course, the Indian boy and I rode together and spot cattle way off, and she said, "My daddy, he say 'Jesus, old man sure got good eyes.'" (laughing)

TAYLOR: And how old were you then to be such an old man? (laughing)

WILLIAMS: 42. They stayed, oh I guess they were there with me a couple of years. He was sure a good man, but you couldn't send him across the road after anything if there was a bottle of whiskey on the other side. He'd get drunk and so he finally got drunk and I was having back problems, I got hurt in the back and there was - I was down - up and down, but I couldn't ride anything or do a thing for about 7 months. Well, anyway, we had quite a crew around there, were horse breakers there. So he got  too many people around, I guess, and he got to drinking pretty bad so we finally had to let him go. Then they moved, went back to Reese River over to the reservation. One day they'd come to Fallon, he and his wife and another Indian fellow. They, 'course, got some whiskey and started back home, and it was after dark and over there, over on the other side of Campbell Creek, over still another summit before you start down the Reese River Valley, why, the car stalled. It was cold - snow on the ground, so the woman, Minnie, and the little girl, well she started to walk down to a ranch down on the river there to O'Tooles', and she tried to ge these fellows to go with them her husband and his friend. They went just a little ways and they were too drunk and they sat down under a tree and she walked with that little girl down to O'Tooles' and the next morning they went back looking for them to get the car, and there they were, still sitting right under the tree - froze to death. I think what an odd thing it is, I have never, from the time they left Eastgate, saw Minnie and that little girl ever again. Don't know - 'course the girl's grown now, but the last I ever did hear of them, they were down around Bishop, California, and then they were back over to Ione. I sure would've like to know, I ask Indians about them every once in awhile. Nobody seems to know whatever became of them. The operation of the ranch - the cattle were the main thing and Cushmans had the right for 500 cattle. They had 400 cattle and I had 100. I didn't have quite 100 when I went to Eastgate, and I had to buy enough to fill my permit, and there's good winter range south of the ranch and what they call "white sage flats". That's all the dry cattle. Then in the Fall of the year we always got out the steers and the dry cows: everything we were going to sell and came to Fallon. We brought them down to Cushman's home ranch and they were wintered there and the steers were generally allowed to fill up pretty good on pasture and then we'd sell them to somebody to feed them.

TAYLOR: You drove them in?

WILLIAMS: We drove them in. We didn't have any camp or anything along the road. First day, we'd take them to Westgate and, next day to Frenchman's, the next day they'd get to the home ranch in Fallon. They'd either stay like when we'd take them to Westgate the first day, and the cowboys would go back to Eastgate for that night. The next morning, we'd take them down and they'd go on with the cattle and sometimes they'd stay at Frenchman's, or else Pete would meet them there and take them on in to Fallon and bring them out the next morning, and that's why we didn't have to camp on the road or anything like that. The cows with small calves they were generally always sent in in that first drive and then we'd have a roundup that would start generally over at Smith Creek. I didn't go over there anytime, but I always sent a man over there to represent us and then they'd move to Campbell Creek and that's where then, when we'd start, too. Go over to Campbell Creek and we'd ride and gather everything on that side - then move over to Eastgate - the Campbell Creek cowboys and the Smith Creek cowboys would come, too. We'd gather everything at Eastgate and they'd take theirs out and take them home the same as we did when we were at their place, we'd bring anything to Eastgate. They found there, there'd be some of our cattle get over there. There wasn't any drift fences then or anything, and then we pretty near always started the ride from Eastgate and Campbell Creek. Pete Cushman had a thing going that he'd always start the 10th day of September, come hell or high water, he'd start the 10 of September, and then it'd take about, oh, the rest of the month to finish up and get everything gathered and then, 'course the big cattle, the steers and dry cows and cows with the little calves, they could walk in. Then in November, the latter part of October, all the calves had to be weaned, and we had them there at Eastgate 'til we thought we had the biggest part of them gathered. There was only one old truck, a commercial truck in the valley then and we'd hire him to come and haul all the weaners to Eastgate, or to the home ranch here. Then if there was thin cows or cows with little young calves, why, we generally sent them along with the weaners, too. Then they'd be wintered down here at Cushman's home ranch and then in the Spring, why, they'd drive them back to Eastgate, and 'course it depended on the kind of Spring what time you could leave and if the grass was started, and so forth. Never was any certain time, just when the grass was good enough to turn them loose, and generally if the hay was all gone down here, well it was time to get them out of the valley.

TAYLOR: About how many miles was that that the cattle had to travel?

WILLIAMS: From Fallon to Eastgate, it's 56 miles and I guess Cushman's ranch was about 10 miles -knock about 10 miles off 56.

TAYLOR: About 46 miles.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Mm-hm.

TAYLOR: And it took you about 4 days to make the drive?

WILLIAMS: Right, if everything went good and sometimes, if they didn't go too good, why, we'd have to stop at Sand Springs or... Let’s see then sometimes the cattle wouldn't want to come. There used to be big corrals at Salt Wells, we'd stop there And I told you, come to think about it, on the road from Westgate to Frenchman's, that was the way it was. Then sometimes, if the cattle didn't go good, you'd have to stay at Sand Springs, so it would take probably 5 days, most of the time. Yeah well uh… it’s a grand house, big, made out of, they call it "tuff" stone. The blocks were sawd out just like putting up a block house, what they call lap and tap, I guess. They always said it was built by sheepherders, but these sheepherders were from Spain, and everything is build with rock in Spain and they were rock masons and great ones, but they built that house, I think it was started in about 1908, somewhere along in there. Mrs. Hill, the lady I was talking about a while ago that Pete rented from at first, was born there and that's the time she thought it was built, couldn’t remember. They got that rock, there was a big round dome of it down about 3 miles west of the ranch and it just now it sits in between the old highway and the new highway, down there about 3 miles. In fact there’s a spring not far from it and the spring was named "White Rock" for this big white rock. Well, they'd chisel that out of there and I guess shoot (blast) it maybe, and haul it up there in big chunks and these fellows engineered it. Course there was a big Indian camp there at Eastgate then and they got help that way, but they sawed those blocks out and used what they used to call ice saws for sawing ice, that's what they sawed it with. It's great for building anything, but there's one thing it can't stand, and that's moisture. If any water runs on it, it will deteriorate but, of course, the house had big eaves out - no rain or water ever got onto it at all, or anything like that, they saw to that. Where the rock sits around and moisture gets on it, it deteriorates it. In the house up at Alpine, it was a big house and it was built with the same material, hauled from the same place, only it's a different kind of building. Instead of the joints being, well, I guess, like they call it lap and tap, those joints are staggered and they zig-zag down. I don't know just how to explain it to you, but anyway, it's different than the Eastgate house, but it was a grand big house, too. I just forget how many rooms it had. Alpine was an old way station when the old freight road went through Wadsworth to Austin, when Austin was booming. People would stay all night there and stay there and they - I forget how many rooms there is in it, but every one of those rooms has an outside door on the downstairs opening out. When you go around on the east side of it, there's a whole row of doors. It was abandoned when - there wasn't anybody living there for several years and it just about fell down, something like the Eastgate house, but some people bought it and they've restored it to - it really looks nice.

TAYLOR: That’s the one at Alpine?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, mm-hm. They had a boys' school there for awhile. I haven't heard anything about it for quite awhile. I don't know whether it's still going or anything about it. They had one time, 10 to 15 boys there going to school.

TAYLOR: Alrighty can you tell us something about the hay raising operation at Eastgate?

WILLIAMS: well, it all depended on water and the runoff from the Pine Mountains up - back of Eastgate. There was enough water run there was a big spring came out from under the highway, up the canyon aways, right where the canyon opens up - there's generally enough water there to irrigate the first two fields. Then if there was a good snow pack, why, we could have the fields on down below, and if it looked like there was going to be pretty good runoff plenty of water, why, we put in oats and rye and cut it all for hay, and we never did have a complete failure. There'd be like I say maybe just the two upper fields, but - then after I went there, there was a field down below aways that'd hadn't been anything done with it for years. The brush had grown back on it, so we cleared the brush all off, and I  seeded that back to alfalfa. It was beautiful hay. We irrigated with corrigations.

TAYLOR: Was that the first crop that had ever been raised on that land?

WILLIAMS: No. no. There'd been hay there before, but the ranch had kind of been in litigation for a few years and after the depression, it kinda went downhill. It's really wonderful land. It isn't like a lot of land in the valley here, it's spotted, one side of the field to the other was just the same ground and of course, there was a lot of it sediment and silt had been washed in there and floods at different times. We cut the best year we had close to 5,000 bales of hay. We had 4,800 and something but we were very careful with that hay and didn't waste any of it and we generally tried to have a little left over in the Spring. One time we had enough hay there that we run out of hay down here in the valley and it was pretty hard to get and Pete sent about 200 cows and yearlings out and we fed them there about a month.


[There is NO audio for the next section but it was on the original transcript]


We were still living there before the Lahontan Dam was built. There was lots of snow in the mountains and when it melted the water all came down the Carson River with no way to control it. A few years before this time a man had built his own dam on the Carson River and this had forced the river to make a narrow channel through Fallon. When all this water came down the river it brought down trees and brush that got caught on the railroad bridge and caused some of the water to go back into the old channel. This made a river north of town and the new channel at the south end of town. A big lake was formed all around Fallon which was just enough higher than the river to not be flooded. All the area where the high school is now was a lake extending all around the town. I don't remember how long this water stayed but it was several days. The only way in and out of town was by horse back. The man who had built the dam that started the trouble got scared because he thought he would be in trouble for putting in the dam and he left town in a hurry - as far as I know on one ever heard from him again.





When we got to the place we were to stay over night there was hay there for the cattle but no water - it just had not got down that far. There were five of us and three were to stand guard and watch the cattle till midnight then Lij' Sanford and I were to take over the rest of the night. The cattle had had a good feed and they bedded down pretty good until about 4 o'clock - near daylight, then they started to get restless and bawl and move around so we just started them toward Frenchman Station. We woke up the rest of the crew and sent the cook with the wagon on ahead.

There was no water for cattle at Frenchman Station. When we gotthere the cook hadn't cooked any breakfast for us – said he didn't know if he was supposed to or not. The cattle wouldn't settle down and we couldn't take time for him to get a fire going and cook breakfast so we went on. The next station was at Sand Springs. There were corrals there and plenty of water and hay. The station was owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Brock. Mrs. Brock was well know for the good food she put out and that meal looked like a Thanksgiving feast. She stayed around the table and kept offering us more of this and more of that and we sure did eat. It was after dark when we got there and we hadn't had anything to eat since the night before.

The next morning we had breakfast and started on the last lap of the drive to Grimes Ranch which was at the east side of what is now the Navy Base. The cattle were put in corrals to wait for a buyer from California.




Sharon Lee Taylor


Roy Williams


Fallon, NV



Williams, Roy Cox--COMBINED INTERVIEW (FINAL).docx
Williams, Roy Cox (Combined Interview-FINAL).mp3


Churchill County Museum Association, “Roy Williams Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed May 23, 2024,