Nevada Historic Markers in Elko County: Pilot Peak

Nevada Historical Marker 46
Pilot Peak
Ten Miles West of Wendover

Nevada Historical Marker 46: Pilot Peak in Elko County
Nevada Historical Marker 46: Pilot Peak in Elko County
14 July 2008
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Pilot Peak

The high, symmetrically shaped mountain seen rising to the north is Pilot Peak. In the period 1845-1850, it was a famous landmark and symbol of hope and relief to the Reed-Donner Party and all other wagon train pioneers who traveled the 70-odd deadly, thirst and heat-ridden miles of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Across this desert, between the Cedar Range on the east and Pilot Peak on the west, stretched perhaps the worst section of the infamous Hastings Cutoff of the California Emigrant Trail.

The peak was named by John C. Fremont on his expedition of 1845. Kit Carson, the expedition's guide, sent ahead to locate water, found a line of springs at its eastern base, now known as McKellar Springs. Carson is reputed to have guided the rest of Fremont's expedition across the salt desert by sending up smoke signals from the peak; hence, Fremont's name for it.

During the years 1847-1850, relief parties sallied forth periodically with water from the Pilot Peak springs to rescue and succor the thirst-crazed emigrants and their livestock struggling across the terrible salt desert to the eastward.

State Historic Marker No. 46
Nevada State Park System
Northeastern Nevada Historical Society

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