History of Elko County

 History of Carlin
 Carlin in the beginning
 The Chinese Gardens
Pioneers - William Passmore Carlin

History of Carlin

    The date of record for the establishment of the community of Carlin is December 4, 1886.
        Carlin began in the days of the Central Pacific Railroad's push eastward towards the linking of east and west with the driving of the last spike at Promontory Point in May of 1869.  The laborers building the railway were Chinese emigrants who settled and planted vegetable gardens here.  These vegetables were sold to residents and travelers.  Thus the community was referred to as Chinese Gardens.
        The town later became known as Carlin, named after William Passmore Carlin, who was a Union General in the Civil War, and stationed here in 1863 before the reservation was moved to Owyhee.  The word is that the three creeks around Carlin were named after his daughters - Maggie, Susie and Mary.
        The railroad which began hauling perishables needed a way of preserving the fruits that were being shipped from the west coast to the east coast.  Ponds adjacent to the tracks would freeze and men would cut the ice with saws and store the ice blocks in a building nearby.  As trains stopped on their way through, the workers would reload the cars with ice.  This method was used until the mid 1950's.
        Since the early 1960's, when modern mining techniques began being used, mining companies have been the major employers in the area.  With the advent of technology, mining has taken on an even more important role. Gold is no longer used just in the jewelry industry.  It is necessary for most any of today's conveniences you can name - CD players, microwaves, computers, aerospace, communications and medical laboratory equipment.
        A part of Carlin's history includes the Overland Stage Station & the original Carlin Stone House Ranch, both are now private homes.  Also the Carlin Post Office was established December 4, 1886.

"Carlin Business Directory". Carlin Economic Development Committee.  Express Publications. Carlin, Nevada. July 1997.

Carlin, Nevada 89822
Home of the Railroaders
Carlin: Incorporated 1971
Location: Northeastern Nevada - Elko County
Area:  3 square miles
Elevation: 4,850 Feet
Population: 2,710

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Chinese Railroad Workers
by Fawn Chung, Associate Professor
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Used by permission of The Carlin Express, Ruth Hart, Publisher/Editor

Prior to the founding of the town in December 1868, Chinese railroad workers had been sent ahead to the area by the Central Pacific Railroad supervisor to prepare the land.  In keeping with their agricultural background, some planted vegetables on the Humboldt River so in the early days the town was called "Chinese Gardens".  After the railroad was completed in 1869, many Chinese were still employed by the railroad for maintenance and other work until 1890's.  The construction and maintenance of the Transcontinental Railroad was a major contributor to the economic development of the West.  Other Chinese worked as cooks especially in hotels that served the railroad passengers, operated boarding houses and did laundry.  A small number were able to farm, providing fresh vegetables and fruits for the neighboring communities, or work as cowboys and sheepherders.  A few Chinese women also lived in the community.
        When the Chinese Minister to the United States, Chen Lanbin, passed through Carlin in 1876 on his way to Washington, D.C., he observed three hundred or more Chinese in the town, including wives and families.  They were on hand to greet him.
        Census records, which were always inaccurate especially where the Chinese were concerned, never showed such a large Chinese population but by 1900 Carlin still had a Chinese population of note.  Three Chinese males worked as cooks in a hotel owned by Samuel Howard.  As in the case of Tuscarora, the Lee family probably dominated the Chinese community with Sing Lee (born 1862, immigrated 1878) as prominent merchants and D.F. Lee (born 1854, immigrated 1870) a cook and his wife Ah Quay (born 1852, immigrated 1885) as other notable community members, all with an ability to speak English.  Wah Lee (born 1862, immigrated 1886) and his partner Tuo Chung (born 1855, immigrated 1882) operated one of several Chinese laundries in town. A majority of the men were married, but lived separately from their wives, who probably could not have endured the hardships of frontier life and/or had to help support the parents in China.
        Like other Chinese communities in Nevada, the Chinese population in Carlin began to decline rapidly after 1900 and eventually probably disappeared by the 1920's or 1930's.

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from the files of the Old Timer

Carlin received its name from Captain William Passmore Carlin who camped
one and a half miles up Maggie Creek with a troop of men.  He was on a
military expedition from Camp Floyd in Utah to California.

The Central Pacific reached the present Carlin site in December of
1868.  Carlin was selected as the eastern terminus of Humbolt division
and a town site was laid out.  The original post office was established
on December 4, 1868.

Chinese laborers working on the construction of the railroad planted
gardens and the site  was known as "Chinese Gardens," but when the
railroad was completed to Carlin, the name was changed.  The Chinese
community was located south of and across the alley form the  present
day City Hall. It extended west, to south of the old S. P. (Southern
Pacific) freight house, in the location of the City Club and that area.
Most of the Chinese worked for the railroad, washing engines, pushing
the "turntable" around and other menial jobs.  Others of the Chinese
community operated stores and laundries, or they worked as cooks.  Very
few Chinese women were found in Carlin.

In the year 1868, the migration of men and their families began the
arrival in the Carlin area.  Most of the migrants worked for the
railroad in the shops and in the roundhouse.  At this time, the pioneer
ranchers came, such as S. Pierce, C. Boyden, James Clark and T.
Griffin.  After the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad at Carlin,
there was much competition among some of the pioneers in Carlin to build
toll roads and enter the stage and freight business.  These freight and
stage lines connected the railroad with mines and towns such as Eureka,
Austin, Mineral Hill and others.

Payne, Palmer and James Russell formed a partnership and opened a stage
line over their White Pine Toll Road in 1869.  The road went from Carlin
by way of Woodruff Canyon, through Cole Canyon to Pine Valley to
Mineral  Hill and other points.  The present home of  Mrs. Betty Pearson
is still the standing "Stage station!"

The Carlin School District was created by Elko County Commissioners in
1869.  The first school only lasted a few days as reported by the press:

"Some two weeks ago, one J.D. Douglas made his debut among us,
accompanied by a young and delicate female and infant.  He represented
that they were his own darling wife and infant., and that he was a
pedagogue of the first water, and by his smooth oily tongue and
plausible manner induced some of our enterprising citizens to assist him
in buying a canvas house and starting a school.  On Thursday last, the
woman came rushing into the railroad office alleging that Douglas had
beaten her shamefully and had threatened to take her life.  On
investigation, there was disclosed that she had deserted her husband and
tow children in Salt Lake City for the "Gay deceiver."  Friday morning
found the deceiver chasing the "Star of Empire" in the direction of
Winnemucca and the woman headed for "Brigham’s Paradise," a sadder wiser
woman.  The music of the school bell and birch rod have died away in the
quiet city of Carlin and Young America once more has free license to
make mud pies, shie shooting crackers under the feet of spirited horses
or tie belligerent cats’ tails together."

Six months later, on January 1, 1870, school again opened with Miss
Platt as teacher.  A school house was erected in 1871 at the cost of
$1,500.00 and was built with funds raised by popular subscription. In
1875, a larger two story brick school replaced the first one and
remained as the school until one was razed in 1909.

The population of Carlin in 1871 was 800.  Carlin had a post office and
a library furnished by the railroad.  The library contained 1100 volumes
and the reading room was equipped with lounges, chairs, and a piano.
The library burned to the ground in 1879 entailing a $3,000.00 loss.

Carlin was a self contained community that found its own amusements and
entertainment.  Skating  parties on the river, dances and other special
entertainment in the winter months.  Baseball games and swimming in the
river was the draw in the summer time.  Carlin challenged Elko to
baseball games and visa versa.  Spectators loyally supported the home
team and seldom was a game played that did not end in a donny brook.

Dances brought special pleasure and the young folks from Elko often
attended.  Many times a "special" was chartered from the Central Pacific
Railroad for accommodating Elko young ladies and young men to attend the

By 1884, a roundhouse, machine shop, four stores, one hotel, two
saloons, two restaurants, two blacksmith shops, one telegraph office,
one express office, one jail were businesses that comprised the town.
There was no church but the Episcopal denomination held services each
Sunday and had been doing so since 1881.

On June 29, 1890, Josiah and Elizabeth Potts were executed by hanging in
Elko for the murder of Miles Faucett in Carlin in 1889.

W.  F. Linebarger came to Carlin in 1878 to work for the railroad.
Around 1900, he and William Raines opened a grocery store.  Linebarger
was an aggressive business man and not only ran the grocery store, but
also the railroad hotel.  He built an ice house on 6th Street and Camp.
He cut ice in the winter and hauled it to his ice house and covered the
ice with sawdust to keep it for summer use.  By 1910, Linebarger owned
and operated the store, a restaurant, a freight business to Lynn Creek,
a coal business, a dairy, a ranch and a saloon.  He later made John
Scott a partner in the store.  His son, Zern became his partner in the
ranching operation.

Three men at different times published a town newspaper.  The
Commonwealth, started September 8, 1909.  The Homebuilder, was a weekly
that ceased publication November 23, 1916. The Nevada Democrat, started
in 1917, but was short lived.

In 1918, Carlin’s population had dropped to 400 and the town was in a
state of doldrums.  There was little civic improvement.  There were very
few trees and few flowers or gardens.  The few gardens and flowers that
there were, had to be watered by a bucked from private wells.

The town slowly came to life and by 1923, acquired a Volunteer Fire
Department and one fire engine.  The town purchased a power plant from
Metropolis for town use from 4 P.M. until midnight each day and also,
furnished electricity on Mondays and Tuesdays between the hours of 7
A.M. until noon. This was in order that the wives could wash and iron
the family clothes.

The present water system was installed in 1935 under the Federal Works
Project Administration.  Many of the towns folk and teenagers worked on
the job, and all who did were glad to get the work.

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Captain William Passmore Carlin

written in the Carlin Express newspaper for 125 year Birthday issue for Carlin
Used by permission of The Carlin Express, Ruth Hart, Publisher/Editor

The 125th Birthday Celebration is to commemorate a community that sprung up from a tent city of workers here to place railroad tracks from the west towards the east to meet at Promontory Point.  These people were a part of the very beginning of Carlin, along with an Indian colony of reservation that was here and brought with it the man who bestowed the name Carlin upon us, Captain Passmore Carlin.  Who also named the three creeks, according to Reverend LaVern Inzer, who personally knows one of Captain Carlin’s Grandsons.  "The creeks," as Rev. Inzer tells, are very similar to the lives of Carlin’s three daughters.  Maggie who rarely if
ever runs dry was mother of 13 children.  Susie which bares water during the better half of a year, was the mother of two children.  Mary which is dry most of the time and  only carries the spring run off, had no children.  At the time the creeks were named the three daughters of Carlin were very young."  Reverend Inzer has also informed Carlin’s Grandson of the festivities and has invited him to join us.

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This page was created on 11 Nov 1997
It was last modified 11 Nov 1997