Despite being remote, Winnemucca's location along the Humboldt River travel corridor has connected it to the rest of the country and made it a welcome resting place for travelers and a center for trade and commerce through the present day.
Historically, Winnemucca has served as an oasis for overland motorists. With the arrival of motorized vehicles, service and fueling stations began to appear, as well as many food, lodging and supply businesses. As the transportation routes have developed over time, so have the vehicles that carry people and freight. Today the transportation corridor and Winnemucca's services continue to evolve with accommodation for new electric vehicles. Please visit the unique vehicle collection downstairs at the Humboldt Museum.
The Humboldt River itself has also changed through time. While it played a critical role in westward expansion and as a travel corridor which helped connect America, this use took its toll.
Starting with "the scorched earth policy" in the 1820s, the impact of thousands of emigrants and livestock, and the effects of irrigation and other modern developments, the Humboldt River today bears little resemblance to the river that provided so much to Native Americans. However, there is hope for the future. A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) restoration project in Elko County has
led to self-reintroduction of beavers, resulting in the creation of lush meadows and more diverse habitat and wildlife, perhaps reflective of how the Humboldt River would have looked in earlier times.
In 1992, Congress designated the California Trail National Historic Trail. In 200o it designated the Applegate Trail , the Nobles Route, and the surrounding terrain, as the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trail National Conservation Area. For more information on the California Trail please visit the California Trail Interpretive Center (CTIC) located eight miles west of Elko. Also watch out for outdoor interpretive signs at rest stops along I-80. Driving guides and other information are available at the CTIC, the Humboldt Museum, the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock, the Churchill County Museum in Fallon, the BLM Black Rock Station in Gerlach (April to October) and the BLM office in Winnemucca.
As you look below, or travel I-80, think of the river as it was, a sparking stream teaming with life, and the people who traveled its banks though the years. Enjoy your journey!