Monthly Archives: February 2017

President Trump Moves To Eliminate The Waters of the US Rule

In a move sure to delight hundreds of thousands of rural property owners, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order requiring the EPA and other relevant agencies to reconsider the regulation known as the Waters of the US Rule.

An overreaching and zealously enforced set of regulations, the rule allowed the EPA and The Army Corps of Engineers to hold jurisdiction over ditches, wallows, and watering holes. Even those on private land. Today’s executive order also asks the Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the regulation now in place, with an eye toward stopping any  present enforcement.

Dyer and the Fish Lake Valley

On my travel list is Dyer and the Fish Lake Valley in sparsely populated Esmeralda County. The last U.S. census listed less than a thousand souls in the entire county, the majority in Goldfield. Enough water exists in the Fish Lake Valley to support alfalfa farming. Limited services are available in Dyer, the only settlement in the valley. The nearest large town is Bishop, CA, seventy miles to the west

Nevada State Historical Marker No. 133 reads:

This valley was settled when the Palmetto Mining District was discovered in 1866. In the 1870’s the Griffing & Wyman’s, as well as the Pacific Borax Works, were extracting borax at Fish Lake.

The Carson and Columbus stage line ran northward to Aurora and Carson City, making connections with Log Springs in the Sylvania District and Lida. Several local ranches supplied food to the freight industry and mining communities

A post office was opened at Fish Lake Valley in 1881.

This marker commemorates the life and times of W.O. Harrell, known as “Harrell, the Irrepressible,” Citizen extraordinaire of Fish Lake Valley in the 1870’s.

See also:

NWS Cancels Flood Warning for Dayton

The National Weather Service cancelled its flood warning for Dayton this Wednesday. Issued on Tuesday at 12:40 p.m., things looked dire for part of the small community. The southwest retention pond above east Dayton could have failed and citizens were told to be on alert.

Dayton has been described as the “Breadbasket of the Comstock” for its vital role in supplying food for miners working the historic strike. Gold was first found in Nevada on the Carson River near Dayton. The float was traced uphill to the Virginia City area in the early 1850’s and the gold and silver rush was on.


Nevada Test Site Experimental Farm

In the heart of Nye County was the Nevada Test Site, now known as the Nevada National Security Site. It’s where above and below ground nuclear testing was conducted starting in 1951. Testing continued through 1992.

An experimental dairy farm in Area 15 was established in 1963 to determine how radioactive iodine moved through the human food chain. The farm operated in the same way as a Grade A dairy, except that all milk produced was disposed as waste. A 15 acre farm plot for forage was laid out, along with individual pens for up to 26 milk cows. 18 years of experiments provided good insights into the the passage of radioactive materials through the so called “air-to-forage-to-cow-to-milk-pathway.”

A 100-cow beef herd was also maintained at the Test Site. The University of Nevada’s Experiment Station had a part in research on these animals, as well as two other herds kept off site. Bohmont wrote that “cattle were proven to be fine monitoring devices for radiation.” The other herds were located in Delmar Valley ninety miles northeast of the test site and at Knoll Creek near Elko, some 350 miles north.


Golden Years of Agriculture in Nevada, Dale Bohmont, Nevada Heritage Series. 1989.

Nevada Test Site Experimental Farm: Summary Report 1963 – 1981. EPA document. 1984.

Remains of Nevada Test Site Farm (EPA photo)



Operation Haylift

The winter of 1948 to 1949 in Northern Nevada found millions of sheep and cattle starving and stranded in the worst winter since 1889. The United States Air Force used C-82 cargo planes, so called “Flying Boxcars” to drop desperately needed hay to the marooned livestock. In the first seven days, 525 tons of alfalfa were dropped.

Caption and image below by UNR:

“Operation Haylift. Capt. D. L. Sayle, Operations Officer, 62nd Troop Carrier Group from McChord Field, Washington, plots his 250-mile course on a map while his C-82 flying boxcar planes are loaded early today with hay for starving, snowbound livestock in eastern Nevada. With him are Chief L. K. Vaughn, USN, Fallon base, and Flight Lt. Peter E. Berry, RAF exchange officer from Devonshire, England. Fallon, Nevada. January 24, 1949.”

Churchill County, Nevada
Electronic Publisher Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

Hollywood made Operation Haylift into a movie in 1950. The movie was filmed around Ely, the base of the original operation.

Earthen Dam Fails near Montello, Nevada

The AP and the Elko Daily Free Press report that an earthen dam near Montello in Elko County has failed. The incident occurred on February 8th.

A state of emergency was soon declared by county commissioners. Sheriff deputies were assigned to search for possible victims.

Authorities say extensive damage was caused to many ranches and farms. The town of Montello itself was flooded. 10 miles of State Route 233 were closed. The Union Pacific Railroad line was also impacted.

Nevada’s Water Resources Division engineer Jason King told the AP that the Twentyone Mile Dam passed an inspection last summer. The structure formerly held water for rural irrigation in Elko County.

Wikipedia states that Montello served as a community center for ranching operations in the 1920’s. Its population was 84 in the 2010 census.

2014 Montello photograph courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.



Revising Materials Complete

I’ve revised both the generic book proposal letter and the sample chapter. The sample chapter, on Clark County agriculture past and present, works much better viewed in Word.

While .pdf files are handy, they don’t retain all the formatting of the original Word file. Many links do not work because the .pdf conversion process add spaces to these URLs which in turn breaks them. There’s also link rot going on, in which the file I linked to no longer exists. Welcome to the internet.

As always, feel free to e-mail me with any questions.


Update: 02/12/2017. Revisions completed!

This week I’ll be updating the materials here at Expect this refresh to be completed by next Monday. That’s February, 13th.

The sample chapter posted to the home page will see the biggest changes. It focuses on Clark County. Since I wrote that .pdf, marijuana laws have changed, Gold Butte has become a National Monument, and I’ve gathered more information on the start of agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley.  All good reasons for a rewrite.

As always, feel free to contact me at any one of my e-mail addresses. is a good one.