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Wells Travel Info
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Trail of the 49ers Interpretive Center, 395 6th St. If you think traveling in your car is uncomfortable and boring, think what it was like for the pioneers in covered wagons!

The Nevada
Travel Network
Description and History of
by David W. Toll

The 4-Way is Wells' most prominent landmark
From The Complete Nevada Traveler, the Affectionate and Intimately Detailed Guidebook to the Most Interesting State in America. Buy the Book Here

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Commercial Row was a bustling Main Street until the 1940s.
THE CALIFORNIA TRAIL joins the headwaters of the Humboldt River near the present site of Wells, and this region saw the westward passage of the covered wagons until the coming of the railroad. It was in September, 1869, Humboldt Wells was established as a station on the Union Pacific Railroad: a Wells Fargo office, a log shanty saloon, and the station office in a boxcar.

By 1872 stores and hotels had been added to the single business street paralleling the west side of the tracks, and stagecoaches ran south into White Pine County three times a week. devastating fires in 1877, 1881 and 1900 interrupted development, and lacking any business beyond that provided by the railroad and the ranches, growth was very slow.

US 40 came through town on 6th Street.
Since the turn of the century, Wells, like many of the old railroad towns, has slowly shifted its center away from the railroad tracks. In the 1940s businesses migrated a block south to US 40, and in the 1980s the little town began an agonizing stretch toward I-80. The last business on Commercial Row — Quilici's, a 60-year institution — closed in 1991. Thirteen saloons once provided entertainment to railroad travelers. Now even the Bullhead Bar, the last and most famous of them, with its big dance floor upstairs, is closed and padlocked, although plans are afoot to restore it.

Wells' prosperity is solidly based in the crossroads created by I-80 and U.S. 93. I-80 is a main east-west transcontinental artery. U.S. 93 extends from Alaska to Panama, and one day you'll be able to gas up at Wells and drive south to Tierra del Fuego. It is a road favored by the Canadian "Snowbirds" — not the aviators, but the folks who like to winter in the south, with the sun. They come down with the geese in the fall, and they head back with them again in the spring, on their way home to British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The geese settle down in the Ruby Marshes, but the Canadians prefer Wells.

The 4-Way Casino, at the highway intersection, recently spent a half million dollars to grow bigger. Near the ramp on the west end of town, Chinatown spent more than that but did not survive. The Chamber of Commerce is located on Sixth Street and now houses the Trail of the 49ers Interpretive Center with artifacts and exhibits focused on the wagon trains that rumbled along the Humboldt Trail from the 1840s to the 1860s.

The countryside is considerably wilder than it looks from Sixth Street, Wells' principal boulevard, which is so peaceful that it seems to tame everything within view. But Wells is not far from the bobcat's lair and the eagle's nest; during a recent visit a mating pair of great horned owls was entertaining onlookers on Sixth Street.

Antelope season, which starts in August, provides an outstanding hunt, and an opportunity for a world record animal. The Rubies to the south are favored for black powder and bow and arrow hunting. There's an upland game season for cottontails, and predator hunting for coyotes. There's good duck hunting along the Humboldt River and out at Tobar Flat, on the fringe of Snow Water Lake. Up at Angel Lake, 8" catchable trout are stocked every year, and the fishing is very good in winter, although you'll have to drill through as much as three feet of ice to wet your hook. The fishing is also excellent at Salmon Falls Creek and its tributaries in the primitive country. Go to Jiggs Creek if you're out for trophy-sized trout, or to Crittenden Reservoir. There you'll catch beautiful big rainbows — as big as 19" in length, and 11-1/4" in girth — with flies and artificial lures. The limit is three fish, and nothing smaller than 15" can be taken. A couple of men who spent 2-1/2 days fishing Crittenden caught and released over 200 fish, only keeping the ones longer than 20".

Go south to the Ruby Marshes and trophy trout go unnoticed because the bass fishing is so good. Try Starr Creek for trophy sized German Browns. And at Dakes' Reservoir north of Montello there are state trophy-sized Northern Pike available. You'll find as much camping, hiking and mountain climbing as you care to indulge in, there's cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter, even downhill skiing in which you climb to the summits in a snow cat to ski down trackless mountainsides.

The vast lawned City Park across from the high school provides you with picnic tables and barbecue grills and a comfortable romp with the kids. There is also a swimming pool, a children's playground and a "pleasantly undemanding" 9-hole golf course.

The brick City of Wells office on Clover Street was once the dormitory for ranch kids who boarded over the winter in town so they could go to school. These kids ride the bus to school now, but some of them have to ride 50 miles just to meet the bus for its 50 mile run to town. High school attendance still drops during deer season, and whenever livestock is being moved.

Take the paved 12 mile drive to Angel Lake, a small blue jewel tucked up under the summits of the East Humboldt Range. Fish, swim, or set up in one of the Forest Service campsites. There are more campsites at nearby Angel Creek and from either spot hiking trails lead up to the unusual Hole-In-The-Mountain Peak. Or go northwest the 13 miles to the ruins of Metropolis, the ambitious city abandoned in the sagebrush.

You can travel on the California Trail northeast of Wells by taking Highway 93 north 26 miles to the well-marked Winecup Ranch turnoff to the east, and continuing 15 miles to the sign-marked Mammoth Ruts. This is a section of the California Trail, worn down as much as six feet below the floor of Thousand Springs Valley, one of the few places where the passage of the pioneers can still be seen today. You can continue on about 60 miles to Jackpot, or return to US 93.

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