Submitted by scott on Thu, 09/29/2016 - 10:13
Venue
Off
39° 30' 53" N , 116° 56' 48" W

Located on private land approximately 15 miles NE of Austin. This was one of the original Pony Express stations having been built in the spring of 1860. This area was named for Captain J.H. Simpson who first visited here on May 27, 1859 and spent the night in the vicinity. Simpson Park was probably used by the Overland Mail and Stage Line from July 1861 to 1862 or 1863, when the run was changed to go through Austin.

George Washington Perkins or “Wash” was a rider on the run between this station and Ruby Valley. In 1861 William James was hired on the run from here to Cold Springs. At 18, he was one of the best Pony Express riders in the service. He rode only 60 miles each way but covered his round trip of 120 miles in 12 hours including all stops. He always rode California mustangs, using 5 of these animals each way. His route crossed the summits of 2 mountain ridges, lay through the Shoshone Indian country and was one of the loneliest and most dangerous divisions on the line.(Expedition Utah)

Sources, including a 1979 BLM report, generally agree on the identity of this station, known as Simpson or Simpson's Park. The crew of Captain J. H. Simpson, who camped overnight here while surveying a wagon road in May 1859, gave his name to the area. In the spring of 1860, the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company or Pony Express established a station at Simpson Park, known for its abundant wood, water, and grass. On May 20, 1860, the day before the attack on Dry Creek Station, Indians raided Simpson Park, killed James Alcott, the stationkeeper, scattered the livestock, and burned the station. When Richard Burton arrived at Simpson Park on October 13, 1860, he found an incomplete new station house. During the last few months of the Pony Express, riders shared the station with the Overland Mail Company line, which stopped its stagecoaches at Simpson Park during most of the 1860s, until company officials shifted the route to include Austin.(NPS)

"On the seventeenth day we passed the highest mountain peaks we had yet seen, and although the day was very warm the night that followed upon its heels was wintry cold and blankets were next to useless." (Roughing It)

The road wound in the shape of the letter U round the impassable part of the ridge. Crossing the north end of Smoky Valley, we came upon rolling ground, with water willows and cedars blazed - barked with a gash - for sign posts. Ensued a long kanyon, with a flat sole, not unlike Egan's, a gate by which the swift shallow stream had broken through the mountains: in places it was apparently a cul de sac; in others shoulder after shoulder rose in long perspective, with points and projections behind, which an enemy might easily turn. The granite walls were of Cyclopean form, with regular lines of cleavage, as in the Rattlesnake Hills, which gave a false air of stratification. The road was a mere path along and across the rivulet bed, and the lower slopes were garnished with the pepper grass and the everlasting bunch grass, so truly characteristic of the Basin State. Above us, in the pellucid sky, towered the eagle in his pride of place; the rabbit ran before us from the thicket; the ground squirrel cached himself in the sage bush; and where distance appeared, smokes upcurling in slow heavy masses told us that man was not far distant. A second divide, more abrupt than the former, placed us in sight of Simpson's Park - and such a park! a circlet of tawny stubble, embosomed in sage grown hills, the "Hire" or "Look out," and others, without other tree but the deformed cedars. The bottom is notorious for cold; it freezes even in June and July; and our night was, as may be imagined, none of the pleasantest .

The station house in Simpson's Park was being rebuilt. As we issued from Mormondom into Christendom, the civility of our hosts perceptibly diminished; the judge, like the generality of Anglo-Americans, did unnecessary kow-tow to those whom republicanism made his equals, and the "gentlemen" when asked to do any thing, became exceedingly surly. Among them was one Giovanni Brutisch, a Venetian, who, flying from conscription had found a home in Halifax: an unfortunate fire which burned down his house drove him to the Far West. He talked copiously of the Old Country, breathed the usual aspirations of Italia una, and thought that Garibaldi would do well "se non la moleslcmo" - a euphuism accompanied by a look more expressive than any nod. The station was well provided with good minies, and the men apparently expected to use them; it was, however, commanded by the neighboring heights, and the haystacks were exposed to fire at a time of the year when no more forage could be collected. The Venetian made for us some good light bread of wheaten flour, started or leavened with hop water, and corn bread shortened with butter, and enriched with two or three eggs. A hideous Pa-Yuta and surly Shoshonee, whom I sketched, loitered about the station: they were dressed in the usual rabbit skin cape, and carried little horn bows, with which they missed small marks at fifteen paces. The boys, who were now aweary of watching, hired one of these men for a shirt - tobacco was not to be had, and a blanket was too high pay - to mount guard through the night. Like the Paggi or Ramoosee of Western India, one thief is paid to keep off many: the Indian is the best of wardens, it being with him a principle not to attack what the presence of a fellow tribesman defends.

To Reese's River, 13th October.
Simpson's Park lies 195 miles from Carson City where we might consider the journey at an end; yet the cold of night did not allow us to set out before 10 AM. Our route lay across the park, which was dotted with wheat grass and broom like reeds rising from a ground saupoudre like salt. Presently we began to ascend Simpson's Pass, a long kanyon whose sloping sides and benches were dotted with the green bunch grass. At the divide we found the Sage Springs whose position is too elevated for the infiltration of salt: they are consequently sweet and wholesome. Descending by a rugged road we sighted every where on the heights the fires of the natives. They were not symbols of war, but signals - for which smokes are eminently adapted - made by tribes telegraphing to one another, their being en route for their winter quarters. Below us Reese's River valley might have served for a sketch in the African desert: a plain of saleratus, here yellow with sand or hay, there black with fire there brown where the skin of earth showed through her garb of rags, and beyond it were chocolate colored hills, from whose heads curled blue smokes of volcanic appearance.
(The City of the Saints, p 484-6)

Pony-Stagecoach