Submitted by scott on

A great deal of controversy has arisen over the location of the Willow Springs Station. Descriptions given by Nick Wilson (an Express rider) and Sir Richard Burton do not describe the location of the place now claimed to be the station site. A foundation, identified tentatively as dating to the proper period and similar to the structure depicted in the sketch from an 1868 photograph, has been found at the spot where an 1882 survey plat locates the Willow Springs Stable. This structure, located on the Dorcey Sabey property, is approximately 100 feet northeast of F. J. Kearney’s boarding house . This facility is about 3/4 mile east of the structure popularly known as the station house. Further archaeological investigations are necessary to establish the true location of the station.This station is on private land in the small ranching community of Callao. There is a monument next to the road. The locals are sure that it is on the Bagley ranch and still stands. Originally an adobe structure, it was covered with wood to keep it from washing away.
(Expedition Utah)

The location of the Willow Springs station, identified in the 1861 mail contract, remains controversial. Fike and Headley identify this site eight miles from Boyd's Station. A photograph from 1868 shows the Willow Springs stage station and adobe ruins next to it that possibly served as the Pony Express station. According to Fike and Headley, a foundation that possibly supported the Willow Springs stable exists "approximately 100 feet northeast of F. J. Kearney's boarding house [still standing in 1978] . . . [and] 3/4 mile east of the structure popularly known as the station house."

Terral King notes that the town of Callao now surrounds the Willow Springs Station site. In 1965 a monument stood near the gate to the Bagley Ranch, and preserved buildings associated with the Pony Express were painted red.
Other sources also refer to Willow Springs as a station but they do not agree on its location. Several sources place it between Boyd's and Canyon/Burnt Station. Bloss lists Willow Springs between Canyon Station and Deep Creek Station.


About an hour after our departure, we met the party commanded by Lieutenant Weed, two subaltern officers, ninety dragoons, and ten wagons; they had been in the field since May, and had done good service against the Gosh Yutas. We halted and "liquored up," and after American fashion, talked politics in the wilderness. Half an hour then led us to what we christened "Kennedy's Hole," another circular bowl, girt with grass and rush, in the plain under a dark brown rock, with black bands and scatters of stone. A short distance beyond, and also on the right of the road, lay the "Poison Springs," in a rushy bed: the water was temptingly clear, but the bleached bones of many a quadruped skeleton bade us beware of it. After turning a point we saw in front a swamp, the counterpart of what met our eyes last night; it renewed also the necessity of rounding it by a long southerly sweep. The scenery was that of the Takhashshua near Zayla, or the delicious land behind Aden, the Arabian sea-board. Sand-heaps -the only dry spots after rain - fixed by tufts of metallic green salsolae, and guarded from the desert wind by rusty cane grass, emerged from the wet and oozy plain, in which the mules often sank to the fetlock. The unique and snowy floor of thin nitre, bluish where deliquescent, was here solid as a sheet of ice, there a net work of little ridges, as if the salt had expanded by crystallization, with regular furrows worked by rain. After heavy showers it becomes a soft, slippery, tenacious, and slushy mud, that renders traveling exceeding laborious; the glare is blinding by day, and at night, the refrigerating properties of the salt render the wind bitterly cold, even when the mercury stands at 50deg F.

We halted to bait at the half way house, the fork of the road leading to Pleasant Valley, an unpleasant place, so called because discovered on a pleasant evening. As we advanced the land improved, the salt disappeared, the grass was splendidly green, and approaching the station we passed Willow Creek, where gopher-holes and snipes, willows and wild roses, told of life and gladdened the eye. The station lay on a bench beyond the slope. The express rider was a handsome young Mormon, who wore in his felt hat the effigy of a sword; his wife was an Englishwoman, who, as usual under the circumstances, had completely thrown off the Englishwoman. The station-keeper was an Irishman, one of the few met among the Saints. Nothing could be fouler than the log hut, the flies soon drove us out of doors; hospitality, however, was not wanting, and we sat down to salt beef and bacon, for which we were not allowed to pay. The evening was spent in setting a wolf-trap, which consisted of a springy pole and a noose: we strolled about after sunset with a gun, but failed to bag snipe, wild-fowl or hare, and sighted only a few cunning old crows, and black swamp birds with yellow throats. As the hut contained but one room we slept outside. The Gosh Yuta are apparently not a venturesome people, still it is considered advisable at times to shift one's sleeping quarters, and to acquire the habit of easily awaking.

To Deep Creek and halt 1st and 2d of October 1860

A "little war" had been waging near Willow Springs. In June the station was attacked by a small band of Gosh Yuta, of whom three were shot and summarily scalped; an energetic proceeding, which had prevented a repetition of the affair. The savages, who are gathering their pine nut harvest, and are driven by destitution to beg at the stations, to which one meal a week will attach them, are now comparatively peaceful: when the emigration season recommences they are expected to be troublesome, and their numbers - the Pa Yutas can bring 12,000 warriors into the field, render them formidable. Jake, the Shoshonee, who had followed us from Lost Springs, still considered his life in danger, he was as unwilling to wend his way alone as an Arab Bedouin or an African negro in their respective interiors. With regard to ourselves, Lieutenant Weed had declared that there was no danger; the station people thought, on the contrary, that the snake which had been scotched not killed, would recover after the departure of the soldiers, and that the work of destruction had not been carried on with sufficient vigor.
(The City of the Saints, pp 460-2)

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