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History of Carlin
Carlin in the Beginning
Chinese Railroad Workers

                                        History of Carlin

 The date of record for the establishment of the community of Carlin is December 4, 1886.
Carlin began in the days of the Central Pacific Railroad's push eastward towards the linking of east and west with the driving of the last spike at Promontory Point in May of 1869.  The laborers building the railway were Chinese emigrants who settled and planted vegetable gardens here.  These vegetables were sold to residents and travelers.  Thus the community was referred to as Chinese Gardens.

 The town later became known as Carlin, named after William Passmore Carlin, who was a Union General in the Civil War, and stationed here in 1863 before the reservation was moved to Owyhee.  The word is that the three creeks around Carlin were named after his daughters - Maggie, Susie and Mary.

 The railroad which began hauling perishables needed a way of preserving the fruits that were being shipped from the west coast to the east coast.  Ponds adjacent to the tracks would freeze and men would cut the ice with saws and store the ice blocks in a building nearby.  As trains stopped on their way through, the workers would reload the cars with ice.  This method was used until the mid 1950's.

 Since the early 1960's, when modern mining techniques began being used, mining companies have been the major employers in the area.  With the advent of technology, mining has taken on an even more important role. Gold is no longer used just in the jewelry industry.  It is necessary for most any of today's conveniences you can name - CD players, microwaves, computers, aerospace, communications and medical laboratory equipment.

 A part of Carlin's history includes the Overland Stage Station & the original Carlin Stone House Ranch, both are now private homes.  Also the Carlin Post Office was established December 4, 1886.

"Carlin Business Directory". Carlin Economic Development Committee. Express Publications. Carlin, Nevada. July 1997.

                                CARLIN IN THE BEGINNING

from the files of The Old Timer

Carlin received its name from Captain William Passmore Carlin who camped one and a half miles up Maggie Creek with a troop of men.  He was on a military expedition from Camp Floyd in Utah to California.

The Central Pacific reached the present Carlin site in December of 1868.  Carlin was selected as the eastern terminus of Humbolt division and a town site was laid out.  The original post office was established on December 4, 1868.

Chinese laborers working on the construction of the railroad planted gardens and the site  was known as “Chinese Gardens,” but when the railroad was completed to Carlin, the name was changed.  The Chinese community was located south of and across the alley form the  present day City Hall. It extended west, to south of the old S. P. (Southern Pacific) freight house, in the location of the City Club and that area.  Most of the Chinese worked for the railroad, washing engines, pushing the “turntable” around and other menial jobs.  Others of the Chinese community operated stores and laundries, or they worked as cooks.  Very few Chinese women were found in Carlin.

In the year 1868, the migration of men and their families began the arrival in the Carlin area.  Most of the migrants worked for the railroad in the shops and in the roundhouse.  At this time, the pioneer ranchers came, such as S. Pierce, C. Boyden, James Clark and T. Griffin.  After the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad at Carlin, there was much competition among some of the pioneers in Carlin to build toll roads and enter the stage and freight business.  These freight and stage lines connected the railroad with mines and towns such as Eureka, Austin, Mineral Hill and others.

Payne, Palmer and James Russell formed a partnership and opened a stage line over their White Pine Toll Road in 1869.  The road went from Carlin by way of Woodruff Canyon, through Cole Canyon to Pine Valley to Mineral  Hill and other points.  The present home of  Mrs. Betty Pearson is still the standing “Stage station!”

The Carlin School District was created by Elko County Commissioners in 1869.  The first school only lasted a few days as reported by the press:

“Some two weeks ago, one J.D. Douglas made his debut among us, accompanied by a young and delicate female and infant.  He represented that they were his own darling wife and infant., and that he was a  pedagogue of the first water, and by his smooth oily tongue and plausible manner induced some of our enterprising citizens to assist him in buying a canvas house and starting a school.  On Thursday last, the woman came rushing into the railroad office alleging that Douglas had beaten her shamefully and had threatened to take her life.  On investigation, there was disclosed that she had deserted her husband and tow children in Salt Lake City for the “Gay deceiver.”  Friday morning found the deceiver chasing the “Star of Empire” in the direction of Winnemucca and the woman headed for “Brigham’s Paradise,” a sadder wiser woman.  The music of the school bell and birch rod have died away in the quiet city of Carlin and Young America once more has free license to make mud pies, shie shooting crackers under the feet of spirited horses or tie belligerent cats’ tails together.”

Six months later, on January 1, 1870, school again opened with Miss Platt as teacher.  A school house was erected in 1871 at the cost of $1,500.00 and was built with funds raised by popular subscription. In 1875, a larger two story brick school replaced the first one and remained as the school until one was razed in 1909.

The population of Carlin in 1871 was 800.  Carlin had a post office and a library furnished by the railroad.  The library contained 1100 volumes and the reading room was equipped with lounges, chairs, and a piano.  The library burned to the ground in 1879 entailing a $3,000.00 loss.

Carlin was a self contained community that found its own amusements and entertainment.  Skating  parties on the river, dances and other special entertainment in the winter months.  Baseball games and swimming in the river was the draw in the summer time.  Carlin challenged Elko to baseball games and visa versa.  Spectators loyally supported the home team and seldom was a game played that did not end in a donny brook.

Dances brought special pleasure and the young folks from Elko often attended.  Many times a “special” was chartered from the Central Pacific Railroad for accommodating Elko young ladies and young men to attend the dance.

By 1884, a roundhouse, machine shop, four stores, one hotel, two saloons, two restaurants, two blacksmith shops, one telegraph office, one express office, one jail were businesses that comprised the town.  There was no church but the Episcopal denomination held services each Sunday and had been doing so since 1881.

On June 29, 1890, Josiah and Elizabeth Potts were executed by hanging in Elko for the murder of Miles Faucett in Carlin in 1889.

W.  F. Linebarger came to Carlin in 1878 to work for the railroad.  Around 1900, he and William Raines opened a grocery store.  Linebarger was an aggressive business man and not only ran the grocery store, but also the railroad hotel.  He built an ice house on 6th Street and Camp. He cut ice in the winter and hauled it to his ice house and covered the ice with sawdust to keep it for summer use.  By 1910, Linebarger owned and operated the store, a restaurant, a freight business to Lynn Creek, a coal business, a dairy, a ranch and a saloon.  He later made John Scott a partner in the store.  His son, Zern became his partner in the ranching operation.

Three men at different times published a town newspaper.  The Commonwealth, started September 8, 1909.  The Homebuilder, was a weekly that ceased publication November 23, 1916. The Nevada Democrat, started in 1917, but was short lived.

In 1918, Carlin’s population had dropped to 400 and the town was in a state of doldrums.  There was little civic improvement.  There were very few trees and few flowers or gardens.  The few gardens and flowers that there were, had to be watered by a bucked from private wells.

The town slowly came to life and by 1923, acquired a Volunteer Fire Department and one fire engine.  The town purchased a power plant from Metropolis for town use from 4 P.M. until midnight each day and also, furnished electricity on Mondays and Tuesdays between the hours of 7 A.M. until noon. This was in order that the wives could wash and iron the family clothes.

The present water system was installed in 1935 under the Federal Works Project Administration.  Many of the towns folk and teenagers worked on the job, and all who did were glad to get the work.

                                        Chinese Railroad Workers

by Fawn Chung, Associate Professor
University of Nevada Las Vegas

Prior to the founding of the town in December 1868, Chinese railroad workers had been sent ahead to the area by the Central Pacific Railroad supervisor to prepare the land.  In keeping with their agricultural background, some planted vegetables on the Humboldt River so in the early days the town was called "Chinese Gardens".  After the railroad was completed in 1869, many Chinese were still employed by the railroad for maintenance and other work until 1890's.  The construction and maintenance of the Transcontinental Railroad was a major contributor to the economic development of the West.  Other Chinese worked as cooks. especially in hotels that served the railroad passengers, operated boarding houses and did laundry.  A small number were able to farm, providing fresh vegetables and fruits for the neighboring communities, or work as cowboys and sheepherders.  A few Chinese women also lived in the community.
 When the Chinese Minister to the United States, Chen Lanbin, passed through Carlin in 1876 on his way to Washington, D.C., he observed three hundred or more Chinese in the town, including wives and families.  They were on hand to greet him.
 Census records, which were always inaccurate especially where the Chinese were concerned, never showed such a large Chinese population but by 1900 Carlin still had a Chinese population f note.  Three Chinese males worked as cooks in a hotel owned by Samuel Howard.  As in the case of Tuscarora, the Lee family probably dominated the Chinese community with Sing Lee(born 1862, immigrated 1878) as prominent merchants and D.F. Lee (born 1854, immigrated 1870) a cook and his wife Ah Quay (born 1852, immigrated 1885) as other notable community members, all with an ability to speak English.  Wah Lee (born 1862, immigrated 1886) and his partner Tuo Chung (born 1855, immigrated 1882) operated one of several Chinese laundries in town. A majority of the men were married, but lived separately from their wives, who probably could not have endured the hardships of frontier life and/or had to help support the parents in China.
 Like other Chinese communities in Nevada, the Chinese population in Carlin began to decline rapidly after 1900 and eventually probably disappeared by the 1920's or 1930's.