Bonita (Nye Co.)

N 39.0624272 W 117.5331556 - South Shoshone Peak NV QUAD or N 39.00754 W 117.46545 Barrett Canyon QUAD

VISITED June 6, D-DAY, 2015
Our Breakfast: Eggs at Jerry's in Fallon
Our Dinner: Burgers at Top-Gun in Fallon
From Fallon:
East on U.S 50 for 107 miles; turn south onto SR 722 for 36 miles; head west on local dirt roads for about 6.3 miles.

This is listed in many ghost town books and web sites as a mining camp and/or stage stop on the Ione - Austin Stage Road. It's location is ambiguous-- according to the USGS- allegedly up Bonita Canyon. Their source of info is Shawn Hall's book, believe it or not. Other, less detailed maps show it to be at the mouth of the canyon or on the Reese River road. There is a USGS marker called "Bonita" down this main road, where a stage stop would logically be, since a location up Bonita canyon would be seriously out of the way. No one seems to really know where it is. So we went looking for info.

The road from Austin to Ione and Grantsville was an important one.

Hundreds of wagons a month traveled eastward along the Central Overland Trail bringing supplies from California, which would then be distributed out of Austin. From 1863 to 1868, Austin was the supply center for central Nevada, servicing Ione, Grantsville, White Pine, and dozens of other camps. Huge quantities of freight flowed into the community, and then on to the outlying areas
- (Abbe 1985; Angel 1866).

So the freight road was most heavily used well before the time Bonita came into being in 1906 or 1907. We think that is when it was established because

1907 January 24
Mr. [Henry] Lincoln brought in some samples of ore that certainly fascinate the eye. New camps are springing up like mushrooms in the rich district. Union lies twenty miles west of Duluth; Lodi is ten miles west; Bonita, an entirely new camp, twenty miles east, and Wonder is 40 miles north. Then there are Berlin, Lovelocks, Seven troughs, Rabbit Hole, and others. It is the well grounded opinion that the mineral belt is an extension from the southern district and follows the coast line.
-Reno Evening Gazette


1907 April 27
Secure options on Rish Properties in Vicinity of Bonita-- Many Claims Being Developed
Charles M. Schwab, who has an army of experts all over the state of Nevada looking for good things in the mining line has invaded the Reese River country, in the vicinity of Bonita, a new camp in the south end of the Shoshone range, and promises to carry off one of the prizes there.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1907 February 13
Henry Lincoln, President and tresurer of the Lincoln Mining Company with properties at Bonita, Union, and Duluth, spent several days in town this week on business. He reports great activity at the above camps and says that as soon as the weather permits there will be over 60 miners employed on the lincoln prperties, and that the firce will be added to gradually. The postoffice address of the Lincoln Co. is Berlin, Nevada.
-Reese River Reveille

Well, you may THINK you're getting a post office......

1907 March 23
A postoffice is assured for the town of Bonita. The townsite is the most beautiful of any in Nevada, situated among the pines and has abundant water. There are twenty tents, two frame houses and a saloon, and several frame hosues in course of contruction, and teh camp present a lively appearance. John. F. Bowler is the manager of the Townsite Company. Austin, March 22, 1907 Special Correspondent.
-Reese River Reveille

John F. Bowler's wife was named Emma, so this is probably how the Emma Bowler Mining District referred to in several articles got its name.

1907 April 6
At the new camp of Bonita in the Reese River mining district, all is flourish and activity, and as soon as the snow disappaears that section will hold the attention of propspectors and mining men for some time to come.
Riggs and Gordon, mining men of Goldfield, have already entered the field and have two shifts of men at work on their property. At a depth of fifty feet in the main working shaft on this property a strong ledge was encountered which gave away returns of from $12 to $500 in gold per ton. Both Mr. Riggs and Mr. Gordon are now on the ground and are highly elated over the present showings and predict a great future for the camp. Mrs. Gerta Sutherland of New York has a crew of men trenching and prospecting her holdings there... Healy and Obrien, of San Francisco, have a promising acerage in this section and just as soon as weather will permit will commence the development of their property.
-Reese River Reveille

There was still a little activity even after its "heyday," but it doesn't appear that it was ever exactly a rip-snortin' mining camp.

1908 July 13
At Bonita the Richardson group, which is three miles south of Ullaine [sic], has two and one-half feet of ore in a tunnel, assaying from $32 to $40.

First mention of another nearby camp. The article mentions "Elaine," which you will see is spelled in various ways in upcoming articles. Could it be the site where the Ward Mine is?

The new mining camp of Elaine, 35 miles southwest of Austin, is receiving the attention of Goldfield wealth seekers, says the Goldfield Tribune. It is in what is known as the Reese River country and within a few miles of Bonnita. On a claim called the Ward, which is owned by John T. Riley, John Bowler, Edward Powers, and William Fletcher, all of Goldfield, assays on picked pieces of the quartz are being obtained that run as high as $3,000. On another location called the Florence, there is also a new strike and assays have been obtained that run as high as $700. Riley, who has been here for the past few days, said, "I have been all over the camp, and ore that pans and assays can be found in every direction. There are prpobably 300 people int he camp, and two townsites have been laid out." --Reveille
1907 August 9 , Daily Nevada State Journal

Some more location clues. Several newspaper accounts mention Bonita's location in the Emma Bowler mining district. He was thirty-eight years old in the 1910 census, living most likely at the Bowler Ranch (now on the Yomba Indian Reservation south of the O'Toole Ranch) with his wife, two daughters Clara and Gladys, and his mother Ellen, and three ranch hands, John M Shirk, Charles M Marley, and Manuel Noya. By 1930 Gladys was listed as a public school teacher living in the Smokey Valley census precinct, John and Emma still lived at the ranch. By 1940, both Glydys and John and Emma had moved to Fallon, Nevada. John died September 12, 1950; Emma passed away October 24, 1958, and Gladys died October 27, 2002. All are interred at the cemetary in Fallon.

1908 September 19
Bob Roberts one the early and lucky locators
There are few of the younger gold camps making a better showing than is the new camp of Bonita at present. Development work is going steadily ahead and each day's work is proving more conclusively the mineral worth of the Emma Bowler district. Among the lucky ones is Bob Roberts of Arcata, California. In Riley Canyon is has a shift of men at work on two claims that give promise of developing into great properties. To the south of Riley canyon about three miles, Mr. Roberts has other properties that with development promise to furnish their quote in the production of the yellow metal. These properties are in what is locally known as Barrett canyon, one of the richest sections of the Bonita district.
-Reese River Reveille

1908 November 7
Branch H. Smith candidate for assemblyman on the democratic ticket, who has been on a compainging trip to Goldike, Berlin, Lodi, Bonita, Silver Bow, Belleheln, Golden Arrow and other camps, returned home yesterday.
"At Bonita, which is located in the Emma Bowler mining district, I found conditions most gratifying. The mineral belt, as thus far proved, extends from Riley canyon on the north to Deep canyon on the south, a distance of about five miles, and later discoveries show that this camp is on a direct line and a continuation of the Berlin and ione mineral belt. ... the ledge on the Bonita Queen is twenty four feet... north of the Queen lies the Ward and Motley group. Bonita is an ideal camp for milling purposes as thre is plenty of water and timber for fuel."

Where is "Ullaine?" The 1910 census lists "Eullaine Camp" in the same census district [#53] at "Ione Village" and "Reese River Road," with its only inhabitants being the James Ward Family and a George Brownlee. The USGS's Geographic Names Information System has no listing for either spelling. It gets a brief mention in the news of the day but no clue to its location.

1908 October 3
On the out side, Park Canyon is coming to the front for state wide notoriety, together with the mines of Washington Canyon and Ullaine.
-Reese River Reveille

By 1912, Bonita was probably deserted and on its way to being forgotten.

1912 September 1
A few miles north of Ione, near the old camp of Bonita, other cinabar territory is being opened up, and from the developments so far made it is more than probable that in time to come and with a little more development, more than one piece of ground can be put into the producing class.
-Nevada State Journal

Now, the problem with Bonita is that the canyon in which it supposedly sits is about five miles from the road that runs from Ione to Austin.

From 2 to 3 miles southeast if Ione on the west side of the Shoshone range are the quicksilver properties of the Mercury and the Shoshone mining companies These were visited by the writer in 1910 and a paper is in preparation describing them The deposits lie in Shamrock and Sheep canyons respectively which are the first two canyons on the west side of the range immediately south of Ione canyon a low depression in the range through which passes the stage road from Austin and the Reese river valley near its head to Ione and the Ione Valley lying between the Shoshone and Paradise ranges to the West The mountain ranges and valleys lie almost due north and south
- Mining Science July 4, 1912

To road from Ione runs directly east through Ione Canyon and exits from the valley and turns north, past Bonita Canyon, where Bonita reportedly sits over five and a half miles from the main road. There is and-- as far as I can tell-- never was-- a road that runs through from the east side of the Shoshone range through Bonita Canyon, so one would have to detour off the main road to get to it.

However, a 1963 Nevada D.O.T. map of Nye County places Bonita right smack dab on the main road, actually well south of Bonita Canyon, at approximately 39.00754 N 117.46545 W. There is also a USGS benchmark there, placed in 1954 and named "Bonita." It's not far from another stage stop on the Ione-Austin stage road- Glen Hamilton- itself a mystery as to exact location. There is probably not a reason for another station to be so close- a little over three miles away.

Bonita managed to get itself set up for a post office in August of 1907 with a Mr. Snyder named as Postmaster, but it was quickly rescinded by March of 1908. That means it never had a post office. The beautiful and talented Jenny Lynch, Historian and Corporate Information Services Manager for the United States Postal Service, said in personal correspondence, "Hi! According to the “Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832 - September 30, 1971,” the order establishing the Bonita Post Office was rescinded on March 19, 1908 (see excerpt from record below). This means that the Bonita Post Office did not operate. ...Rescinded” means the order was abolished and never took effect. Historically, the official postal term for closing an active office was 'discontinue.'”

Now, the Post Office isn't going to just start putting post offices any old which place. It needs to know exactly where they are before they even consider it. That's why they have Site Location Reports of Post Offices, 1837–1950 available to look at. It's all on microfilm, and the library hasn't yet responded to our requests to look at it.

So,our opinionated guess- it was a short-lived mining camp in Bonita Canyon. Or, there were two Bonitas which existed at totally different times. The first was a stage stop on the road, and the second was a mining camp in the canyon.


August 2, 1907 - Rescinded March 19, 1908


This is a beautiful spot for a ghost town, mining camp or or what have you. But a cursory examination of where we think it was revealed two pieces of wood-- and that's it. Nice place to visit though. We've included some stuff from nearby canyons just so you have some photos to look at.

Photographs | Return to Previous Document | HOME