Ragtown (Leeteville) We Visited: March 7, 2003
Location 39 30.23'N, 118 55.01'W Soda Lake West Quad

Directions: From Fallon, west on Highway 50 for 9.4 miles

From Fallon: 9.4 miles

4WD or high clearance desired

What Was

In 1854, A. L. Kenyon established a trading post on his ranch at Ragtown, on the path of the California Trail. He dug a well 11 miles to the north, and is credited with saving the lives of many immigrants coming across the Forty Mile Desert. This would place the well, presumably, on or near the California trail somewhere near the Upsal Hogback. Temporary pole and canvas dwellings and stores were thrown up on this site in the late 1850's to take advantage of emigrant traffic. In 1861 Ragtown became a station on the Overland Mail and Stage route. Sam Clemens- better known as Mark Twain- passed through in that year. The rival Community of Centerville sprung up one and a half miles to the north, boasting of a hotel and a ranch.

May 5. Drove 6 miles to Ragtown. In the early days of the immigration across the plains this was quite a noted palce, had several hundred inhabitances- composed of thieves gamblers and traders, all assembled here to rob the poor immigrant. 'Tis here that the road leaves the desert so well known as the forty-mile desert, forty miles of sand ankle deep. From the sink of the Humboldt to Carson rivers waters and beautiful meadows. What a change in a few years! Then a perfect hurra town, now only one inhabitant-- Asa Kenyon,-- a regular Robinson Cruso, as fas as being monarch of all her surveys is concerned, and as ready to rob a pilgrim or 49'er party as any of his predeccessors were. Came up with the balance of our party; we now number 23.
May6. Remained in camp all day repairing saddles and getting ready for an early start tomorow. Elected J.B. Winters Captain, he being the largest cattle owner present. All hands jubilant that they are going to have a good time, but they don't know the country.-- hell is an ice house to some of the places they'll see before the week passes.
May 7.
Captain Winters may know what he is going to do, but d-nd if I believe he understands the cattle business, we will be off in 10 minutes.
May 8. Accomplished nothing.
May 9. worse than yesterday.
May 10. a repetition of the 9th.
May 11. camped at Hot Springs between .sink of Humboldt River and Truckee.
May 12. Only one horse left in camp-balance gone to hunt cold water. One man gone to hunt horses; boys beginning to find that the sun can shine hot . One small wagon for 22 men to crawl under to get in shade,.-no tents, no "willows-no sticks to stretch a blanket over, not even sage brush-hot, hotter, d hot , "Oh, Laz'rus, put your finger into the cup and let one drop of cold wvater fall upon my parched tongue, "-nar a drop; man returned with horses, reckon every man will sleep with rope in his hand.
-The Diary of Joe F. Triplett, 1862

In 1862 Ragtown experienced a flood, which disturned many of the emigrant graves. In 1863 Ragtown became an important stop on the road to the Reese River mining area, but with the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad its importance diminished somewhat. A post office finally opened in 1864, only to close in 1867. The 1880 census lists A.L. Kenyon as "stock raiser" and his wife Kate as "station keeper." It opened again in 1884 until 1887, after which mail was sent to the St. Clair post office. A farming community developed, and was known as Leeteville. Nevada Post Offices claims that Leeteville post office was in operation from 1895 until 1907, after which the mail went to Hazen.

We won't even go into the old story that Ragtown got its name from all the clothes drying on the bushes. Everyone has heard it before. Suffice to say, after crossing the forty mile desert and almost dying of thirst, Ragtown looked mighty fine in them there days.

From Salt Wells, Nevada.— A correspondent of the Union writing from Salt Wells, Nevada, October 9th, gives this local intelligence :

Old Rag Town, on the Carson river, is picking up finely. Duffy of Virginia owns the Soda Lake within two miles of that, place and is running teams and shipping large quantities of soda, Lewis & Troop of California have erected borax works at Rag Town and are now manufacturing borax. Lewis is conducting the affairs of the manufacture and is making a grand success. His works are limited, but he has made two shipments and will make another in a few days. He told me a few days ago that he would be able to double his works in a few weeks from the proceeds of two months' labor. He is just in receipt of a large number of borax boxes from California, and has commenced filling them. He has a force of men now collecting the material from the marsh, and is doing most of the manufacturing himself. It is said that Lewis will do well in his undertaking, as it is thought he understands his business and is working a very rich material and is interested in an inexhaustible mine, one that collects upon the surface and is easily gathered, and says he has no tunnel to run, no shaft to sink or ledge to hunt, but has everything in sight.
- 1871 October 16 Sacramento Daily Union

Post Office: May 1864 - May 1867; May 1884 - Apr 1887; Jan 1895 - Jun 1907
Newspaper: None

What is

Ragtown today is an old bar and a monument, basically. If you take the time to wander around the area (keeping in mind that Ragtown is on the busy and newly-widened U.S. Highway 50, and that much of the area is private property) you can find all sorts of interesting old buildings and sites. But nothing remains of old Ragtown.

Ragtown Station, date unknown
(photo courtesy Churchill County Museum)
The monument everyone is familiar with. I wonder if the person who owned these wheels ever thought they'd be on permanent display.
Call it a hunch; call it a special sixth sense; call it the intuition of a semi-professional desert explorer, hardened by years to breathing alkalai dust-- but I don't think this is the original Ragtown Station.
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