HOWARD HICKSON'S HISTORIES
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Cleaning Up Carlin
Carlin, Nevada - June 1869

In December 1868, Central Pacific Railroad construction workers laid rails into a northeast Nevada meadow next to the Humboldt River. CPRR officials selected the place as the eastern end of the Humboldt Division and named the town, Carlin.

Brigadier General William Passmore Carlin, USA, was the communityís namesake. He was born in Rich Woods, Greene County, Illinois on November 24, 1829. Graduating in 1846 from the U.S. Military Academy, he served on the western frontier until the Civil War. One of his posts was Camp Floyd, Utah, about twenty-five miles south of Salt Lake City where he participated in an expedition against the Mormons. Carlinís first journey into what would later be Nevada (Utah Territory at the time) was taking troops from Camp Floyd to Benecia, California. He served admirably during the Civil War fighting in Arkansas, Perryville, Knob Gap, Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Bentonville, Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Buzzardís Roost, and the capture of Atlanta. After the war General Carlin served in several positions until his retirement in May 1893 when he settled in Montana dying four months later.  CPRR track layers didnít stay long in the new town. They continued east toward Elko and to Promontory, Utah Territory to meet the Union Pacific Railroad in May 1869, to complete the first transcontinental railroad in the nation. 


A roundhouse and railroad car shops were built. Stores and homes grew from the sagebrush and streets were laid out. Townspeople were collecting money to build a toll bridge across the Humboldt. There was even talk of building a school house, bringing in a teacher, and churches coming to town. Civilization was fast coming to the place. 

A dance was planned to celebrate. The upper crust of the community turned out in their finest and most fashionable clothes. It was a grand party. Then the fertilizer hit the fan. Someone saw that the red-light district ladies were there. That was a no, no. One of the merchants took it upon himself to inform the girls that they and their companions had not been invited and would have to leave. The ladies of the night and their men friends left in a huff. The dance continued - it was a success! 

But the incident did not die that evening. The next day, the merchant was lured into an empty building and was unmercifully beaten by friends of the prostitutes. Then, the attackers had the audacity to tack up notices around town for the businessman to leave town or be shot. Thatís pretty blatant, so much so that the other people in Carlin were furious. An angry vigilante committee was formed and their actions were thorough - they pounded on doors and smashed windows. The vigilantes rounded up all the hurdy gurdy gals and those associated with them. A large wagon had been bought and the undesirables and their belongings were loaded, pointed in the direction of White Pine and sent on their way with a warning to never return. 

Carlin citizens had gotten rid of their dregs of society. Civilization had arrived in the little six months old town on the banks of Humboldt. 

Sources: Pioneer Nevada, Volume Two, published by Harolds Club, Reno, 1956; and Nevadaís Northeast Frontier, Edna Patterson, Louise Ulph Beebe, and Victor Goodwin, 1969.

©Copyright 2004 by Howard Hickson.

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