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Leete (Eagle Salt Works), Nevada
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Nitro929
N 39° 44.440 W 119° 03.400
11S E 323774 N 4400996
Quick Description: From 1871 through 1915, this town housed the mills and employees of Eagle Salt Works.
Location: Nevada, United States
Date Posted: 9/12/2007 10:42:11 PM
Waymark Code: WM26KY
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Moose Mob
Views: 112

Long Description:
This was the town of Leete, a station stop on the Central Pacific Overland Route. The town was founded by, and named after Benjamin Franklin Leete.
Leete was born in Lockport, New York. He took up the study of civil engineering, and in that capacity was employed in connection with the construction of the New York Central Railroad. In 1858, he took passsage for California and arrived at San Francisco on the first of August. The railroad from Folsom to Maysville was then being built, and for some time he was employed as an engineer in its construction.
During this same time, Theodore Judah was pushing his plan for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. I have been unable to document exactly how or when it happened, but Judah and Leete both got involved with the Transcontinental railroad some time around 1859-60, and they became close friends. Leete was a member of Judah's crew that surveyed the railroad route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and he was in attendance with Judah at his first meeting with Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker, the men who were to carry out the building of the railroad.
In 1869, the same year the Transcontinental railroad was completed, Leete discovered a series of salt springs along the western edge of the Hot Springs mountains. He recognized that salt was a needed mineral in the reduction of Comstock Lode silver ore, which was in high demand at that time. He spent the next three years perfecting his salt manufacturing apparatus. The evaporators are located approximately 2 miles south east of the townsite, across the alkali flat.
In 1871, Leete's Eagle Salt Works began furnishing salt to area consumers. The salt works was comprised of approximately 175 acres of vats, and on hot days, the vats could produce 10 tons of salt per day per acre. In his first year he furnished about 3,000 tons of salt. The salt production peaked between 1879-1884, when Leete shipped 334,000 tons of salt.
Leete shipped his salt via the Central Pacific (later the Southern Pacific) railroad, as the CP operated near his salt works. However, in 1903, the Central Pacific relocated its mainline between Wadsworth and Lovelock in favor of a route to the south that goes through Fernley and Hazen to avoid the grade over White Plains Hill. The new location left Leete without a railroad to ship his salt. In August of 1902, Leete negotiated with the CP that when they relocated and removed the tracks, that they leave every other tie in place from Leete to just east of Wadsworth. Leete proposed to build a light railroad using the old CP grade to a connection with the CP at Luva, 2 miles east of Fernley.
On February 16, 1903, the Eagle Salt Works Railroad was created. Leete built about a mile of track from Luva to Old Thisbe. From Thisbe, his railroad ran northeast to Leete along the original / abandoned route of the Central Pacific mainline. At Leete, he built a branch off the old CP grade that went two miles to his salt works (This branch is still clearly visible, beginning along the edge of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80, and curving off to the southeast, to the ruins of the old mill, and continuing across the flat). In June of 1903, the 14.5 mile line was completed.
Unfortunately, salt demand from the works was already in decline when the railroad opened. The first train to carry salt did not operate until March of 1906. From 1906 to 1910, the railroad had very little activity on the line. In 1910, the Southern Pacific, which loaded $23,535 to Leete for the railroad, acquired Leete's railroad and salt works due to Leete's default on the loan. Under the Southern Pacific, the railroad continued to see little traffic on the line, consisting of salt, coal & hay. The town continued to support a small population during this time, but was finally abandoned in 1915. The SP abandoned the railroad in March of 1916, and the track was removed in April of that same year.
The site is accessible only from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80. Park off the shoulder of the highway - there's plenty of room for the average vehicle. Use caution while exploring the site. There is a large open cistern filled with water just east of the old mill ruins. If you wish to view the cistern, approach with care and maintain a safe distance from its edge, keeping in mind that the lumber used in its construction is over 100 years old. Don't allow children or pets to wander unsupervised, and, as always, please respect the historical significance of the site.
Reason for Abandonment: Economic

Date Abandoned: 06/01/1915

Related Web Page: Not listed

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