About Us

In 1859, Captain J.H. Simpson explored the valley as an alternative route to the west coast. His account provides a first-hand glimpse of the area at that time. Simpson notes: “Large numbers of Sho-sho-nees winter in Ruby Valley, on account of its being warmer than the other valleys around. One of the mail party represents that as many as 1500 must have staid here last winter. At present time they are scattered, for purposes of hunting.”

Historic markers identify the Hastings Cutoff Trail, which passes through the refuge and continues west by way of Overland Pass; the same route followed by the ill-fated Donner Party.

Ruby Valley was an important stop on the East-West Pony Express route. The log building that served as the Pony Express Station now stands at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, Nevada. Ruby Valley was also the home station for the Overland Mail Route and from 1862 to 1869 housed the Fort Ruby military post, constructed to protect the Overland Mail route from Paiute Indian raiders.

In 1880, Pennsylvanian Jacob Bressman, his daughter Deby, and Deby's husband, Lew Benson, sold their freight hauling business in nearby Eureka County. They bought cattle, built a cabin, and settled in Ruby Valley. Their cabin and Jacob's grave site, located on the refuge 1.5 miles north of headquarters, have been preserved and stand as a tribute to these early pioneers.

  • MAPS

Relict Dace

Relict Dace, the only native species of fish at Ruby Lake, has reduced and hybridized populations due to introduction of several non-native species. A project is underway to preserve the biological integrity of the Relict Dace.