What's Out There?

Honoring Native Land

Rock shelters in Central Nevada show archaeological evidence for ancestral Newe seasonal occupation for more than 7,000 years. In 1863 the Treaty of Ruby Valley formally recognized most of Nevada as the Newe (Western Shoshone) Territory. The treaty asked for safe passage through the Newe Territory for US citizens, protection for the Pony Express, and permit mining for gold on their land and future construction of railroads. A century later in 1962, the Newe people filed to reclaim their land, which had never been relinquished or ceded to the United States or to the Euro-American settlers.  The early 20th century antropologist, Julian Steward documented Newe families living in the Hot Creek and Tybo locations and described the lifeways and resources they used.  By this time, however, their traditional hunting and gathering economy had been permanently disrupted by EuroAmerican settlers, squatters, livestock, and resource extraction.  Despite these disruptions, the Newe continued to follow their traditions and attend gatherings of other Newe People in places like Duckwater, Kawich, and Biabahuna (Little Smoky Valley). Fandango is still part of the Newe contested traditional lands. For more information about the Newe people in the Fandango area, see Fandango; Origin of a Placename in the Additional Resources tab on the left side of this page.    



Jedediah Smith passed through Hot Creek Range on June 10th, 1827 where he documented interactions with Newe people. Most of the later Euro-American explorers followed and documented routes further north of Smith's 1827 crossing. The Tybo Mining district was organized in 1870 and the smelting of ore required an insatiable appetite for wood and charcoal. The demand for wood led to the numerous charcoal kilns in the area, including three sets along South Six-mile Canyon and on set in Four-mile Canyon. Each set of kilns is estimated to have consumed 4,000 acres of trees over their short life-spans. The rapacious destruction of the pinyon forests the Newe people depended upon most have be unimaginable to these indigenous people.

EuroAmerican miners first took interest in Fandango as a source of charocal, as outlined above. The earliest documented mining within the future Wilderness Study Area was along a tributary of North Sixmile Canyon where the Lead Pipe Mine produced a little high-grade lead ore during World War I (circa 1917). These deposits were small and discontinuous. Fandango never really saw much mineral production or potential. Livestock grazers invaded the Fandango area in the late 19th century competing with many others for forage. This conflict between cattle and sheep operations was documented the December 25, 1897 Eureka Weekley Sentinal: 135,000 sheep are moving through FishCreek Valley heading for Sand Springs, Hot Creek, Railroad, and Stone Cabin Valleys. The “greater part of these sheep are owed by the sheepmen of southern Idaho and Elko county… [they are] eating the substance of [Nye] county, their owners paying precious little into the commonwealth.” For information about the Conservation History of this area, see the Morey Peak webpage Additional Resources tab. 


Natural History

The southern portion of Fandango shares the same middle Tertiary silicic volcanic rocks composed from ash-flow tuff with the neighboring Morey Peak area. The northern part of the Fandango Wilderness Study Area contains a complexly faulted sequence of Paleozoic and lower Mesozoic continental margin deposits, shallow water sedimentary rocks and small exposures of island arc sedimentary rocks of the Woodruff Formation that have been thrust eastward over the shallow water rocks. Most of the sedimentary rocks are carbonate rocks, with minor quartzite, calcareous shale, siliceous shale, and siltstone. The Lead Pipe Mine dug adits into the slightly silicified carbonate rock associated with the volcanic intrusions into these sedimentary rocks. 

Similar to Morey Peak, he structural geology of Fandango is complex due to several types and periods of faulting both prior to and following middle Tertiary volcanism, and also due to the presence of the western and northern margins of two nested cauldrons in the Morey Peak and Fandango study areas. The cauldron margins are marked by high-angle fault contacts between pre-Tertiary rocks and Tertiary volcanic rocks, numerous dikes and small intrusions of rhyolitic to andesitic composition, and the abrupt termination of the tuff of Williams Ridge and Morey Peak. Numerous high-angle faults that generally trend north to northeast or east-west cut the thrust faults and affect both pre-Tertiary and Tertiary rocks. Many of the north- to northeast-trending faults are probably Basin and Range structures formed during late Cenozoic uplift of the Hot Creek Range.


Fandango supports provides important mule deer summer range, habitat for wandering elk, and a substantial number of mountain lions. Bobcats, coyotes, and badger may be seen occasionally throughout this unit.  The lowlands in the western portion the area provide habitat for pronghorn. The steep cliffs and deep canyons provide thermals, up-drafts, and nesting sights for a multitude raptors.

Pinyon and juniper form the most abundant trees of Fandango.  South and southwest facing upper elevation are characterized by dense growth of mountain mahogany.  Aspen appear in cooler canyons and an extensive riparian community follows South Sixmile Creek along the eastern boundary adjacent to the Morey Peak area. Sagebrush forms the dominate understory throughout the area with subalpine vegetation appearing in the meadows of the highest elevations. Springs and seeps throughout the area form small, dispersed riparian area and upper elevation, north and east facing slopes support diverse mountain brush communities.