Navigation Menu  


Click to return to:

Elko Country Rose Garden Home Page Garden Plan Garden History Rose List Rose Names Links Poems Thanks to our Supporters Garden Diary Garden Map Garden Photos






(sometimes spelled Toana)

1868 - 1906

Elko County, Nevada


Toano was once a booming little railroad/shipping center.  It was created in 1868 by the Central Pacific railroad.  According to the "Guide Book to the Pacific Railroad, 1879" site, in 1879 Toano had 'a roundhouse with 14 stalls and an adjoining shed where two engines could be sheltered. The town had a population of about 250.'


 The NVGHOSTTOWNS.COM site, states the town prospered up until 1880, then as trade routes changed the town fell into decline.  The population of Toano in 1895 was 65.  In 1906, the town finally died.  The few remaining die-hard residents moved to Cobre, a newer railroad town, about a mile east of Toano. 


All that remains of Toano now are some rock foundations, scattered artifacts, mostly broken glass bottles, and a small cemetery on the hill.  It also appears that a small quarry, just west of the town site, is where the stone building materials were mined and shaped for the town's main buildings.



USGS Topographic Map of Toano (1991)



What's in a name ...

As I read the origins of railroad town names in Nevada.  I find mostly that the origin is romantically stated to be Shoshone or other Indian names for some feature of or near the town.  For example, the neighboring town of Montello is said to have originated from the Indian word meaning  "rest".   Such is the case of Toano.  The name is generally accepted to be the Shoshone Indian word "for black topped or black coated, which the nearby mountains appeared to be."  But believe me the railroad wasn't given to the romance of the Indians.  They brought their culture and names with them.  Montello and Toano are actually towns in Italy.  I believe these new railroad towns were most likely named for either people who had these family names or possibly for the  Italian towns themselves.



Town site of Toano - looking northwest.  The Toano cemetery is on the hill in the distance.  The quarry where the town's building blocks were most likely obtained is on the left center of the photo.
020518toana_8.JPG (282052 bytes)
020518toana_11.JPG (282693 bytes)
 The NVGHOSTTOWNS.COM site shows this as the foundation of the Cazier Hotel.
020518toana_4.JPG (344120 bytes)
020518toana_3.JPG (416940 bytes)
020518toana_7.JPG (300584 bytes)



Some artifacts we found at the town site.  Chisel, railroad spike, square nails, trowel, thick glass bottle, shovel, pan and lids.  I left these things at the town site for others to enjoy.  It would be nice if you could too.
020518shovel_2g.JPG (479629 bytes)
just some other things we saw laying around
020518bottle_1.JPG (483582 bytes)
020518bottle_3.JPG (499078 bytes)
020518bottle_4.JPG (469048 bytes)
020518bottle_5.JPG (493298 bytes)
020518bowl.JPG (489831 bytes)
020518jug.JPG (492181 bytes)


Vertical control marker at town site.
020518verticalmarker.JPG (431502 bytes)


Rock quarry just west of town.  It looks to be a vitric tuff (volcanic ash-fall) unit.  In the quarry you can see where the stones were mined.  They are the same stones that were used in the construction of some of the town's main buildings.
020518quarry_3.JPG (285665 bytes)
020518quarry_2.JPG (341274 bytes)




~ Correspondence about Toano ~


Dan Turner:

I'm glad you found the James E Wood letter (1869) of interest.  You have my permission to include it in your website, along with my e-mail address.  Perhaps by some chance someone may know something of him, and what happened to him.    In the wake of the conditions in the South following the Civil War, many dispirited Confederate soldiers went "west," to try to start a new life.   James, unmarried, was approximately 27 years old when the letter was written, and could have lived many more years.   My grandfather also saved letters from James' sisters, Sarah (Sallie) Wood Dalrymple and Martha (Mattie) Wood Risinger, who lived in central Alabama (James' original home), and in these letters they refer to "brother James,"  but offer no clues as to what finally happened to him. 

When the letter is included in the website, I'd appreciate your e-mailing me,  so that I can see how it looks in the context of the other Toano material.      

Best wishes, Robert E. Parrott  
Robert E. Parrott,
Thank you for sharing this letter with me.  It has wonderful historical significance as James E. Wood was cutting ties for the first transcontinental railroad.  The date of June 7, 1869 is just one month (May 10, 1869) after the golden spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah
James may have attended the ceremony as it was only about 100 miles east from Toano.
As I recall, there was a great purging of workers after the rails were connected.  It would be interesting to know if James remained working with one of the section gangs, stayed around in Nevada working at one of the newly discovered gold mines or did indeed moved on to another life in California. 
I would like permission to add the letter to the Toano page with your commentary and e-mail address so anyone knowing more of Mr. Wood could get in touch with you.  Thank you again.  Dan Turner
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 7:46 PM
Subject: Re: letter from Toano, Nevada Territory

Here's the text of the letter from James E Wood to his first cousin, my grandfather, John Robert Parrott.    {The envelope is marked with a "PAID   Wells, Fargo & Co: Over our California and Coast Routes," and is addressed to "John R. Parrott, Many, Pa. Sabine, Parish, La."}
              "Toano Novado Teritory  June th 7/1869
                      John R. Parrott
                                      Dear Cosin
                I seat to drop you a few lines
                To let you no that I am
                Well at presont hopeing that
                These few lines may finde you
                And family enjoying the same
                Good blesin    John I am along
                Wayse from you at this time
                I am in the Woods choping
                Wood at 4 Dollars per
                Cord   I spect to Stay heare
                Tel fall and then I am
                Going West to California
                And I Will Come and
                See you as soon as I can
                John I would Wright more
                But I have not heard
                From you since 1867
                So rite Sean and
                Direct to me at Toano
                C.P.R.R. State of novado
                In ceare of Wells fargo
                Wright soon and gave
                Me all of the news    So
                Nothing more   So I remainde
                      Your Cosin
                                   James E. Wood"    

We know nothing more of James E. Wood following this letter. He was a Confederate veteran, born ca 1842.   This was his last letter in a series of letters as he worked in various places for the C.P.R.R.     His cousin, John Robert Parrott (1839-1918), Sabine Parish {Zwolle}, Louisiana, a Confederate veteran, planter, bank president, and Parish School Board president saved many letters he received in a flat black trunk which he kept under his bed.  His plantation house burned in 1915, but they managed to save the black trunk with the letters in it, by taking it out of a window.   I inherited the letters (61 in all) in the 1960s. 

Best wishes, Robert E. Parrott

Robert E. Parrott,
What an interesting e-mail.  Thank you.  I would love a copy of the letter.  With you permission and if applicable I would add it to the Toano page.  I would also submit the copy you send to the Northeast Nevada Museum for their file on Toano.  The next trip down to the museum I will see if I can locate some information on James E. Wood.  I wish you the best.  Dan Turner
cc:  Claudia Wines, Director NENM
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 9:02 AM
Subject: letter from Toano, Nevada Territory

I have enjoyed reading and studying your website on Toano, Nevada, particularly because in a saved collection of old letters belonging to my grandfather, John Robert Parrott (1839-1918), of Sabine Parish, Louisiana, is a letter written from Toano (Nevada Territory), dated June 7, 1869, by his first cousin, James E. Wood.  In other letters from James E. Wood (including one from Fort Laramie, in 1867) he identified himself as working for the Central Pacific Railroad as a woodcutter -- felling trees to make railroad cross ties.  He had gone "west" from Alabama and Louisiana after the end of the Civil War.   How long James E. Wood (formerly a Confederate soldier) remained in Toano I do not know, and in fact nothing is known of his further history, after Toano.  I venture the guess that it's possible he died in Toano, and was buried in the cemetery there -- but this is a wild conjecture only.  He probably moved on somewhere else, with the railroad.   This letter was the last in the collection from him.

I still have the "Wood Letters,"  or the "letters from the West," as my family referred to them.   The one from Toano is in good condition.  Its original Wells Fargo envelope remains.  If you would like to have a copy of the letter for your files, concerning Toano, I will be glad to send you a copy.   

Best wishes,  Robert E. Parrott





The following mining districts are tributary to this place and transact the most of their business here:

Silver Zone, distant 20 miles
Dolly Varden, 55 miles
Cherry Creek, 100 miles
Egan Canon, 105 miles
Shellburn, 110 miles
Mineral City, 130 miles
Ward, 140 miles

They are all south of the railroad, and connected with Toano by a good wagon road. Stages run regularly to Cherry Creek.




The following newspaper articles about Toano were graciously provided by Judy Swett.

 Daily Nevada State Journal, January 26, 1882, THE ATTEMPTED TRAIN ROBBERY, Description of the Attack by Wells Fargo's Express Manager

Reno Evening Gazette, November 12, 1883, TOANO EXCITED, Silver Discoveries Near Station

Reno Evening Gazette, November 12, 1883, The Self-Regulating Hazen Wind-Mill

Reno Evening Gazette, March 4, 1901, Barney Cosgrove Run Over by Train No. 5 at Toano, Mr. Cosgrove was one of the first train robbers of the Central Pacific Railroad near Verdi

The Spring, 1975 Quarterly of The Northeastern Nevada Historical Society, available at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, has an excellent vignette on this train robbery, on November 6, 1870, and another train robbery of the same train on November 10, 1870 near Peoquop, a few miles west of Toano. 

Judy Swett also sent me an article about Barney J. Cosgrove written by  Howard Hickson.  If it is the same person ... 





Elko, Nevada Time-Line


This is an excellent link


Toano Elko County Nevada Ghost Towns



Fiction or Fact? Fighting between Irish and Chinese ...

1870 Nevada Gay Census Index


Souvenir of the Transcontinental Excursion of Railroad Agents, ...

LEWIS-CAZIER--at Toano, Nevada, January 1, 1890 married:  John G. Lewis and Miss Margaret Ann Cazier.

"Uncle" John Ragsdale hauled freight between Cobre "Toano" and Mineral City and mined in the area.

Aurum (Silver Canyon) (Doughberg)

Across the Plains (7)

1870:  Toano-Boise Road built, linking the Boise, Idaho, mines with the transcontinental railroad at Toano (Elko).


Elko Military Draft A - F

Cazier, Edward C. 8 Nov 1893 W Toano NV

Cazier, John I. 28 Feb 1890 W Toano NV


Elko Military Draft G - L

Goble, Albert W. 7 Oct 1887 W Toano NV

Hardy, Earl Leroy 21 May 1895 W Toano NV

Johnson, Benjamin Harrison 29 Jun 1894 W Toano NV

Johnson, Sheridan Blair 15 May 1887 W Toano NV

Elko Military Draft M - S

Elko Military Draft T - Z



Population: 63

Wells Facts & Figures

Central Pacific Railroad - Photo History Museum

Ely, Nevada: A Visitor's Guide

Nevada Northern Railroad

NNRy History


Nevada Northern Railroad

ASLRRA - Whats In The News - Views And News

Nevada Northern Black & White Photos - Page Four

Cherry Creek NV







Additional Information:  Northeastern Nevada Museum



 If you know or would like to add anything about this page, please let me know

© 2002 - Elko Rose Garden Association

Recent Photos by Dan Turner 5/19/02