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History of Beaver Dam State Park

Beaver Dam was formed from more than 10 million years of volcanic activity and erosion. Due to its lush environment, Native Americans inhabited the area, living off fish and beaver from the perennial stream. During the gold rush of 1849, a group of emigrants happened upon the area looking for a shortcut to the goldfields of California. Rather than a shortcut, what they found was a beautiful valley with steep cliffs and nearly impassable canyons. Although no shortcut was found, stories and descriptions told by the California bound emigrants led to the permanent establishments of Beaver Dam and the town of Barclay. One group of these settlers, the Hamblin family, built a small house, blacksmith shop and one-room school house in the area. Portions of this original ranch can still be seen in the northern portion of the park near the confluence of the Headwaters Wash and the Pine Park Wash.

With its rugged beauty and clear fish-filled streams, Beaver Dam became a summer respite for the families that settled the area. In 1917 improvements were made to the access road approaching from the Utah border allowing for easier access to the park and also attracting the attention of the State of Nevada.

Civilian Conservation Corps at Beaver Dam in the mid 1930s

In 1935 Beaver Dam became one of Nevada’s first State Parks. Between 1934 and 1936 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) completed several projects in the park including campgrounds and picnic areas. Unfortunately, in the late 1930s, flooding destroyed many of these facilities. In 1961 an earthen dam was built deep in the Beaver Dam Canyon creating Schroeder Reservoir. Due to sedimentation fill, and a breach of the dam by a large flood event, the dam was demolished in 2009, leaving the Beaver Dam Wash to return to its natural pre-dam state. 

Cabin construction in the mid 1930s
Cabin construction in the mid 1930s

Today, Beaver Dam whispers of past adventures and hints at future explorations. A visitor to Beaver Dam can find abundant wildlife and a vast variety of flora. With hiking trails that lead to hidden gems and OHV routes that cross the rugged beauty of the area, there is no end to the exploring that can be done in Beaver Dam State Park.

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