The pattern of industry in the Valley had been pretty well set before the Mormon settlerscame, first, by its natural physical and climatic character, second, the needs of the mining regionson either side and third, the character and ambitions of the men who had preceded them inpioneering the development of its natural resources.
The stage and freight route through the Valley between the mining towns of Hamilton andPioche had been established by the late 1860's and ranching as an industry had its beginning fromthen on into the 1870's. J. R. Withington, said to be the only millionaire in eastern Nevada, had awide range of interests which included ranching in White River Valley where he lived for a timeon the Home Ranch that eventually became Lund. He was said to have controlled most of thewater and considerable land in the region and according to Effie Read it is probable he ownedboth the Tom Plane and Mattics ranches and these men merely acted as foremen.
Then, as later, hay, grain and potatoes were the important crops. Grain grew so well in theValley that in 1881, J. R. Withington had a flour mill built below the Home Ranch spring usingthe down hill flow of the water for power. The ranches he controlled raised fifty tons of wheat that year as grist for the mill. Proof that raising hay was an early industry is illustrated by theoften told story of the alfalfa field that was converted into a town. And potatoes was probably the basic staple food crop freighted to the mining districts before and after the settlers came.
Dairying also began in the 1870's. Part of an item in the Pioche Daily Record for March 21,1873 said, "His (Tom Plane's) dairy is one of the most extensive and best regulated in the state."An excerpt from a history of Michael Riordan who came to Emigrant Springs in 1870 researched by Kate Adams says this, "After procuring the title to the land and getting settled, he decided tostart a small dairy. He went to Utah and bought some dairy cows which he drove back. He and his wife did the milking and made butter. The butter was churned in a large churn that lookedlike a cubical box two and a half feet in dimensions. They had someone haul the butter to Pioche and to Belmont which at that time was the Seat of Nye County."
One writer has said something like this -- "In a land where grass is abundant, people scarce and markets far away, the best way to make a living is to raise livestock." White River Valley in the nineteenth century fit this description and indeed in the latter part of the century someenterprising pioneers were running large herds of cattle in the Valley. One of these wasGovernor Jewett Adams who brought cattle into the area a number of times. The story is toldthat in 1882, the year he was elected Governor of Nevada, he drove five thousand head ofLonghorn cattle from Texas and put most of them in White River Valley. He, first in partnership with a man named Keating and later with William N. McGill was a dominant figure in the cattle industry in Nevada for half a century. Another well known cattle outfit in White Pine and Nye Counties was the 0.K. Reed outfit and with the suicide of J. R. Withington and the breakup of his empire, Nichols and Parsons acquired the White River ranches, presumably cattle and subsequently the church cattle that the federal government had confiscated.
So then, as now, these were the basic industries dependent on weather and economic factors as they affected other industries in the state particularly mining. History records 1880 to 1900 asa period of depression which most certainly was a significant factor in the settlement of White River Valley. The early Mormon settlers came with little but determination and I might addabove average intelligence and a variety of talents. Whatever the circumstances leading to its colonization it meant opportunity to these young people. A quote from the history of Orrin Snowfound in the cornerstone of the old church says, "The first settlers of Lund did not find the obstacles to contend with that many of our colonists find. When they reached here they found a great deal of land under cultivation, also stacks of hay, granaries well filled and other necessities that they could borrow of the company at a low rate of interest or pay for it in cash at theirconvenience." Thomas Judd confirms this in his diary when he speaks of measuring the grain and hay, checking over the machinery, delivering beef and selling grain in Ely in the month of his arrival April, 1898.