Situated between Black Rock Desert on the east, and Smoke Creek Desert on the west, the townsite of Gerlach lies in country long occupied by prehistoric man.

John C. Frémont traveled through Northern Paiute lands when he camped here in 1843 and named “Boiling Springs” ¼ mile north of town.

This was also emigrant country; the noble road left the Applegate-Lassen tail at Black Springs, went past this site, and southwestward through Smoke Creek Desert toward Susanville.

The town was established when the Western Pacific Railroad was constructed in Nevada 1905-1909.