Stillwater’s beginning predates Nevada’s advent to statehood by two years. Named for large pools of tranquil water nearby, the town originated as an overland stage station in 1862, was granted a post office in 1865, and became Churchill’s third county seat in 1868.
Farmers developed one of the state’s first irrigation systems to supply booming mining camps with produce. The community population peaked in 1880, and when the county seat was removed to Fallon in 1904, barely thirty residents remained.
The national wildlife refuge of 22,000 acres of wetland habitat and natural breeding and feeding grounds for waterfowl was created in 1948. The Stillwater Indian Reservation adjoins the reserve.
Although their community center has disappeared, the valley’s lush fields and abundant crops attest to the untiring efforts of Stillwater’s pioneer ranchers and their descendants who met the desert’s challenge with dedication and determination.