Schellbourne, in the foothills of the Schell Creek Range, was a Shoshone village site long before it began its more recent career in 1859. Captain James Simpson passed through the area, looking for a short route across the Great Basin. That same year an overland stage and mail station was built at Shellbourne. In 1860, the Pony Express company used the same facilities, and when the telegraph arrived in 1863, it passed over this same route.
During the rush to the Virginia City mines in 1859 and 1860, it became necessary for the army to send troops to this point to protect participants in the resulting western pilgrimage.
Silver ore was discovered in the mountains immediately to the east of Schellbourne in the early 1870s, and it became part of the Aurum Mining District in 1871. An active mining camp developed with a population of over 500 people. By 1885, the ore had been mostly depleted and the camp abandoned. The district and adjacent valley were then acquired by “Uncle Billy” Burke as a ranch. Schellbourne was subsequently operated as the headquarters for various ranches since that time.