Battle Mountain's name derives from the mountain range to the southwest, where in 1850 angry California emigrants ambushed a band of Shoshones after the Indians had attacked their wagons.
As a town, it did not spring into existence until January 1870. In October 1868, the railroad established Reese River siding here, and made Argenta, five miles eastward, its principle station and point of departure for the busy mining camps to the southward.
Early in 1870, Argenta was moved bodily to this location, and Reese River siding was renamed Battle Mountain switch. Stage and freights roads north and south teemed with "mud wagon" stages and massive freight wagons, hauled by long jerk-line teams.
From 1880 to 1938, Battle Mountain was the operating headquarters for the Nevada Central Railroad, as well as the Battle Mountain and Lewis Railroad (1881-1890). The town's first copper boom developed in 1897, in the Galena (Battle Mountain) Range.