History

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St. Thomas

Ghost town tells a tale of resurrection and fortitude. BY MICHELLE SINAGRA St. Thomas seems an unlikely name for a Nevada ghost town. It conjures up Caribbean fantasies of powdered sugar beaches, crystalline waters teaming with marine life, and warm balmy breezes. But this St. Thomas lies in the harshness of the Mojave Desert and […]
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100 Years of Candy Dance

For 100 years, streetlights have illuminated Genoa—Nevada’s oldest settlement—thanks to a group of dedicated townsfolk. In 1919, Lillian Virgin Finnegan and her aunt Jane Raycraft Campbell encouraged the 200 or so townspeople to hold a dance in what is now the Genoa Town Hall to raise funds for streetlights. Young ladies passed trays of free homemade candy, and after the dance, a midnight supper was served at the Raycraft Hotel. Today, on the last full weekend of September, Genoans make and sell candy for the two-day Candy Dance Arts and Crafts Faire, which draws between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors to the town, population around 900.
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Historic Fourth Ward School Museum

“It’s not just a building full of old school desks.” Lara Mather is ready to make her point. As executive director of the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City, her excitement about sharing what is really inside the 143-year-old building that sits at the south end of town is palpable.
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Nevada’s Outlaws

Part 2: More tales of the dastardly desperados that roamed the Silver State. BY RON SOODALTER As described in part one of Nevada’s Outlaws—published in the July/August 2017 issue—Nevada was every bit as wild as such legendary Western Gomorrahs as Deadwood, Tombstone, and Dodge City. The lure of gold and silver and the prospect of […]
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Nevada’s Only National Memorial

On Nov. 18, 1955, Las Vegans awoke to a fire near the very top of Mt. Charleston where there was not a scrap of wood to burn. “Flame, just like there was a fire,” Henderson resident Lavern Hanks recalls. Her husband who worked for KLAS-TV tried to investigate. But men with rifles blocked the road to Kyle Canyon. So, he turned around and went home.
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Fantastical Fallacies of the Notorious ‘Mangler’

Tall tales in journalism were relatively common on The Comstock and surrounding regions during the late 1800s. Because a lull in readership was becoming a worry at the “Daily Appeal,” Sam Davis did as any self-respecting editor would: he conjured up a fictitious newspaper and lied to his readers, and they ate it up. Everyone loves a juicy story, and Davis painted the “Mangler” and its editor as the juiciest.
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Langston Hughes Sought Solitude in Reno

When Langston Hughes caught the 5:55 a.m. train from Truckee, California, to Reno in September 1934, he was 10 years into a career that would be marked by greatness and controversy. Already a successful poet, novelist, and journalist at the age of 32, Hughes was widely regarded as the unofficial poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance, which in the 1920s ushered in a prolific and important time for African-American authors, artists, and musicians.
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The Man Howard Hughes Left Behind

Melvin Dummar recounts his brush with fortune and loss.   BY SHAUN ASTOR “I grew up in Fallon. There was an airport, where the Churchill County rodeo grounds are at,” Melvin Dummar, now 74 years old, recalls on a warm evening as the sun falls behind the Resting Spring Mountain Range to the west of […]
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Hard Pressed to Survive

In a world of PayPal, Bitcoin, and all manner of electronic currency where paper money looks downright antiquated, coins are relegated to almost nuisance status. Heavy and destined for the ashtray or swear jar, coin as currency is a near relic. But since 1792, the U.S. has been minting coins for trade and commerce, and in all that time just eight towns were honored with the presence of a mint. Carson City is one of those towns, and the history of the Silver State's only mint is one that could make you rethink that change rattling around in your pocket.
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Elvis: The Vegas Years

Elvis Presley, who would have turned 60 in 1995, once reigned in Las Vegas. Some say he still does. BY MIKE WEATHERFORD | January/February 1995 But on opening night Elvis went down “like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party,” according to Newsweek.When Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut in 1956, the 21-year-old […]
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Railroad Collections

Nevada State Railroad Museum staff and volunteers   Rolling Through the Years How the Nevada State Railroad Museum Cares for its Collections. BY CHRISTOPHER DE WITT The Nevada State Railroad Museum (NSRM) in Carson City has a significant collection of Nevada-related restored and unrestored rolling stock—a term that refers to any vehicle used on a […]
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The Founding of Reno

  WHO IS THE FOUNDER OF RENO? History is evasive on the story of two men and a lucrative spot on the Truckee River. BY JACK HARPSTER On May 9, the city of Reno celebrates its sesquicentennial. The area came to life as Lake’s Crossing in 1861, when Myron Lake purchased a wooden bridge, rustic […]
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Snowshoe Thompson

SNOWSHOE THOMPSON – HERO OF THE SIERRAS Post and promises, legendary mail carrier always delivered. BY BRANDON WILDING “Most remarkable man I ever knew, that Snowshoe Thompson. He must be made of iron. Besides, he never thinks of himself, but he’d give his last breath for anyone else—even a total stranger.” —S.A. Kinsey, Genoa Postmaster […]
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Sam Davis

’30’ is ticked off  for Sam Davis Sagebrush School journalist penned Silver State history. BY CHIC DIFRANCIA On March 18, 1918, the “Car-son City Daily Appeal” carried a front-page obituary for its former publisher and editor, Samuel Post Davis. The headline read: “‘30’ Is Ticked Off For Sam Davis.” Now archaic, “30” at the time […]
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Shaping History at Donovan Mill

Tears of joy and sorrow have both been shed at the site of Donovan Mill in Silver City. The intense and unexpected changes that follow the boom and bust cycles of small Nevada mining towns have been the only constant. Pioneering new ideas and techniques were discovered and put into action here: a place rich with mining innovation, as well as with gold and silver. Originally the land was an idyllic part of the hunting and gathering territory of the Washoe Tribe. The possibility of wealth brought speculators and adventurers, eventually changing the landscape forever. The community, settled in 1859, was filled with people who proved themselves to be independent, resourceful, and self-motivated.
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The Rise and Fall of Reno’s Chinatown

The Sacramento-to-Reno section of the Central Pacific Railroad was completed in the spring of 1868 and the many Chinese laborers who had risked life and limb laying track over the Sierra Nevada received final payment and were left along the line to fend for themselves. Many settled in Reno, where they constructed flimsy bare- wood structures at the crossroads of Virginia and First streets along the banks of the Truckee River and attempted to put down roots in the community they now called home.