Reno Tahoe Blog

What's Happening Now

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

‘Fast and Furious’ car at the National Automobile Museum in Reno

Honda S2000Do you love cars and the movies that feature them? Then Movie Night at the National Automobile Museum might get your motor running.

This hot-pink custom Honda S2000 with a Veilside bodykit is a big hit in the Masterpiece Exhibit of Movie Cars: Cinematic Stars on Wheels at the museum in downtown Reno. See the car and the film “2 Fast 2 Furious,” in which it’s featured during Movie Night at the Museum, Thursday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 and includes all exhibits and the film which starts at 7 p.m. The film is the second in the series of adrenaline-fueled thrill ride movies packed with car races. Parking is free in the museum lot on the corner of Mill and Lake streets (map).

For more information visit or call 775-333-9300.

By water or land, history is alive in Lake Tahoe

tbirdlodgeaerialA new kayak tour is bringing Tahoe’s rich history and boundless recreational opportunities together on the North Shore.

Tahoe Adventure Company introduced a kayak tour that has groups launching at Sand Harbor State Park (in Incline Village), with a stop at Thunderbird Lodge, to enjoy a walking tour of the 1930s estate and learn the story of George Whittell, the eccentric man who built it, followed by a fantastic deli spread lunch on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

If you’d rather hoof it, try the Tahoe City guided walking tour put on by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. Participants start at the Gatekeeper’s Museum and make their way to Watson Cabin, which turns 100 this year.

History is king on the West Shore as well. Head down the 1-mile, steep trail to visit Lake Tahoe’s only castle. Vikingsholm offers a sandy beach perfect for a picnic and a quick dip in the region’s clear blue waters. Tours are available. Also on the West Shore is the 1903 Ehrman Mansion, the opulent summer home of a San Francisco businessman.

For event details, along with deals on lodging, activities and entertainment, click to

Auto museum: Exhibit celebrates first woman to drive across U.S.

alice_ramsey_bodyAn exhibit showcasing the amazing adventure of a 22-year-old from Hackensack, N.J., who became the first woman to drive across the United States in 1909, is open at the National Automobile Museum, The Harrah Collection, in downtown Reno. “On the Road with Alice Ramsey: 100 Years Ago” will fill the Changing Exhibits Gallery at the National Automobile Museum, 10 S. Lake St. through Jan. 11, 2010.

Challenged by a sales manager for Maxwell-Briscoe Company, Ramsey drove a 1909 Maxwell Model DA – 30 horsepower Touring Car right out of a New York City showroom and into history.
The company sponsored and publicized the trip to persuade Americans that cars were here to stay. The automobile had recently been invented.

There weren’t a lot of roads at the time, and those that existed were often in questionable condition. Ramsey and her three female companions carried a block and tackle, which they used often.
Ramsey changed tires often and cleaned and tested spark plugs when necessary. When she felt a “skip” in the engine she would hold a hammer against each plug and shorting it against the cylinder jackets to find the problem one. Then she would disassemble it, clean it with fine sand paper and reassemble it.

Alice Ramsey would later be the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

The National Automobile Museum at 10 S. Lake Street in downtown Reno is open Mon. – Sat. from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for children 6 to 18 years. Children age 5 and younger are free. Parking is free. For more information, call (775) 333-9300 or visit

Legends at Sparks Marina prepares for June 18 opening

Calling this a “shopping center” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a shopping experience.

The Legends at Sparks Marina, a destination retail center under construction in Sparks, Nev., is almost ready for its June 18 first-phase opening. And developers of the mega-mall are going big. Really big.

From a huge tower that anchors the center of the center, to common areas with statues depicting Nevada historical figures, features and wildlife, the concept behind Legends is to create a mecca for shopping and socializing. The first phase is expected to bring 28 tenants online, with a total of 47 tenants open for business by Aug. 1. Several tenants are already wowing visitors, including Scheels, the World’s Largest All Sports Store (at nearly 300,000 square feet) and Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen. By next spring there will also be a 13-theater movie complex, complete with an iMax screen – and tentative plans call for a destination casino hotel resort to anchor the north end of the project, as well as a concert venue that can seat up to 9,000 for big-name acts.

Bringing the “legends” to Legends

“The idea is to celebrate the history, people and places of Nevada,” said Dennis McGovern, Legends general manager. “When the first phase is finished you’ll see three ‘living room’ areas surrounded by artist depictions of the bristlecone pine (Nevada’s state tree), bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, a statue of Samuel Clemens …”

Common areas are replete with waterfalls, firepits, and lush landscaping. McGovern says developers are planting 1,600 trees and 26,000 shrubs at the site. The landscape is also varied – elevation changes enhance the feeling place and reflect the diverse topography of Northern Nevada.

Designed to appeal to all of the senses, a 151-speaker sound system will be installed at Legends, along with spaces for public events, including a five-story Christmas tree during the holiday season.

But it’s (mostly) about the shopping

On Wednesday 500 workers were on site – installing fixtures, punching out final touches on storefronts, hanging signs, pouring concrete and powering the huge electrical infrastructure.
“This place is changing every day,” McGovern said. “You can barely walk through here right now, but by June 18 this won’t even look like a construction site.”

The tenant mix will be 60 percent outlets – good news for deal seekers. Stores that have signed on the dotted line include:





Celebrate Reno-Tahoe’s newest destination

Although the ribbon will be cut June 18, Legends is going to stretch the party all summer long. A grand opening celebration runs July 31-Aug. 9.  Events include a summer concert series, fashion show, celebrity appearances, fireworks and more. The opening events coincide with the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open PGA Tour event and Hot August Nights.

Top 10 highlights for a Reno-Tahoe getaway

truckeeriverbodyboard300Reno-Tahoe is a family-friendly getaway, offering tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Add some of these Top 10 attractions to your travel itinerary:

  1. Catch a ballgame: Downtown Reno is home to a new ballpark and the Reno Aces, a Triple A team. The boys of summer are playing in Reno-Tahoe.
  2. Hit the slopes: Reno-Tahoe offers the largest concentration of ski and board resorts in North America — 18 within an hour drive of Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
  3. Shop till you drop: The shopping is great in Reno-Tahoe, including the new Legends at Sparks Marina in Sparks, Nev., which boasts more than 70 stores and restaurants, including Scheel’s, the World’s Largest All Sports Store at almost 300,000 square feet.
  4. A river runs through it: The Truckee River winds through downtown Reno and downtown Sparks, offering great opportunities for recreation and relaxation during the warm months. Whitewater enthusiasts can paddle to their heart’s content in the two whitewater parks.
  5. Nevada-style casino action: In Reno-Tahoe the action goes 24-7, with deluxe, modern resort casinos that offer fun gaming action without the Vegas crowds.
  6. The Jewel of the Sierra: Lake Tahoe is 45 minutes from Reno-Tahoe International Airport and downtown Reno — a great day trip whether it is summer or winter.
  7. The Comstock Lode: Step back to Wild West times in Virginia City. The preserved epicenter of the Comstock Lode features classic buildings, old saloons and a cast of characters that is always entertaining.
  8. V&T Railroad: Ride the rails of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Carson City, Nevada’s capitol. Working steam engines hearken back to the golden age of rail travel.
  9. Wine and dine: Reno-Tahoe is known for adventure and Nevada-style gaming, but hundreds of restaurants serving everything from casual to five-star fare also make it a great destination for culinary enthusiasts.
  10. Culture connection: Reno-Tahoe is home to 31 museums, including the Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum and the Nevada State Museum – live Nevada’s rich culture.

Reno Rodeo enters 89th year

The “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West,” the Reno Rodeo, kicked of its 89th showing Thursday with a cattle drive and the promise of more great events over 10 days in Reno.

No other event has a longer tenure in Reno – the rodeo dates all the way back to the days when Reno was little more than a western outpost sprung from the riches of the silver mining boom. Over the decades, it has evolved into one of the most prestigious of rodeo tour stops, with events as diverse as “Dodge Xtreme Bulls” and the “Wrangler World’s Greatest Roper.”

In addition to the normal slate of competitive events, the rodeo puts a premium on family fun with a parade, entertainment and a carnival-like atmosphere. Check out this great event, and bring the family. You won’t be disappointed.

For more information on the Reno Rodeo, and a full schedule of events, click here.

Reno-Tahoe active: Runners gear up for Odyssey

Reno-Tahoe OdysseyWith its high-altitude and moderate year-round climate, Reno-Tahoe attracts fitness freaks like moths to flame. Around just about every corner here there is a runner, a cyclist or a triathlete in training. And throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons, many local events draw even more fitness freaks to the Sierra…

The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey (June 6-7) offers runners an opportunity to team up with friends to conquer a 178-mile course that begins in Reno and winds around Lake Tahoe, before returning back to Reno. Along the way runners will experience the history of the Sierra Nevada, see some of the world’s most magnificent vistas and make new friends. Check the event Web site for more information on one of the region’s premier events.

Don’t Overlook Historic Gold Hill

Gold Hill Hotel

The former mining town of Gold Hill shares a similar history with Virginia City. In the late 1850s, both were the location of gold and silver discoveries that became part of the fabulous Comstock Lode.

Historians believe the community of Gold Hill formed in about 1859, initially as little more than a few dozen miners camping under trees, in tents, and in crude shacks. But within a few years, Gold Hill rivaled Virginia City in size and population.

By the early 1870s, the town claimed 8,000 residents as well as one of the most well known newspapers in the state, The Gold Hill News. It had schools, several fire companies, banks, churches, a post office, a town hall, and was an important stop on the V & T Railroad line, which, at that time, stretched from Virginia City to Reno.

As with Virginia City, Gold Hill’s decline began in the late 1870s when the mines were played out. By 1882, the newspaper had closed (it moved on to Idaho), and the people gradually drifted away. By 1943, Gold Hill couldn’t support a post office.

While much of Gold Hill has disappeared over the years—the buildings were generally victims of fires, neglect, and removal—enough remains to offer an interesting historic walking tour of this once-thriving mining town.

The old V & T Depot, for example, still sits on a flat near the north end of the canyon. The wooden board and batten frame building, constructed in 1872, was used until the Virginia City portion of the V & T ceased operating in 1936.

In recent years, the depot has been partially restored and serves as the ticket office for the revived V & T Railroad, which restarted service between Gold Hill and Virginia City in 1990. Trains run daily from May to October.

 Down the canyon from the V & T Depot is the former Bank of California building, which dates back to 1862. The red brick and stone structure is one of the few surviving commercial buildings from Gold Hill’s early days.The bank building was originally the home of the Gold Hill Bank, then became part of the Bank of California empire, when purchased in 1873 by William Sharon. In 1879, the Bank of California moved to Virginia City and the building housed a variety of businesses including a pool hall and art gallery.

Next door to the bank is the Gold Hill Hotel, the oldest hotel in the state. The original stone structure—the front part of the building—was constructed in 1859. The two-story wooden section, to the rear, is a newer addition built about a decade ago.

Up the hill from the hotel are the picturesque remains of the Yellow Jacket Mine incline shaft and headframe, built in 1937. The warped, wooden chutes leading down the hill once carried ore from the headframe at the shaft at the top.

Adjacent to the hotel is the Crown Point Mill, constructed when the area’s mines were reworked in the 1930s. Built in 1935, the mill processed ore from the Yellow Jacket and Crown Point mines. The main buildings have been maintained over the years.

Across State Route 341 from the Crown Point Mill are the Lynch House, a white Victorian on the highway, and the Pink House, a very pink-colored Victorian on the hillside above, which was once a very fashionable neighborhood in Gold Hill.

The Lynch home was built in 1869 by a state legislator while the Pink House was constructed in the 1860s for a nephew of U.S. Senator John P. Jones, who served as Nevada’s Congressional representative from 1873 to 1903. Both have remained private residences.

Next door to the Lynch place are the green-colored stone foundations of the Rhode Island Mill. Dating to 1862, the mill was one of the first stamp mills in Gold Hill.

Of course, throughout Gold Hill you can still find a handful of long-abandoned mining shacks and ruins, which provide an idea of the modest existences of most of the town’s miner-residents.

Two significant headframes mark the southern boundary of Gold Hill and the next town downhill, which is Silver City. The first, an impressive metal skeleton on the hill above the road (there is a mine shaft at the base of the hill) is part of the New York Mine and was built in 1913.

The other, located about a quarter-mile south, is the Keystone headframe. This wooden structure, surrounded by a metal fence, was built in the late 19th century and is considered one of the best remaining examples of the type of mining equipment once common throughout the Comstock.

Gold Hill is located about 20 miles northeast of Carson City via U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 341.—Rich Moreno


Getaway to Historic Belmont



If there was ever a place where you could believe that you’ve managed to escape from the hassles and pressures of daily life, it’s the rustic Belmont Inn in the historic Central Nevada mining town of Belmont.

Located about 40 miles northeast of Tonopah, Belmont can trace its beginnings to the discovery of silver in 1865. Within a few years, the town has grown to include about 5,000 residents.

In 1867, Belmont was designated the seat of Nye County and a few years later, in 1876, it constructed an impressive a two-story Italianate-style brick courthouse.

During Belmont’s heyday—which lasted from the late 1860s to about the late 1870s—the town was a beehive of building activity, boasting a bank, a couple of churches, a school, a post office, several stores and saloons.

It was during this period, in about 1866, that the distinctive two-story structure that houses the Belmont Inn was constructed. Built of wood and local limestone, the Inn originally served as the offices of the Combination Silver Mining Company.

The building was converted to a private residence several decades ago and, more recently, transformed into a bed and breakfast with five guestrooms.

The Inn, operated by Henry and Bertie Berg, is a wonder. It’s been lovingly restored so that guests can enjoy quiet, comfortable quarters in a quaint, historic setting.

Behind the main house, the Berg’s have rebuilt an old stone miner’s cabin and offer it as a kind of “honeymoon” cottage that offers plenty of privacy, although without running water or electricity. However, candles have been strategically placed around the room to provide illumination.

Large groups more interested in “roughing it,” can rent an old bunkhouse behind the main house, which has accommodations for up to ten additional guests.

The guestrooms, however, are only part of the story. The Belmont Inn also has its own, old-time saloon—Henry Berg is a great bartender who knows not only how to pour a good stiff one but lots of great anecdotes and stories about the area.

Not to be overlooked are the breakfasts, cooked by Bertie Berg. She prepares hearty, tasty fare that can include pancakes, sausage, biscuits, fruit and other delicacies.

The charm of spending time in Belmont is having a chance to explore the old mining town. The town’s silver mines began to slump after 1876. By 1890, only about 150 people remained in the town.

Jim Butler’s discovery of huge silver deposits in Tonopah in 1900 accelerated Belmont’s demise. In 1905, the county seat was moved to Tonopah and Belmont’s fine courthouse, which is now a historic state park, was closed.

Despite the years of neglect, it’s still possible to find glimpses of the settlement that once rivaled Virginia City. With more than a dozen buildings sprouting out of the sagebrush and a number of substantial ruins, Belmont looks and feels like a genuine ghost town.

Behind this row of structures is a dirt road leading to the Belmont Courthouse, which has been stabilized by the state parks. Guided tours of the courthouse are offered during the summer.

While exploring Belmont is encouraged, visitors are cautioned not to touch or take anything so that the town can be preserved for future generations. For more information about Belmont and the Belmont Inn, call 775-482-2000 or go to


Following in the Footsteps of Mark Twain


C Street in Virginia City


St. Mary’s in the Mountains Church


One of Virginia City’s fudge shopsThe recent Virginia City Camel Races got us thinking about taking a drive to the historic mining town that is about a half-hour south of Reno to just wander the wooden sidewalks and steep side streets.We head up Geiger Grade to Virginia City, which, according to legend was named when one of its founders stumbled, broke a bottle of whiskey he was carrying, and christened the town in honor of his home state of Virginia.Virginia City, in fact, is all about its past. Over the years, the mines of Virginia City produced more than a billion dollars in gold and silver and created more millionaires than television evangelism.By the early 1860s, Virginia City had grown into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the West. In addition to having 20,000 residents, the town had an opera house, elegant hotels, banks, businesses, restaurants and churches.Despite a disastrous fire in 1875, which destroyed more than 33 blocks, Virginia City has survived into the 20th century with most of its 19th century charm and appearance intact.Walking its uneven wooden sidewalks under drooping awnings, you can imagine you’re retracing the footsteps of young Sam Clemens, when he was writing for a local newspaper under the pen name, "Mark Twain."Several of the mansions of Virginia City’s mining magnates remain standing and a few are open for visits. For instance you can tour the red brick Mackay Mansion, originally the headquarters of the Gould & Curry Mine, then the residence of John Mackay, one of Virginia City’s fabulously wealthy silver kings.The Presbyterian Church on C Street, built in 1867, was one of the few structures on that block that didn’t succumb to flames during the fire of 1875. Down the hill is the magnificent St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church and the St. Paul’s Episcopalian Church, both rebuilt to their previous splendor in the years immediately after the fire.No visit to Virginia City should overlook Piper’s Opera House, located on B Street. Built in 1885, the present wooden building, which is being restored, hasn’t changed much since the days when its stage hosted touring performers, including such 19th century luminaries as Lillie Langtry and John Philip Sousa.Virginia City’s C Street is lined with small shops offering souvenirs, antiques, homemade candy and fudge, t-shirts, restaurants, small museums and a handful of saloons.But in the end, the real treat about visiting Virginia City isn’t the fudge and t-shirt shops, although they are fun. It is being able to explore a place that has hung onto history and maintained its unique, frontier character.—-Richard Moreno