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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


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The historic Genoa Saloon

Nevada’s earliest years are recorded in the streets of Genoa.

This picturesque hamlet, located about an hour south of Reno via U.S. 395, played an essential role in the state’s development. It was Nevada’s first formal town as well as home of the state’s first printed newspaper and site of the first territorial government meetings.

Today, you can wander the narrow streets of the town to find that nearly every house and building has a story.

The Mormon Station State Historical Monument in the center of Genoa is the most prominent reminder of Genoa’s place in Nevada history. Here, you can find a replica of the original Mormon trading post and fort, which was built in 1851 to provide goods to travelers on the Emigrant Trail.

The Mormon Station is generally recognized as the first permanent building in Nevada. The replica fort, constructed in 1947 on the site of the original, which burned in 1910, contains interpretive historic displays about the area and includes a beautiful, shaded picnic area.

Despite fire and the raves of time, plenty of pieces of the old town have survived, including the Genoa Bar, located in a building that is said to have been built in the 1850s. The bar, which boasts uneven wooden floors and a hodgepodge of historic political posters on its walls, claims to be the “oldest thirst parlor” in the state.

At the corner of Carson and Main streets is a brick Victorian home built in the mid-1850s by William J. “Lucky Bill” Thorington, a gambler, shrewd businessman and, allegedly, a polygamist.

The Raycroft/Depot House, located near the Thorington home, can trace its pedigree to the 1850s. The original building, which has been covered-up by later additions, served as the law offices for Senator William Stewart, one of Nevada’s first U.S. Senators, and was later a newspaper printing plant, a butcher shop, and a stagecoach depot.

The Pratt House, located on Nixon Street adjacent to the Genoa Community Church, was built in 1872 by local newspaper publishers A.C. and Alice Pratt. Now known as the Genoa House Inn, a bed and breakfast, the two-story Victorian is one of the most photogenic homes in Genoa.

The Genoa Courthouse Museum at Main and 5th streets, is a two-story, brick structure that was built in 1865 and served as the Douglas County Courthouse until 1916, when the county seat was moved.

For the next four decades, the building was used as a school. After 1969, it has been a museum. The courthouse, which has been restored, contains dozens of exhibits describing the community’s rich history.

For more information about Genoa, contact the Genoa Genoa Courthouse Museum, 775-782-4325.—-Richard Moreno

Explore Tahoe’s Tallac Site

Valhalla Estate at Lake Tahoe

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Beautiful gardens can be found along the Tallac Historic Site trail

There’s nothing like seeing how rich people live. Exploring a huge mansion or the grounds of a sprawling estate built by a wealthy person offers a vicarious thrill, especially for those of us unlikely to ever live in such a manner.

The Tallac Historic Site at Lake Tahoe is such a place. There, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Tallac homes were built by some of America’s wealthiest individuals. At one time, the site was also the location of Tahoe’s first casino-hotel. While many of the structures have disappeared over the years as a result of neglect and progress, a few have been preserved and are now managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Tallac Historic Site is located on Route 89, north of Camp Richardson. A wonderfully scenic two-and-a-half-mile-long bicycle and hiking path winds through the area.

Riding through the historic grounds is an opportunity to pretend that you’ve gone back to a time before automobiles and airplanes, when only the super-rich could afford to build seasonal homes in a once remote place, such as Lake Tahoe.

The setting is remarkably peaceful and very beautiful. The trail is lined with tall pine trees filled with chattering birds and, as you ride along, provides glimpses of the clear, blue waters of the lake.

While the main path is paved, there are several dirt tributaries that snake through the reserve and lead to small, hidden beaches or particularly scenic tree groves.

Development of the Tallac area started in the 1870s, when Yank Clement opened the Tallac Point House on the south shore to accommodate visitors. “Yank’s” inn also offered steamboat rides, a saloon and dancing.

In 1880, “Yank’s” was sold to Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, a California entrepreneur and professional gambler. Baldwin transformed the sleepy lakeside inn into a 250-room resort that included a casino, ballroom, four bowling alleys, sun parlors and billiards rooms.

Meanwhile, in 1894, George Tallant, son of one of the founders of California’s Crocker Bank, built a rustic summer lodge adjacent to the Baldwin estate.

Five years later, Tallant sold his property to millionaire Lloyd Tevis, who expanded and renovated the home, making it the largest and most luxurious in the area. Tevis added servants quarters, a dairy, stables and a shaded, garden with Japanese tea house and arched bridges.

In 1923, Tevis sold the compound to George Pope Jr., a San Francisco lumber and shipping magnate. To reflect Pope’s ecumenical name, the estate was nicknamed the “Vatican Lodge.”

Also in 1923, another prominent businessman, Walter Heller purchased the land south of the Pope estate. Heller began construction of what would become the last great Tallac mansion, an impressive stone and wood lodge named Valhalla, which is now used for concerts and special events.

The early 1920s marked the heyday of the magnificent Tallac homes but was also the end of “Lucky” Baldwin’s resort. In 1920, Baldwin’s daughter, Anita, closed the casino-hotel and demolished the buildings. Later that same year, Dextra Baldwin McGonagle, Baldwin’s granddaughter, constructed a beautiful single-story home on the family property.

Today, the 2,000-acre Tallac Historic Site includes the historic homes, a museum, gardens, trails, picnic tables and several public beaches including Kiva Beach and Baldwin Beach. For more information, contact 530-541-4975.—Richard Moreno





We read that the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City was going to run one of its old steam trains this weekend so we headed over there for a ride. We arrived to find a small crowd of other train fans waiting for Engine Number 8, a vintage locomotive that was built in 1888 by the Cooke Locomotive & Machine Company and originally used on the Denver, Texas & Fort Worth Railroad.

The classic engine, now used for steam-ups at the state railroad museum, was once owned by Twentieth Century-Fox Films and appeared in several movies including “Jesse James,” in 1938, and “The Gambler” with Kenny Rogers in the 1970s.

After paying for our tickets, a very affordable $5 for adults and $3 for children 6-11 (under 6 free), we boarded the train, which had three passenger cars including a red caboose, an open car, and an antique Virginia & Truckee Railroad car (old Number 10).

Within a few minutes, the locomotive had built up a head of steam and we pulled away from the restored Wabuska Depot, an authentic V & T building that had once stood in the Nevada hamlet of Wabuska (near Yerington). The train runs around the outer edge of the museum grounds, offering an overview of the various buildings, including the main museum and the shops where the trains are maintained and restored.

It passes by a replica of an old-fashioned roundtable, which is kind a “lazy Susan” for trains, before heading behind the structures, by Ted Gibson Park, and toward a wooded area surrounded by a small marsh filled with cattails. There, the train begins a complicated series of maneuvers that allow it to be turned around before returning to the depot.

Along the way, we’re jostled by the swaying motion of the old steam train, feel the metal wheels gripping the tracks, and experience the unique ride only found on an old-fashioned train journey.

We’d been on the train for about a bit under a half-hour but the ride felt like it was much shorter. We chatted briefly with a volunteer, who enthusiastically told us the history of the V & T and the car in which we were riding. We climbed off the train and wandered over to the museum and the maintenance shops.

But as we viewed the shiny locomotives and restored freight and passenger cars on display, we realized that they only made us think about riding the train again.

So we did.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum offers steam train rides on nearly every weekend during the summer and selected dates including Labor Day weekend, Nevada Day weekend, and Thanksgiving weekend. For a complete schedule call 775-687-6953.—Richard Moreno