CARSON VALLEY HISTORICAL MARKER TEXT

NEVADA'S BIRTHPLACE 

Carson Valley is the birthplace of Nevada. In 1850 a first settlement was made at Mormon Station, renamed Genoa in 1856. Here, in 1851, the first attempt to form a government was made. In 1861, Nevada's Territorial Government was established at Genoa.

Over the old road skirting the west bank of the Carson River thousands of immigrants moved southward to cross the Sierra, feeding their livestock on grass cut along the river. At Genoa, at Mottsville, settled in 1852; and at Sheridan, settled by Moses Job about 1854, they stopped to enjoy produce of the state's first gardens. Pony Express riders used this route in 1860, switching in 1861 to the shorter Dagget Trail, now Kingsbury Grade.

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KINGSBURY GRADE

Dagget Pass Trail, named for C.D. Dagget, who acquired land at its foot in 1854, was earlier called Georgetown Trail. Replaced in 1860 by the wagon road built by Kingsbury and McDonald, for which they received a Territorial Franchise in 1861, it shortened the distance between Sacramento and Virginia City by 15 miles.

The road cost $585,000. Toll receipts were $190,000 in 1863. Heavy eastward travel occurred in 1860 to 1868. The toll for a wagon and four horses was $17.50 round trip from Shingle Springs, California, to Henry Van Sickle's station near the foot of the grade. Van Sickle, who helped finance the road, eventually acquired it and sold it to Douglas County in 1889 for $1000.

Horse-drawn water carts sprinkled summer dust, and sleds packed winter snow, providing a year- round hard-surfaced road.

Pony Express and the line of the Humboldt & Salt Lake Telegraph Company followed Kingsbury Grade.

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LUTHER CANYON (Fay Canyon)

Luther Canyon, west of this site, takes its name from Ira M. Luther, who from 1858-1865 had a sawmill there. The house across the road (east) was his home. In 1861, he was a delegate to the Second Nevada Territorial Legislature.

After 1865, the canyon came to be known as Horse Thief Canyon, because of the "business" of John and Lute Olds, owners of the next ranch south. Besides operating a station along the Emigrant Trail for a number of years, they rustled horses from emigrants. The animals were sent up the canyon to drift over the ridge into Horse Thief Meadows; after resting and feeding, the horses were driven down to Woodfords Canyon to sell to other emigrants. A prospector called Saw Tooth was allegedly murdered and buried in the barn south of the Luther house. Sam Brown, a notorious badman, was shot and killed in front of the Olds barn in 1861 by a man he threatened. "Lucky Bill" Thorington, implicated in a murder in California, for which he was hanged by vigilantes in 1858, had a ranch two and a half miles to the south--and the pioneers called the school district "Fairview."

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WALLEY'S HOT SPRINGS

Like many Nevada hot springs, these dot a fault break along which the mountains rise.

In 1862, along this Carson branch of the Emigrant Trail, David and Harriet Walley developed a $100,000 spa with 11 baths, a ballroom and gardens. The thermal waters (136 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit) became well known as a cure of "rheumatism and scrofulous affections." (sic)

It sold for a mere $5000 in 1896 but functioned as hotel until 1935 when it burned. Its former cool cellar you see is still in use.

In 1962, trial hydro-thermal power holes were drilled here as deep as 1,250 feet; maximum temperature is 181 degrees.

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MOTTSVILLE

This is the site of the settlement on the Emigrant Trail known as Mottsville, where Hiram Mott and his son Israel settled in 1851. Their homestead was the scene of an impressive number of firsts in Carson County, Utah Territory:

1851: Israel Mott's wife, Eliza Ann Middaugh, was the first white woman settler.

1854: Mrs. Israel Mott opened the first school in her kitchen. The Mott's second child, Louisa Beatrice, was the first white girl child to be born.

1856: Judge W.W. Drummond held the first session of the United States District Court of the Third District of Utah Territory in the Mott barn built in 1855.

1857: The third child of the Motts died and was buried in the yard. This tiny grave was the first in what became the first cemetery. The cemetery, 300 feet east, is all that marks the site of Mottsville today.

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SHERIDAN

In 1861, a blacksmith shop, a store, a boarding house, and two saloons comprised the village of Sheridan which had grown up around the general store of Moses Job established prior to 1855. This enterprising merchant named the peak, in the shadow of which the town stood, after himself having planted an American flag on the top. The Sheridan House was here built before 1875. The Surveyor General, in his 1889-90 biennial report, stated that Sheridan was the metropolis of the Carson River West Fork farmers.

The Sheridan House, since converted to a dwelling, stands across the road just east of this marker. It is all that remains of the "metropolis."

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CRADLEBAUGH BRIDGE

The remains of Cradlebaugh Bridge, built in 1861 by William Cradlebaugh, stand .25 mile westward. That bridge shortened the distance from Carson City to Aurora in the then booming Esmeralda Mining District.

There were two routes from Carson City south to the bridge where they joined, crossed the river and headed into the desert. One followed the west side of the Carson River; the foothill alternate went via Jacks Valley and the old John James Ranch, then around the hill to the bridge. Five miles south of Cradlebaugh Bridge the road passed Desert Station, a lively hostelry, and beyond, the Twelve Mile House en route to Esmeralda.

The road and bridge were purchased by Douglas County in 1895 for $4,000.

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BOYD TOLL ROAD

William H. Boyd was granted a Utah Territory Franchise December 19, 1861, to provide a road to join Genoa to the Cradlebaugh Toll Road, the trunkline to the mining district of Esmeralda. Boyd's Toll Road is still visible to the northwest and southeast from this marker.

When the telegraph line from Placerville through Genoa was strung along it in 1863, the Boyd Road was also called "Telegraph Road." It was purchased by Douglas County from Henry Van Sickle and Lawrence Gilman in 1876 for $2,650.

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TWELVE MILE HOUSE

An important hostelry was so named because of its distance from Genoa and also from Cradlebaugh Bridge across the Carson River. It was built in 1860 by Thomas Wheeler where the Boyd Toll Road to Genoa and the Cradlebaugh Toll Road to Carson City converged. In this vicinity, a second station was built by James Teasdale.

Twelve Mile House was an important stop on the road to the Esmeralda mining camp of Aurora.

You will see buildings of the original station here.

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GARDNERVILLE

Early Gardnerville served the farming community and teamsters hauling local produce to booming Bodie. The first buildings were a blacksmith shop, a saloon and the Gardnerville Hotel. The latter was moved by Lawrence Gilman in 1879 from the emigrant trail between Genoa and Walley's Hot Springs, where it was known as Kent House, to this site, the homestead of John M. Gardner.

Just as Genoa was the center for British settlers (largely Mormon) after 1851, so Gardnerville, after 1879, became the center for 1870 Danish immigrants. They founded the Valhalla Society in 1885 and met in Valhalla Hall--now gone.

Starting in 1898, Spanish and French Basque shepherds tended some 13,000 sheep in Carson Valley, increasing to 25,000 by 1925, when the Basques began acquiring their own sheep and land. After 1918, several Basques in Gardnerville opened inns which flourished during the Prohibition years.

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MINDEN

Minden, the seat of Douglas County since 1916, was named for a town in Westphalia, Germany, where the founder of the H.F. Dangberg Land and Live Stock Company was born in 1829. The company established Minden in 1905 to provide terminal facilities for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which was then extending a branch line southward from Carson City. The passenger and freight depot was situated at this point.

Principal promoter of the town and its related development was H.F. Dangberg, Jr., secretary of the company and son of the founder.

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DRESSLERVILLE

In 1917 State Senator William F. Dressler gave this 40-acre tract to Washo Indians, then living on ranches in Carson Valley. After a school was opened in 1924, it became a nucleus of settlement.

Before the intrusion of Caucasians in 1848, Washo lived in winter in the Pinenut Hills where they stored autumn harvested pinenuts. In summer, they lived in the Lake Tahoe Basin fishing the tributary streams and gathering roots and berries. In fall, they hunted jackrabbits and gathered seeds in Carson Valley.

Their only form of organization was that of kinship.

These stone age people lived in daily communion with giants, monsters, animals whose characteristics were interchangeable with those of people, and with water babies, "having the bodies of old men and the long hair of girls," who lived in the lakes of the High Sierra.

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CARSON VALLEY

Carson Valley below, now a broad expanse of cultivated and pasture lands, was originally a strip of meadow along the banks of the river where 49ers, following the California branch of the emigrant trail, rested their stock and bought vegetables from the Mormon station owners.

After discovery of the Comstock Lode (1858) settlers extended the natural meadows by irrigation to provide hay, meat and butter for the miners in Virginia City and neighboring towns.

From 1870, German, Danish and Swiss immigrants enlarged the area still more to supply produce to booming Bodie and, after 1905, to supply Tonopah and Goldfield.

Good range and agricultural practices have allowed Carson Valley to continue to be one of Nevada's finest agricultural areas.

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