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Happy Anniversary Washoe City!

Washoe City on the valley’s north end celebrates it’s 150th anniversary this year having been established in 1861. In 1961 historians, politicians and locals gathered to dedicate a plaque and monument marking the centennial. Governor Grant Sawyer was even in attendance.
Washoe City was important as it was designated the county seat being, at that time, the biggest town in the new county of Washoe. Washoe City was at the crossroads of travel between Virginia City, Reno and Carson City while being situated in the busy farming and logging area of Washoe Valley. It wasn’t till 10 years later in 1871 that Reno took the county seat having become more important by straddling the transcontinental railroad. Until then, Washoe City, was a bustling town with all the usual saloons, churches, newspapers and stores that marked civic progress up to that time.
The monument was placed, as described in the newspaper account, “about a hundred yards northwest of the original stone and brick buildings at the site of a future roadside rest.” This weekend, my wife, Andy, and I jumped in the car and made the journey over to see for ourselves, never having noticed a monument before. From previous explorations and studying old photos of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad and Washoe City I knew where the old tracks passed through the valley, skirting the east side of Washoe City before crossing the highway and entering the canyon. We parked at the entrance of Washoe Estates and looked around. Andy immediately saw the monument in the landscaping. Next, I looked for the site of the buildings that appear in the old photos and was shocked that one of them is still there! It is the cut granite building that houses the nursery business! Wow, I thought everything was long gone. If you’re interested in Washoe Valley history or western history, wander over sometime and check it out.
The building of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad from Virginia City to Reno in 1869 instantly changed the dynamics of the whole region. Ore could now be economically transported to mills along the Carson River and supplies could go directly from the Transcontinental Railroad to Virginia City without stopping. Many local towns went into decline, Washoe City after only 10 raucous years.
1961 was a busy year for local dignitaries as many centennials were held that year. Squaw Valley celebrated 100 years of skiing in the Sierra, Mark Twain’s association with Nevada was honored, Mono County celebrated, oh, and the Civil War. I did not realize 2011 was the 150th anniversary of so many things in our area and my appreciation goes out to Arline and Heidi of the Nevada Historical Society for the tip!

One Comment

  1. Thank you for your story, and great pictures! I will include this in the Washoe City Clipping File, here at the Nevada Historical Society. Now can you write a story on the Washoe Causeway? Thanks! Heidi

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