Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Memories of Nevada Magazine

Thanks to Nevada Magazine for inviting me to contribute some comments about my time at the magazine as part of the publication's 80th birthday. This appeared in the January-February 2016 issue.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

More Press on A Short History of Reno

Thanks to the UNR Press for mentioning "A Short History of Reno" in its year-end round up of books it published in 2015:


Saturday, January 09, 2016

More News About Short History of Reno, Second Edition

Shout out to the University of Nevada Reno's "Nevada Today" web site for mentioning "A Short History of Reno, Second Edition" in early December:


Also, thanks to Eric Moody and Susan Searcy for the nice review in the latest issue of "Nevada in the West" magazine! (Sorry it is hard to read. I'll try to get a better scan to post later. Unfortunately, the review isn't online so I can't link to it).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nice Story About "A Short History of Reno" in Reno Gazette-Journal

Thanks to Susan Skorupa for the very nice story in the Reno Gazette-Journal about "A Short History of Reno."

To read the full story online go to: http://www.rgj.com/story/life/2015/10/20/richard-moreno-short-history-of-reno-barbara-myrick-land-university-of-nevada-press/74282514/

University of Nevada Press Release on "A Short History of Reno"

The University of Nevada Press has published the second edition of A Short History of Reno by Richard Moreno.
The completely revised and updated edition provides an entertaining and informative account of Reno’s remarkably colorful history. Moreno discusses Reno’s efforts, from its early beginnings in the 1850s to the present day, to reinvent itself as a recreation, entertainment, education and technology hub. He looks at the gamblers, casino builders and performers who helped create the world-famous gaming industry, and he considers the celebrities who came to end unhappy marriages back when Reno was “the divorce capital of the world.”
He brings the city’s history up to date with coverage of the businesspersons and civic leaders who helped make Reno an attraction that still lures millions of visitors each year. Today’s travelers and residents explore Reno’s flamboyant heart and scenic wonders, topics the author examines in an accessible and lively fashion.
Moreno is director of content development at Central Washington University. He is the former publisher of Nevada Magazine and the author of twelve books, including A Short History of Carson City. He was awarded the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award in 2007.


$21.95 / 184 pages / 55 b&w photographs / 1 map

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lovelock Cave's Legendary Red-Headed Giants Continue to Fascinate

Here's a recent story about the legendary red-haired giants who allegedly once lived in the Lovelock Cave: http://locklip.com/the-ancient-giants-of-nevada-and-the-mystery-of-lovelock-cave/.

I wrote about this fascinating legend in my book, "Mysteries and Legends of Nevada," which was published in 2010 by Globe-Pequot Press (http://www.amazon.com/Mysteries-Legends-Nevada-Unsolved-Unexplained/dp/0762754125). Here's the beginning of that chapter:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ely Celebrates Its Rich Ethnic Diversity at Renaissance Village

Ely's Historic Renaissance Village

Over the past few decades, the eastern Nevada town of Ely has quietly but diligently sought to save its history.

While the revived Nevada Northern Railway is perhaps the best known of those community projects, an equally ambitious effort is Ely’s Renaissance Village, a cluster of six historic railroad houses furnished to reflect the ethnic diversity of the region when it was a thriving mining area in the first two thirds of the 20th century. 

The story of the homes—five are identical railroad section houses while the sixth has a different floor plan and is larger—can be traced to 1907, when the Nevada Northern Railway constructed them for its rail yard workers.

Originally, there were six of the 24-feet by 24-feet section houses and they were located at Eighth and B Streets in Ely. Each had a front porch and contained three rooms including a small living room, a kitchen and a single bedroom as well as a bathroom.

In 1925, Bill Geraghty (pronounced “Garrity”), who owned a local freighting and storage company, purchased five of the structures (the sixth was bought by someone else) as well as a larger house and relocated them to a parcel he owned on what is now the 400 block of Ely Street. The compound of homes remained in the Geraghty family for the next eight decades.

In 2005, the Ely Renaissance Society, a local arts group founded a few years earlier to promote arts and culture in the community—one of its most visible projects are the many colorful murals depicting scenes of local history and culture that are painted on buildings throughout Ely—acquired the Geraghty property.

The group’s goal was to restore the structures and establish an art center for the community. Additionally, it decided to renovate each of the houses with historic artifacts reflecting the various ethnic groups that were associated with the region.

As a result, one of the homes is known as the Asian House and it has been decorated with items reflecting the Chinese and Japanese immigrants who came to White Pine County in the early 20th century to find employment.

Others include: the Slavic House, celebrating the large number of Croatian and Serbian immigrants who worked in local mines; the French House, which honors the many French Basque people who came to the area from the 1920s to the 1950s to work in the local sheep industry; and the Spanish House, which spotlights the role that Spanish and Spanish Basque immigrants played in the community.

The Greek House commemorates the many Greeks who came to Ely in the early 20th century to work at the nearby McGill smelter.

Another home on the property, called the English House, was built by the Geraghty family and served as its residence for many years. The name reflects the fact that Bill Geraghty and his two brothers were originally from Devonshire, England, and it is furnished in English and Welsh furnishings.

In addition to the homes, Renaissance Village includes an old barn that was once used as storage for the Geraghty storage company, a two-room prospector’s cabin, an Italian House and an old-fashioned General Store, which sells locally made products.

A 100-seat amphitheater has been constructed behind the houses to host music events and outdoor theater performances.

Renaissance Village is open on Saturdays between June and September. A local farmer’s market is held on the property from mid-August to the end of September. For more information, go to http://www.elyrenaissance.com/.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Stokes Family's Unusual Summer Cottage

 In the late 19th century, banker Anson Phelps Stokes was a pretty big deal in Nevada.

Born in New York City in 1838, he joined his family’s successful mercantile company as a young man and by the 1860s he had begun investing in silver mines in the Reese River area around Austin, Nevada.

According to railroad historian David Myrick, in 1879 Stokes became convinced that Austin needed a rail connection to the Central Pacific Railroad line to the north at Battle Mountain in order to transport its silver ore.

He purchased the holdings of the Nevada Railway, which had unsuccessfully tried for several years to complete a 93-mile line between Austin and Battle Mountain, and renamed it the Nevada Central Railway.

The earlier rail company had persuaded the Nevada legislature in 1875 to authorize Lander County (of which Austin was the county seat) to grant $200,000 to the railroad as an incentive to build the line. However, there was a five-year time limit to complete the railroad.

After acquiring the Nevada Railway, Stokes and his partners had about five months to complete the project and earn the subsidy.

Between September 15, 1879, when he purchased the railroad, and February 9, 1880, the state mandated deadline, the Nevada Central threw down some 80 or so miles of rail and ties, an impressive accomplishment but not enough to get the job finished.

The Austin city officials came to the railroad’s rescue by voting at the last minute to enlarge the city limits to just about where the rail line reached, thereby ensuring that the line had been built to Austin, as specified in the legislation.

“At 10 minutes before midnight, track was completed by torchlight to stake 4811, 900 feet inside the expanded city limits,” Myrick wrote.

Of course, in subsequent weeks, the railroad completed the entire 93 miles of the line, which began regular service in early March.

In 1897, Stokes brought on his son, J.G. Phelps Stokes, to oversee his Austin holdings. To provide a suitable dwelling for both when in the area on business, Anson Phelps Stokes had a three-story granite slab structure erected on a hill to the west of Austin which became known as Stoke’s Castle or the Tower.

According to historians William Douglass and Robert Nylen, the castle was modeled after one located in Italy. A painting of the historic Roman structure hung in the Stokes home in New York and was the template for Stokes Castle.

J.G. Phelps Stokes later recalled, “the view from that little tower in Austin was no less beautiful than the view from the ancient tower on the Campagna, and in the boom days of fifty years ago my father and his friends, I among them, spent many a wonderful summer evening on its balcony enjoying the truly entrancing beauty of the scene that spread before us.”

Stokes also noted that the tower was originally only two stories and that he and his father first occupied it in June and July of 1897, and returned to live there in October of the same year. He said he and a business associate, Tasker Oddie (who later became a Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator) resided in the structure in February 1898 while on a business trip to Austin.

The tower was enlarged to three stories in the spring of 1898 and occupied by both father and son Stokes in June 1898. He said that shortly after that, he and his father sold their mining holdings in Austin as well as the castle.

The castle was largely abandoned for the next half-century until it was acquired in 1956 by Molly Magee Knudsen, a cousin of Stokes. Knudsen, a New York socialite who had fallen in love with Nevada, also purchased a large ranch near Austin and became an active and prominent member of the Austin community (as well as a longtime University of Nevada regent).

Remarkably, the castle remains standing today. While still in private hands (a chain-link fence has been erected around it to preserve the building), it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular Austin landmark.

Looking at the tower, can see the rough, hand-cut stone walls and the now-rusted metal supports that once held the balconies that encircled the upper floors. Partially boarded-up windows look out on the valley and a chimney rises from the top of the structure (there were fireplaces on every floor).

Visitors to Stokes Castle can reach it by heading south of U.S. 50, just west of Austin, on a well-maintained dirt road. Once there, it’s easy to see why J.G. Phelps Stokes was so enamored with the view of the surrounding Reese River Valley—it is spectacular.

For more information on Stokes Castle, contact the Austin Chamber of Commerce, www.austinnevada.com.