A visual history of Carson Valley

by Sharlene Irete

R-C People Editor

The mural telling the story of the Carson River route of the Emigrant Trail is almost complete. It depicts a bird's-eye view of the Sierra along the west side of Carson Valley.

Valley artist Beverly Caputo started the 39-by-8 foot mural in August from aerial photographs of Carson Valley. She also painted the murals for the mustang and Kit Carson exhibits at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.

The mural is the focal point of the new permanent Trail to the Promised Land exhibit explaining Carson Valley's role on the route of Emigrant Trail.

"Many people don't know how important Carson Valley was. This was a great place for travelers to rest, rest their stock and resupply," said Laurie Hickey, who is part of the museum's exhibit committee, along with Betty Cordes, E-Ann Logan and Irene Marshall.

"The exhibit is new and some of the cases are new," Hickey said. "Seven cases tell the story of Carson Valley from the first inhabitants to statehood. On the backs of the exhibit cases are information about the Washoe Tribe today and modern ranches with references to economic development today."

The historical society still needs to find donors to pay for the Trail to the Promised Land exhibit. The total cost is approximately $12,000.

"We're trying to raise funds " about $3,000 more " to pay for the mural," said Hickey.

The Douglas County Historical Society supports the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center in Gardnerville and the Court House Museum in Genoa without benefit of county funding. To contribute to the exhibit, contact the historical society at 1477 Highway 395, Gardnerville, 782-2555.

"Western migration to California was one of the most important nationally significant events in American history and Carson Valley played a major role. From 1841 to 1870, an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 emigrants made the trek to California and the 'promised land.'

"After the fearful crossing of the 40-mile desert, people, animals and supplies were exhausted. The loss of life, livestock and property were of epic proportions. The final obstacle was just ahead, the towering Sierra Nevada. Carson Valley, at the base of the Sierra, was a lifeline to those weary travelers. It was a place to rest, pasture their animals and resupply before making the ascent on the final leg of their heroic journey to California and 'the promised land.'"

from the Trail to the Promised Land exhibit


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