Showing off Carson Valley

A lone cowboy sits on a horse in front of the newly built Minden Courthouse around 1916, a half-dozen years since the first Carson Valley Day was celebrated.
Douglas County Historical Society

A lone cowboy sits on a horse in front of the newly built Minden Courthouse around 1916, a half-dozen years since the first Carson Valley Day was celebrated. Douglas County Historical Society

There is a historic picture showing a lone cowboy on a horse sitting next to the newly constructed Douglas County Courthouse, around a decade after the town’s founding.

There are no homes visible around the courthouse as it sits in what was previously a Dangberg field, before an act of the Legislature.

Carson Valley had served as Nevada’s breadbasket for decades, feeding emigrants during the big mining booms. But things had slowed down around the turn of the 20th Century and many of the roads the Valley’s farmers relied on to get their produce to market were in disrepair.

Minden was founded in 1906, around the same time as two of Nevada’s largest cities, Las Vegas and Sparks, all three railroad towns. Unlike the first and fourth largest cities in the Silver State, Minden was on a spur of the Virginia & Truckee.

Getting the V&T down to Carson Valley was seen as a way to spark a renaissance for the county, which was home to only 1,534 people, according to the U.S. 1900 Census, and was actually declining in population.

By 1910, the new town of Minden and the railroad managed to goose the county’s population up 23.5 percent to 1,895, but that wasn’t sufficient for the Valley’s boosters.

That’s the world into which Carson Valley Days was born in 1910 as an attempt to show people that the Valley was a going agricultural concern and attract new residents.

That first Carson Valley Day was June 11, 1910, and consumed the time and effort of pretty much everyone who lived here to nearly double the population for one day.

If the Census is any gauge, there weren’t that many takers, despite moving the county seat to Minden. By 1920, the county’s population was down 70 people to 1,825, and it would be 20 years before it rose above that 1910 peak. Memories of that first Carson Valley Day persisted, though it was usually celebrated with a dinner dance with the occasional big event until 1946 when it became the juggernaut it is today. That’s thanks to the hustle of the handful of Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club members, who’ve shown amazing perseverance over generations.

We hope you enjoy this weekend’s celebration of Carson Valley’s heritage as Nevada’s garden spot.

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