May 31, 2006
N evada honored three Carson Valley ranching families for their hard work and contribution to the history of the state. The second annual Centennial Ranch and Farm Awards were presented on July 30 at the Winnemucca Convention Center at the close of the Superior Livestock Auction.
This year’s local award winners are Laura Springs Ranch on Foothill Road, Stodieck Farm in Minden, which was also a recipient of the historic structures designation, and the Heise Family Ranch in Gardnerville.
The Laura Springs Ranch
An immigrant from Oslo, Norway, ancestor Nils Arnt Morrison arrived in Carson Valley via covered wagon with his Norwegian wife and two children in 1863.
Morrison purchased the ranch that year and later had seven more children.
The Morrisons grew wheat, barley, oats and alfalfa. His wife Carolyn died in 1880, leaving him responsible for raising his children.
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Eventually he returned to Norway to propose to his deceased wife’s sister and brought her back to Carson Valley to marry him.
There are several historic structures on the Laura Springs Ranch, including the main house, barn, granary and wash house.
Current owners Laura Allerman Hickey and Daniel Hickey produce hay and cattle on the ranch.
Interestingly, the home of the first female medical doctor in Carson Valley, Dr. Eliza Cook, is also on the ranch, moved from its original location half a mile away.
The Stodieck Farm
Currently owned by Fred and Betty Stodieck, this prime real estate on the Carson River was first purchased by F.W. Stodieck in 1868 with $2,900 in gold coin. Born in Prussia (which later became Germany) he arrived in Carson Valley in 1864. The ranch produced “general produce” and cattle. Built in 1874, the main house with some of it’s gingerbread detailing, still remains along with a brick pump house, the original log cabin the Stodiecks first occupied, a hog barn and bunk house among other structures. The Stodieck’s produce Angus cattle, hay and alfalfa.
The Heise Family Ranch
The third Carson Valley ranch to receive the award is the Heise Family Ranch in Gardnerville. Frederick Heise was born in Wittlohe, Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1876 at the age of 18. After fleeing an outbreak of yellow fever in his new home of Illinois, Frederick “Fritz” Heise ended up in Carson Valley in 1878. From that time until he purchased the ranch in 1902 currently run by the Heise family, Fritz ranched in Carson Valley, selling services provided by his “Petaluma Hay Press” to neighboring ranchers. He established the Douglas County Creamery in 1893 with one of the Centennial Ranch Families honored last year, the Henningsens, along with other dairy producers. In 1980, a lightening strike burned the Heise barn, built in the 1870s, an exact replica of the barn still standing on the Dangberg Ranch.
The Centennial Ranches and Farms program was initiated last year by the State Historic Preservation Office in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Farm Bureau, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nevada Cattleman’s Association and the Ag Council to recognize families who have kept a Nevada ranch or farm in the family for at least 100 years.
The award is a metal sign designating the property as a Nevada Centennial Ranch and Farm. To qualify, a family must have been ranching or farming on the same property in Nevada for 100 years or more and be a working ranch or farm with 160 acres or with gross annual sales of at least $1,000. An additional Historic Structures Award will go to Centennial Ranches and Farms awardees who have four or more structures on their ranch that are over 50 years of age without major alterations.
“The stories of these ranching families are great chronicles of hard labor and enterprising spirit,” Terri McBride of the State Historic Preservation Office said. “Many of the founding ranchers were immigrants to the U.S., finally settling in Nevada. One family’s ancestor registered one of the state’s first cattle brands at the age of 21; another settler from Germany bought his property for $2900 in gold coin in 1868; and one pioneering man purchased 80 acres in the southern Nevada desert, meticulously worked the land and produced enough to feed a family of ten.”