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Day Trip to Carson City will reveal many items of interest

by Nancy Hamlett

A day trip to Carson City starts with an easy 20-minute drive north on Highway 395 and a stop at the Carson City Visitor’s Center, located next door to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. Turn left at the Fairview Drive stoplight. The Visitor’s Center has complete information about Carson City and a knowledgeable staff, as well as a small gift shop.

Pick up your copy of the Carson City brochure, which contains the map for the Blue Line Trail, a walking and driving tour through the historic districts of our state capital. The name for the tour is self-evident once you start on the journey. Sidewalks are painted with a blue line, which makes it virtually impossible to get lost along the way.

Beginning at the visitor’s center, continue traveling north on Highway 395 through the heart of Carson City. Points of interest and stops can include the State Legislature, the Supreme Court and the state Capitol building.

Business is in full swing at the Capitol, however tourists and day-trippers are always welcome. Cool Alaskan marble floors, wainscots and door facings set off the portraits of former governors that line the interior of the Capitol. The former Senate room on the second floor now houses a small but impressive museum, with a detailed description of the reconstruction of the Capitol in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A rotating historical exhibit is displayed in the former Assembly room.

Across the street, the County Courthouse, former Supreme Court building and Heroes Memorial building provide a fine example of early 1900s architecture and provide a wealth of information about the growth of our Capitol.

Continuing down the street are the Justice Court, Kitzmeyer building and the former Post Office built in 1891 that is now home to the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

A stop at the Northern Nevada Children’s Museum is in order. Formerly the Civic Auditorium built in 1939; the auditorium and stage are packed with interactive displays that will bring out the child in everyone.

Although the brochure advertises the Blue Line Trail walk as a one-hour expedition, Ronda Andrews, member services manager for the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, said that the minimum time doesn’t include various stops along the way.

“And be sure to bring a radio,” Andrews added. “Many of the stops are ‘talking homes,’ and you can turn into the radio for further information about the site.”

The brochure recommends a transistor or “Walkman” type radio.

The walking tour will be especially beautiful in the next few weeks. Already, flowers are sprouting and shrubs and trees are beginning to leaf and flower. Flowering quince and forsythia are already in bloom, and soon the lilacs that seem to be in every backyard will be in full scent.

The tour guide suggests following the trail so that it will culminate at the Nevada State Museum. The former U.S. Mint, visitors can see Coin Press No. 1 as well as exhibits of Dat So La Lee’s baskets, a replica of a mine and extensive displays on Nevada’s natural history. Also on display is the silver service from the USS Nevada. Made from silver mined from Tonopah and lined with gold from Goldfield, it is an elegant representation of the wealth that poured out of Nevada in boom times.

Once you’ve wandered the streets of Carson City, take a short break for lunch at any of the fine restaurants that line Carson City’s main arterial. Or opt for a picnic in Mills Park. By car, it’s only a few short blocks from the downtown area.

When you return to the Visitor’s Center, plan to spend some time in the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The fully reconditioned trains from the V&T Railway and other Nevada railroads are interesting, but by far the most fascinating site is at the roundhouse. Railroad cars in different stages of reconditioning are on display. Take as a peek into the restoration yard, where the skeletons of Nevada’s past are waiting for attention. Steam locomotives run during special events. It’s a stop that all train and history aficionados should make.

You’ve spent the better part of a day learning about our state’s heritage and history, but the tour isn’t over. As you drive south on Highway 395 to return to the Carson Valley, take a left on Snyder Avenue and detour to the Stewart Indian Cultural Center. Founded in 1890, Stewart was a school for western tribes, and the small museum is an excellent source of information regarding the school, which closed in 1980. The uniquely crafted stone buildings are a photographer’s delight, and with the warm weather, the towering trees and green grass will provide a welcome stop.

Also, on the campus is a trading post, with memorabilia and authentic Indian crafts for sale.

Often, it is easy to forget about the treasures that are close to home. After this initial foray into the history of Carson City and the state, you’ll probably want to return for more.

Good stops on your tour:

Carson City Visitor’s Center

1900 S. Carson Street

Carson City, NV 89701

775-882-7474

Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Brewery Arts Center

449 W. King St.

775-883-1976

Open weekdays

Nevada State Railroad Museum

2180 S. Carson St.

775-687-6953

Open 7 days a week 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Nevada State Capitol Building and Museum

101 N. Carson St.

775-687-5030

Open Daily

Nevada State Museum

600 N. Carson St.

775-687-4810

Open daily, except some holidays

Stewart Indian Cultural Center

5366 Snyder Avenue

Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

775-882-6928

Northern Nevada Children’s Museum

813 N. Carson Street

775-884-2226

Open daily, except Mondays.

Mills Park

Highway 50 E at Saliman St.

Note: If you plan to take this day trip during the weekend, the Carson City brochure containing the Blue Line Trail is available at hotels, motels and casinos in the Carson City area.