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Genoa Sesquicentennial Committee seeks help

by Nancy Miluck

The Genoa Sesquicentennial Committee invites history buffs and interested volunteers to attend a July 8 meeting at 7 p.m. in the town meeting room in the old Genoa volunteer fire house next to the town hall. Participants will plan activities and programs to commemorate the establishment of the trading post which founded Nevada’s first permanent settlement.

Volunteers are needed to offer ideas and plan and set up committees and some fund-raisers to cover expenses.

The proposed Sesquicentennial Fair will be held June 3-4, 2001. Some of the activities and programs proposed are an art exhibit with contest for children to produce historic illustrations related to the settlement of Genoa, bands and barbershoppers, a logging exhibit at Mormon Station State Park, an exhibit of antique photos of the area, a trading post, a farmers’ market, stagecoach rides, a country dance and a picnic honoring descendants of the early settlers. There are many descendants of the early settlers living in the Valley, Carson City, Reno and nearby California towns.

Other suggestions include a Pony express display, skits, a walking tour, plus the annual Home and Garden Tour produced by L & M Promotions. It is hoped that various booths can be invited to contribute to the old-fashioned celebration. A replica of the Territorial Enterprise, which was first printed in Genoa in December 1858, has been proposed.

Sen. Harry Reid’s office is following up a letter sent to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, requesting a special stamp to commemorate the Sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon trading party at the site of Genoa.

A centennial stamp was issued in 1951 to observe the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Mormon Station trading post which led to the settlement of the area and the beginning of Nevada. John Reese arrived June 6, 1851, with 16 men and 13 wagons to establish the trading post that was the first permanent structure in what would become Nevada.

The traders constructed the hotel/store building and a stockade and planted crops. Soon the traders were joined by settlers, most of whom were members of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church, or the Mormons. By 1852, there were land claims filed and a government of sorts organized. A post office opened in December 1852, and Genoa was soon growing fast. Although about 500 Mormons left Carson and Washoe Valleys during the Mormon Recall of 1857, some remained and gentile, or non-Morman, settlers quickly took over the lands of those who departed.

Genoa had its heyday in the 1860s and 1870s.

There were several hotels, including the Raycraft, Rice’s Hotel and Gilman’s, which later became the poor house where the fire of 1910 was started. David and Harriet Walley built their elegant hotel, spa and restaurant in 1862 and entertained prominent guests. There was a stage office in the 1850s, a post office from 1852 and a telegraph office after 1858. The Pony Express served Genoa, and teams of freighters often lined the streets.

The Gold Rush had spurred emigrant travel from the East in 1849, and the Comstock Rush in 1859 brought hordes traveling east over the Sierra Nevada and through the Carson Valley. What was built as a way station and trading post to serve travelers became the center of a thriving town and in the 1860s a commercial center.

For information, contact Nancy Miluck, 782-2486.