Minden author writes about early-day Carson City
A few tongue-in-cheek stories and some never-before-seen stories are included in Ray Smith’s latest book, “Carson City Yesterdays, Volume I.”
Smith, who lives in Minden and has written many books about Nevada, says he’s not sure if he will publish a volume II, but he’s “left it open.”
“I’ve got about half a book’s worth of material right now,” he explained.
Smith was scheduled to give a talk at the Gold Hill Hotel last spring and was asked what he was going to talk about.
Pulling a topic out of the air, he said, “How about early-day Carson City?”
The trouble was, there was no definitive book about Carson City from which he could draw information, he said.
“I was shocked,” he said. “There was hardly a thing.”
So Smith wrote his own book.
As he began his research, he said he found some fascinating stories.
“I really got enthused when I got into it,” he said.
Smith said he may have spent more time than necessary on the bank embezzlement scandal in 1927 – but it was a “big deal,” involving state treasurer Ed Malley, H. C. Clapp of Carson Valley and former state controller George Cole – and the Carson Valley bank.
In an elaborate scheme, the men siphoned off over half a million dollars from the bank and tried to cover it up.
Smith, who knew Malley in the 1960s when he was a real estate agent at north shore of Lake Tahoe, was unaware at the time of the man’s background. Malley had one arm, and Smith and others called him the “one-armed bandit.” Little did they know.
Other stories are about the beginnings of Carson City, Kings Canyon Road, the Warren Engine Co., wood drives, saloons, mining, Dat So La Lee and her patron, Abe Cohn, the demise of the V&T Railroad and a Carson earthquake.
The book is not a history textbook, but offers vignettes of an earlier time, when Carson City was “kinder and gentler” and offered a “climate of peace, relaxation and slowness,” as Smith writes in his foreward.
“These stories barely scratch the surface,” Smith wrote. “There are literally hundreds more. None are earth-shaking to be sure, but all are sort of fun, sometimes even humorous, and sometimes steeped in bathos. Early Carson was indeed a wondrous place”
The book includes 46 stories and many old photos, drawings and maps. The book sells for $20 and is available at the Carson Valley Pharmacy in Stratton Center in Gardnerville.
“It will make the ideal Christmas gift for people in Carson City in particular or anyone who has an affinity for Carson,” Smith said.
He hopes to have books available at other venues in the Valley before Christmas.