Changes at Mormon Station |

Changes at Mormon Station

Anita Kornoff

Mormon Station State Historic Park in Genoa is the site of Nevada’s first permanent, non-native settlement. Built in 1851 as a trading post along the Carson Route of the California Trail, the park is home to a reconstructed version of the original trading post that burned down in 1910. It boasts a museum with original pioneer-era artifacts. If you haven’t visited Mormon Station lately, you will be pleasantly surprised. Since Daniel Wasmund took on the position of Park Interpreter only about two years ago, he and his team have already completed several improvement projects.

I met with Lynne Frost, Park Tech I, who has been with the park off-and-on since 1999 recently and she was kind enough to take Laurie Hickey and me on a private tour of all the buildings to observe the changes and learn what areas are targeted for upgrading in the future. “Daniel has been an excellent leader and inspired us all to work as a cohesive team breathing new life into the park. The number of things we’ve been able to accomplish so far is remarkable.”

For starters, the reconstructed Mormon Station Trading has been reconfigured and improved to be even more interesting with a spacious layout for visitors to enjoy. “It’s all about teamwork,” says Frost. “Daniel is open to everyone on the team’s ideas and suggestions. It seems you just have to mention something and the team roll up its sleeves to make it happen,” she said.

This small but ambitious group is comprised of just one full-time and three part-time state employees as noted in the photo above and one exceptional volunteer, Rosemary Osborne. Among the first tasks undertaken was the Interpretational Signs Project. The old signs fit poorly in their frames and were not very eye-catching. The team took the time to carefully research and correct informational details and even added some interesting and humorous subjects such as pioneer sayings and customs. The wording was painstakingly edited and re-edited for accuracy, and Wasmund carefully handpicked graphics and design style before sending them out to be professionally printed. Be sure to take a moment to read them when you’re there.

Wasmund and his team take a proactive, hands-on approach to every challenge faced when it comes to improving the park. For example, some time ago after Bill and Sylvia Campbell, the owners of the home next to the park, passed away the family put it up for sale. Thanks to the efforts of community member John Henningson, arrangements were made, and the state was able to purchase the property, and it was annexed to Mormon Station. When Wassmund came on board, Frost suggested the office could use a major re-do and be put to better use. Always respectful of teammates’ opinions, he gave the idea prompt consideration and agreed it should be done. Upon approval of removing the asbestos flooring, the timing was perfect. So, the two of them came in during their spare time to clean out the house and paint it — as volunteers. Although Wasmund had no experience with house painting, he did not hesitate to jump in. How’s that for teamwork? The result is a fresh, welcoming office space with a homey feel. Frost used donated and borrowed furniture pieces to “decorate it on a dime.” Community members are invited to stop by to do research work from its small library of local history books and documents. It also creates a comfortable space for making wedding arrangements and as bridal party dressing rooms. Plans are in the works for updated signage to prominently identify the office and wedding information site in the park.

Future goals include turning portions of the old carriage house and chicken coops into exhibit windows depicting activities that originally took place in those buildings. The age of what is assumed to be a “carriage house” is yet to be verified, but judging by its square nails and partial dirt floors it is estimated as likely dating back to the 1800s. If any locals have information regarding the property, please share it with the Mormon Station Museum.

A final improvement since Wasmund took over is that the Park is now open year-round, rather than just from May through October as in previous years. With his hands-on, and enthusiastic approach he now brings in new programs throughout the fall and winter months as all as well as all those going on during the busy summer season. One example is the Dutch cooking demonstrations he presents himself each month and his entertaining professional history talks. See the website for more details

Contact Anita Kornoff at