On May 9, Reno celebrated 150 years since the city’s founding back in 1868.
How did Reno get started you ask? A century and a half ago, the Central Pacific Railroad auctioned off 400 lots surrounding the site of a planned railroad depot. The city of Reno was born.
The town was named after General Jesse Lee Reno, who was a Union Army general that was tragically gunned down by a Confederate sniper in 1862. General Reno has actually never set foot in Nevada, much less the city that was named for him. Historical researchers believer that CPRR president Leland Stanford dubbed the town Reno to honor his friend General Irvin McDowell, how was one of Gen. Reno’s former commanding officers.
Reno was not the first settlement in the region and the history of Europeans staking a claim here is barely represented by the humans that occupy the Truckee Meadows. The Washoe Native American tribe has lived in this area for more than 5,000 years!
Charles Full built a toll bridge across the Truckee River (where the Virginia Street Bridge is now) in 1860 and it didn’t take long for a small settlement to form shortly after. Myron Lake later purchased the bridge and he is actually considered by historians to be the original “founder of Reno”. Lake sold the railroad around 107 acres of his land just north of the river on May 9, 1868. The company auctioned off the first lots to the new townsite.
Fast forward years later and the Biggest Little City has massively grown due to the mining and railroad industries, later followed by gambling and skiing and now largely due to distribution and tech manufacturing. Wow, how Reno has grown and changed! We’ve come from a simple bridge crossing a river to a city of nearly a quarter of a million people. Most people don’t know that it’s possible to stand in the heart of downtown Reno and not even realize that a railroad runs straight through it. The tracks were lowered below ground in 2006.
The Reno 150 Celebration commenced all day on May 9, 2018. Arts for All Nevada hosted guided tours of the historic Lake Mansion on Court Street and Arlington Avenue. The tours included a Myron Lake impersonator, Q-and-A session with historian Patty Cafferata and a birthday cake for Reno.
The official party was at Greater Nevada Field with music, dancing, history lesson and cupcakes. There was even a massive “HOME” sculpture with the outline of Nevada as the letter “o” to play off Nevada’s state song, “Home Means Nevada”. Later in the evening, the Reno Aces minor league baseball team took on the Albuquerque Isotopes with a firework show that followed.
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