This fertile valley, informally called Truckee Meadows, is tucked between two stunning mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and the Virginia Range. Reno has always been a great place to gamble, from mining for gold in the mountains or in the casinos.
To provide a convenient connection between Virginia City (as in Nevada) and the California Trail, Charles W. Fuller gambled on striking it rich when he erected his log toll bridge in 1859 over the Truckee River and then waited for the '49ers to come to him.
Fuller undoubtedly lost a fortune when he sold his bridge to Myron C. Lake two years later. Myron ran with the hand he’d been dealt and came up with a full house, adding a grist mill, kiln and livery stable to the existing hotel and eating house. Lake earned the title, “Founder of Reno” to go along with his good fortune.
Ya gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.
Ya gotta know, too, there’s more to Reno than gambling. Here’s what I know when it comes to Reno.
1. Wild horses are near and dear to this Wild West town! Of course, if you’re a fan of A Place Called Roam, you know this factoid is not really new news. If you’re not a fan, join the party, but not before you check out yesterday’s blog for anything and everything about America’s living legends roaming Reno.
Had you going there for a minute with the poll, didn’t I? But the basic facts are accurate. Seems Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer in the American Civil War, was killed during the Battle of South Mountain (I hate when that happens!). Major General Reno was obviously as popular as he was heroic; Reno County, Kansas, Reno, Nevada, El Reno, Oklahoma and Fort Reno in Washington, D.C. were all named after the Major General.
Over 30,000 divorces were granted in the Washoe County Courthouse during the 1930s, when Reno was the only place in the world where “quickie divorces” could be had in six weeks rather than the minimum 12-month industry standard at the time. According to popular legend, women “Reno-vated” after the required six-week Reno “vacation” would kiss a column on the Courthouse portico on their way out, then walk to the Virginia Street Bridge and toss their wedding rings into the Truckee River.
Apparently the trend caught on, because when three buddies applied for and were granted a permit to dredge in the waters beneath the Virginia Street Bridge in the summer of 1976, they came away with 90 rings, hundreds of pounds of silver coins and a good number of casino chips. Their efforts over the next three summers netted more than 400 rings total, although few were worth much; as much as the marriages that ended with the tradition, perhaps.
At least two movies, the 1939 Reno, and the 1960s The Misfits, starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, incorporated ring-tossing scenes to depict this Reno legend. I much prefer the heartwarming 21st century trend involving lovers and locks and tossing keys. Check out this latest trend via this link to my most popular post to date.