Patriotism, partying and pyrotechnics distinguish Nevada’s Fourth of July events


CARSON CITY, Nev. — From boat regattas to steam train rides to breathtaking fireworks, Nevada offers plenty of ways to celebrate Independence Day. This summer, make the most of the holiday by attending one of the state’s many spectacular Fourth of July events.

“Nevada has a distinctive role in American history, given our entry into the Union during the Civil War,” Larry Friedman, Nevada Commission on Tourism interim director, said. “We celebrate that heritage with plenty of Fourth of July events — and Nevada’s geographic and cultural diversity means there are so many different types of events on offer.”

Plan ahead for the festivities, whether they include a big-city blowout or they involve a charming rural festival.

  • Las Vegas fireworks: Station Casinos properties once again will offer a city-wide pyrotechnics display, with fireworks going off at five Station Casino properties: Aliante Station, Green Valley Ranch resort, Fiesta Rancho, Texas Station and Red Rock Resort.
  • Star Spangled Sparks: This perennial event in Sparks includes a day of festivities at the Sparks Marina, followed by a rousing fireworks show in nearby Victorian Square. Events start at dawn, with free hot-air balloon rides. Also enjoy a Sparks Idol contest modeled after the TV show “American Idol”; a boat regatta in which people build homemade watercrafts out of cardboard, then test them in the Sparks Marina; and an array of food and vendor booths. The fun is capped off in the evening with a fireworks show sponsored by John Ascuaga’s Nugget. For more, see the website
  • Steam train rides in Ely: It may be a small town just off the old Pony Express route, but Ely does holidays with a bang. Wake up early for a breakfast hosted by White Pine County, followed by a traditional parade at 11 a.m. and children’s games in Ely’s Broadbent Park. For a novel view of fireworks, head for the Nevada Northern Railway, where a historic steam train heads up Robinson Canyon , where passengers can see the show, or catch the pyrotechnics at the White Pine County Golf Course. For more, see the website
  • Elko fireworks: The annual fireworks show coordinated by Nevada Assemblyman John Ellison and sponsored by Ellison Electric and other community groups is the highlight of Independence Day in Cowboy Country. The pyrotechnics display runs about 45 minutes and is preceded by speeches by members of the VFW and POW*MIA. For more, see the website
  • Virginia City sticks with tradition: The historic mining town digs deep into tradition this year, offering classic July 4 fireworks and entertainment. A parade down C Street is set to start at noon, and David John and the Comstock Cowboys will perform their repertoire of songs about America, cowboys, horses and the Old West at 5 p.m., with fireworks to follow after sundown.

Get ready to revel this July 4: From Lake Tahoe to Boulder City, there are unique celebrations from one end of the state to the other. From big-city pyrotechnics to patriotic speeches, you’ll be sure to have plenty from which to choose. For more information on this and other summer fun in Nevada, visit

Three Storey County businesses seek state incentives, NNDA leads effort


VIRGINIA CITY, Nev.–Storey County will hear requests for support from three companies seeking state incentives at its April 5 commission meeting in Virginia City through the efforts of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. Companies seeking to locate a facility in Nevada and that meet specific criteria may seek state incentives for sales and use tax abatement and deferral, modified business tax and personal property tax abatements and training grant dollars.

Pat Whitten, Storey County manager, said “This is a prime example of how working together for a common cause – jobs – is the right thing to do. NNDA and the county are very excited to welcome and support three companies that will have the potential of collectively creating more than 200 jobs in the next several months with possibly over 500 seasonal positions later in the year.”

“We strive to be one of the leading states providing first-rate customer service at all levels. Helping these businesses to be successful is our main goal because we know that will create jobs,” Rob Hooper, executive director of the NNDA, said. “Storey County opens its arms to business and it shows in the ease with which companies can navigate their licensing and other business requirements. Likewise, The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, the largest industrial center in the world, already has in place the best and most comprehensive infrastructure of any center in the nation. Plus, with these three companies comes the ability to support and recruit additional companies who will see that Nevada is ‘open for business.’”

Dean Haymore, Community Development Director for Storey County, works with many of the companies looking to locate in Storey County to ensure they understand the seamless process in place within the county. Haymore noted, “Creating jobs within the county is a number one priority for me and my job is to help make the company’s transition in setting up their facility here as smooth as possible.”

The following three businesses are applying for state incentives and will be asking for Storey County’s support:

  • Schluter Systems L.P.:  A distributor of tile installations, edging and finishing products
  • GSI Commerce: A leading provider of e-commerce and interactive marketing services
  • Toys “R” Us:  A well-known distributor and world’s leader in toy and juvenile products such as toys, games and related products

NNDA’s mission is to facilitate the recruitment of new business and industry and the retention and expansion of existing businesses.  NNDA’s vision is to secure an abundant and sustainable economy for Nevada where all residents have the opportunity to grow in prosperity and realize their financial goals. For more information about NNDA, call (775) 88304413 or visit

Reno-Tahoe, Virginia City to welcome German tour operators, travel writers for tourism-promoting visit


CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) and industry partners will host a Reno-Lake Tahoe German Ski Tour starting Wednesday for tour operators and travel journalists who will experience the area’s excellent skiing, dining, entertainment and hospitality, Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki announced today.

The week-long tour, March 17-24, will include five tour operators and four travel journalists for German publications and representatives from American Airlines and Aviareps, the company that promotes Nevada tourism in Germany for NCOT.

“There is no more effective way to promote Nevada as a choice ski destination than for those who influence travel choices to go skiing on Lake Tahoe’s beautiful slopes and enjoy fine dining, entertainment and lodging in exceptional resort hotels,” Krolicki, NCOT chair, said. “Tour operators and journalists will leave here much better equipped to bring in customers and inspire people to visit, which generates revenue for our tourism-driven economy.”

Lodging for the six-night visit will be hosted by the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Silver Legacy Resort Casino and Atlantis Resort Spa Casino in Reno and The Ridge at Stateline, Lake Tahoe. Skiing will be provided by Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA and Heavenly Mountain Resort, and the group will go snowmobiling at Zephyr Cove, tour the National Automobile Museum in Reno and step back in time at Virginia City with breakfast at the Victorian-style Cobb Mansion, sightseeing, visiting shops, saloons and museums and having lunch at the Red Dog Saloon.

“Our industry partners are participating with NCOT by hosting the German visitors for skiing, lodging, meals and entertainment, and American Airlines is flying the group to Reno-Tahoe International Airport at no charge,” NCOT Director Dann Lewis said. “This successful partnership makes it possible to accomplish these tours, which produce impressive travel stories and new tours.”

During the tour, the group will taste their favorite wines at the Grand Sierra’s Reserve and will be guests for dinner at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino’s elegant restaurant, Romanza; the MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa’s magnificent Ciera Steak and Chophouse, winner of the prestigious 2009 AAA Four Diamond Award; and the unique Bistro Napa at the Atlantis, winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Hosted dining also includes dinner with spectacular Lake Tahoe views at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel Casino’s Forest Buffet and a dine-around at the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Reno to experience a variety of dishes at all three resorts.

Germany is among five countries where NCOT has representative offices to promote tourism to the Silver State. The others are Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and China.

Rural Nevada communities receive tourism grants to promote local attractions


CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) has awarded 68 grants totaling more than $365,000 to help rural communities promote attractions that draw visitors and generate revenue for local economies.

“While the tourist attractions in our larger cities are certainly well known, our rural communities have many special treasures awaiting the visitors who travel across our state,” Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki, NCOT chair, said.  “The Rural Grant Program gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our rural attractions and NCOT is proud to play a part in that.”

NCOT awards grants twice a year to public entities such as visitor authorities, cities and chambers of commerce, and each grant must be matched in value with local funds or labor.

Examples of grants include:

  • $8,000 for the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority for its Tractors & Truffles event, an upscale food and arts event that capitalizes on the trend toward showcasing locally grown food, healthy eating, agricultural tourism and the arts and culture of rural Nevada.
  • $10,000 for the Virginia City Convention and Visitors Authority to conduct a media familiarization tour jointly with Elko and Ely. The tour will present the “Wild West” side of Nevada that extends beyond a single city or county.
  • $7,000 for the City of Carlin to purchase radio and television advertising in Reno, Idaho and Utah to promote its annual Carlin Car Show. Attendance to last year’s show exceeded 1,000 car enthusiasts and is expected to grow with increased advertising.
  • $5,000 for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California to promote its annual Wa She Shu It Deh Festival. The grant will pay for posters and print advertising in Nevada, California, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Arizona.
  • $6,000 for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to redesign and maintain the Pyramid Lake Web site.

“Grant recipients must match the funds either monetarily or in kind, and that guarantees an excellent commitment by the recipients to make the most of the money they receive,” NCOT Director Dann Lewis said. “We have a very dedicated network of tourism partners throughout the state, and they often donate their own time and money to improve the visitors’ experiences in their communities. The Rural Grants Program helps alleviate some of the burden, and in many cases, enables essential events and programs to continue.”

Requests for grants are meticulously reviewed by NCOT staff and an advisory board before being approved by the commission. This round of grants was approved at the December commission meeting. For more information on NCOT and the grant program, visit

Travel: Reno to Virginia City via back roads

Where Jumbo Grade turns of East Lake Road

If you live in, or are just visiting Reno, a trip to Virginia City is a must. Virginia City is one of the oldest towns in Nevada. It was at the center of gold and silver mining and the rich Comstock Lode in the late 1800s. At its height 23,000 people lived in Virginia City. Today the population is about 1,000. Although it is a tourist town it still feels like the old west and is a fun place to visit. If you take the main roads it is probably no more than an hour from Reno. But in the words of Doc Brown in the movie Back to the Future -  “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” My husband, Duke and I really enjoy exploring by taking old dirt roads.

Today with some friend we took the Jumbo Grade Trail and the Ophir Grade Trail to Virginia City. We came home on the Old Geiger Grade Toll Road. All of these roads are rough dirt roads and  four wheel drive and high clearance are definitely necessary to drive on them. We had a great time. Ed, our leader, and his wife had done the trip before using the book Nevada Trails – Western Region as a guide.

We left the paved roads about 4 miles south of highway 395 near New Washoe City. You can see where we left the pavement and the road we started up on in this picture.

Where Jumbo Grade turns of East Lake Road

In this next picture I am looking west across Washoe Valley. You can see the remains of a giant landslide described in an article titled Catastrophic rockfalls and rock slides in the Sierra Nevada, USA by Gerald F. Wieczorek

“At about noon on May 30, 1983, a large complex rock and soil slide detached from the southeast face of Slide Mountain, Nevada…… Subsequently, along the northeastern margin of the rockslump zone, a rapidly moving rockfall avalanche of large boulders and a debris avalanche of gravelly sand initiated and entered the northern end of Upper Price Lake, a small reservoir….Price Lake, displaced most of the lake water, which overtopped and breached a low dam. The water then breached the dam of Lower Price Lake and sent a torrent down the gorge of Ophir Creek. In the steep canyon the rapidly moving water picked up fine and coarse rocky debris. Emerging from the canyon 6 km downstream, the debris flow spread out and deposited over the alluvial fan of Ophir Creek in the Washoe Valley, destroying and damaging houses, causing one fatality, and covering old U.S. Highway 395.”

Slide Mountain

Further along the road we had a wonderful view of Carson City, Nevada’s capital.

Carson City

Here are a couple more pictures of us and the road. It was a cool, overcast, beautiful day.


The Group

After lots of rocks, ruts, and stops for pictures we eventually got to Virginia City.

Virginia City

Virginia City C Street

Virginia City has a very large Catholic Church. Some guys were in a basket at the end of a very tall cherry picker repairing the steeple. It is not a job I would want to do!

Men working on Steeple

We had a barbecue lunch at Virginia City Jerky and Smokehouse. My spicy pulled pork had a wonderful smoky flavor and was some of the best I have ever eaten.

Virginia City Smokehouse

After leaving Virginia City we headed down on the old Geiger Grade toll road. The Online Nevada Encyclopedia describes the road:

opened completely in 1863 with several toll stations. Its sharp descent, including hairpin turns and steep slopes, made it impractical for heavy loads, but it was a popular route for stagecoaches. Because drivers had to slow in some places, these became favorite locations for robberies."

Even now it is a very steep and in places very narrow road. It is hard to imagine driving a stagecoach up that road or for that matter riding in one.

Experience historic Virginia City and the Comstock Lode at UNR exhibit



pipersThe Comstock Lode and Virginia City in its heyday still fascinates us today. When you look at items of the time – posters from Piper’s Opera House, photos of the lively saloons, Mark Twain’s articles in the Territorial Enterprise – you begin to imagine what it would have been like to have lived there, and perhaps even wish you could travel back and be part of it all, if only for a few days.

With this being the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, and Nevada celebrating its 145th birthday this month, the University of Nevada, Reno is inviting Nevadans to do just that. The University is providing a unique opportunity to take an up-close-and-personal look at such items and get lost in the era at a special exhibit in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center titled, “Rush to Washoe: The Rise of the Comstock.” The exhibit’s curator is Jacque Sundstrand, the special collections manuscripts librarian.

The exhibit opens Oct. 5 and will feature many items from the monumental gold and silver mining strike, one of the richest in the world, including Mackay silver, maps of mining claims, stock certificates, mining company records, letters from miners and even the world’s oldest Tabasco bottle.

“These are primary materials,” stated Donnelyn Curtis, head of the University library’s Special Collections. “They are the voices and belongings of the people who were there.”

But, Curtis pointed out that, although it was the miners who produced the hundreds of millions of dollars of silver and gold over the 20-year history of the strike, others were also attracted to the bustling city.

“It became a Mecca for writers, artists and theater people of the time,” Curtis explained. “And, it was a true melting pot of the West, attracting immigrants from around the world – Chinese, Italian, Irish, Basque and others.”

The University’s exhibit also includes cultural and artistic items, such as Nevada’s earliest theater poster printed on silk, drawings, photographs and writings from the colorful Comstock authors, collectively known today as “The Sagebrush School.” Dan De Quille was an editor of the Territorial Enterprise and wrote The Big Bonanza, the classic account of the Comstock. But, many people don’t know that De Quill was also a classically trained artist. His only known painting was recently acquired by the University and will also be on display.

Wednesday Evening “Comstock Conversations”

In addition, at 7 p.m. each Wednesday in October, the University will present “Comstock Conversations,” with noted local experts discussing various aspects of the era. On Oct. 7, Ron James, Nevada State Historic Preservation officer, will present “Bonanza! How Virginia City Has Touched the World for 150 Years,” showing the far-reaching impact of the Comstock.

On Oct. 14, Don Hardesty, Nevada professor of anthropology, will present “Mark Twain’s Comstock: the Archaeology of Early Virginia City,” shedding light on saloons, opera houses and ethnic groups during the era. He will be joined by Patty Cafferata, attorney and author of More than a Song and a Dance: The Heyday of Piper’s Opera House. Cafferata will present, “Behind the Scenes at Piper’s Opera House,” discussing the three Piper’s Opera House buildings and the entertainment presented in each.

On Oct. 21, Cheryll Glotfelty, Nevada associate professor of English, will present “The Comstock’s Literary Mother Lode,” discussing the rich literary work of the era’s “Sagebrush School” of engaging authors, including Twain, De Quille and others.

The Oct. 28 presentation will actually be a readers’ theater adaptation of a futuristic play of the era, The Psychoscope, which featured a frank depiction of a brothel that made the play very controversial at the time. Even in freewheeling Virginia City, the play only ran for one week. And, it is known to have been presented only two other times: in 1949 at the University during Mackay Days, and in 2004 at the Western Literature Association’s Conference. University faculty members David Fenimore and Ann Medaille will direct the dramatic reading.

The Oct. 28 performance will be in the Knowledge Center’s Wells Fargo Auditorium on the First Floor. All other Wednesday presentations will be in the Faculty & Graduate Reading Room on the Fourth Floor.

The exhibits will be on display through February in the Whittemore Gallery on the First Floor, and the Special Collections area on the Third Floor. The Nevada State Historic Preservation Office and the W.M. Keck Museum has loaned the University some special artifacts for the exhibits, and there are some special 3D images of the Comstock on view, courtesy of Howard Goldbaum, Nevada associate professor of Journalism.

All exhibits and presentations are free and open to the public. Complimentary parking is available in the Brian Whalen Garage. Go to or call 775-682-5665 for exhibit hours or more information.

V&T, rebuilt after 71 years, rides again

V&T #29 arriving in Virginia City

Nevada Tourism news release
By Chris Chrystal

V&T #29 arriving in Virginia City

V&T #29 arriving in Virginia City

Northwestern Nevada has a major new attraction with the long-awaited opening of the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad, rebuilt 71 years after being shut down. The railroad is now carrying passengers between the famous mining town of Virginia City and the state capital, Carson City.

Rides began Aug. 15 and will run Saturdays through Oct. 31, offering an opportunity to step back in time and experience rail travel as it was a century ago aboard vintage cars pulled by a steam engine. The newly rebuilt railroad, known as the V&T, carries passengers one way or round trip, chugging across 18.3 miles of mountainous high desert landscape. Watch for the legendary wild horses that roam the mountains and catch a glimpse of 19th century cemeteries and abandoned stamp mills that once crushed gold and silver ore.

One-way rides leave Virginia City at 8 a.m. and Carson City at 4:30 p.m. The ride takes one hour going “downhill” from Virginia City to Carson City and about 1½ hours “uphill” from Carson City to Virginia City. Round trip passengers depart from the Carson City depot at 10 a.m. and arrive in Virginia City at 11:30 a.m., where they have 3 1/2 hours to explore the place known as the “richest city in the world” during the gold mining era 150 years ago. The train pulls out of Virginia City’s F Street Station at 3 p.m. and arrives in Carson City at 4 p.m.

Plenty of lodging is available in both cities, and parking is free at both train stations. What to do? Walkable Virginia City features wooden sidewalks lined with 19th century brick buildings that house museums, saloons, restaurants, cafes and shops that sell gifts, souvenirs, turquoise jewelry, ice cream, candy and pizza. If you hear the sound of gunfire in the street, it’s just Virginia City’s cadre of costumed Wild West characters staging a “shootout” for your amusement. The aura of bygone days is captured in mine tours, hillside cemeteries with iron-fenced plots and marble tombstones bearing soulful messages and mansions that display traces of the “Silver Baron’s” elegant lifestyles during the city’s heyday.

Carson City offers tours of the Nevada State Capitol, the Nevada State Museum and Mint that includes a walk-in mine shaft and ghost town, the Nevada State Railroad Museum where visitors can see vintage engines and ride a steam train around the grounds, The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, the Foreman-Roberts House Museum, Nevada State Library and Archives, the Stewart Indian School Campus, Cultural Center and Walking Tour, the Warren Engine Company No. 1 Museum and many fine restaurants, antique shops and casino entertainment.

The final train ride of the season, Oct. 31, coincides with the annual Nevada Day Parade and celebration of admission to statehood in Carson City.

The Carson City depot is just off U.S. Highway 50 on the eastern edge of town. (Turn south onto Flint Drive and east onto Eastgate.) Tickets are available at or by calling 1-800-NEVADA-1 (638-2321). Prices are $29 one way for adults, $23 for children and $25 for seniors. Round trip prices are $48 for adults and $36 for children.

The original V&T Railroad was built in 1869 to carry gold and silver ore, lumber, steel and other supplies and passengers to Carson City, Reno and the Carson Valley. The last Virginia City-Carson City run was in 1938. In 1950, all runs ended and the tracks were dismantled. But Bob Gray reconstructed the V&T in 1974 in Virginia City and in 1980 began to run excursion trains two miles to Gold Hill. The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T rebuilt the remaining 16.7-mile route from Gold Hill to Carson City starting in 2005.

Fuels Reduction in the Virginia City Highlands

The Nevada Fire Safe Council, Resource Concepts, Inc., Storey County Fire Department and the Nevada Division of Forestry are collaborating on fuels reduction in the Virginia City Highlands outside of Reno. Pat Murphy from the Fire Safe Council discusses the project and the work being done.