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University honors Manzanita Lake’s centennial anniversary

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Manzanita Lake, celebrating 100 years on the University of Nevada, Reno campus this November, has always been a recreational place for students throughout the seasons, as seen in this 1979 photo of a student ice skating on the frozen lake.

Special Collections presents exhibit in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center in honor of the historical landmark

One of the University of Nevada, Reno’s most iconic landmarks, Manzanita Lake, celebrates its centennial anniversary this month. An exhibit presented by the University’s Special Collections Department on the second floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, showcases photos, a timeline of significant moments in the lake’s history throughout the last 100 years, and commentaries that capture the many attributes of the lake.

“Manzanita Lake is arguably the most beautiful landmark on the University of Nevada, Reno campus,” said Betty Glass, Special Collections librarian. “Generations of University students, faculty and staff have enjoyed using the lake or staging campus events along its shores.”

Manzanita Lake has played an important part in the University’s history. Recent University alumnus Douglas Boedenauer researched an extensive history of the lake and its significance to the campus.

According to Boedenauer’s research, the lake was created when the Orr Irrigation Ditch, an agricultural waterway that pre-dated the University of Nevada, was dammed. The filling of the ditch was made possible by financial assistance from Clarence Mackay, son of Nevada legend, John Mackay. Mackay Day was established to honor the University’s benefactor John Mackay and has since become its own campus tradition.

“Through the years, Mackay Day has staged a variety of events at Manzanita Lake, including a tug-of-war contest between freshmen and sophomores, swimming contests, inner-tube races, raft races and log-rolling contests,” Glass said.

Bowen Drewes, a 2008 University alumnus, said, “I have fond memories of the lake; I remember sliding ice chunks off as far as I could across the frozen surface in winter, and wondering why the little island seems to be made out of concrete pipes. I remember enjoying the sunshine on the banks and watching the swans when they chased the ducks and the geese away from their cygnets.”

Manzanita Lake has served as a serene home to many swans, which are iconic figureheads for the lake, on and off since the 1930s.

“I’m from Lake Tahoe and am used to seeing plenty of nature all around me and whenever I walk by the south side of campus, I always say, ‘time to see the swans,’” said University transfer student Nicole Tran. “It’s become one of the things I look forward to doing on a daily basis.

The Manzanita Lake exhibition is open through February 2012 and exhibit hours vary per the Knowledge Center schedule. All items on display are archived by University Special Collections. For more information, visit the Special Collections website or contact Betty Glass at [email protected] or call 775-682-5668.

The Special Collections and University Archives Department houses, preserves and provides access to unique, specialized and historically significant resources in a variety of formats to support research, teaching and learning at the University of Nevada, Reno. Other researchers and members of the public are welcome to use Special Collections and University Archives materials. Most of the materials in Special Collections pertain to the history and cultures of Nevada and the Great Basin. University Archives preserves the history of the university in documents, photographs, books, and memorabilia.

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students and is ranked in the top tier of the nation’s best universities. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University has the system’s largest research program and is home to the state’s medical school. With outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties and with one of the nation’s largest study-abroad consortiums, the University extends across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.

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