NHS Artown Virtual Talks – July 2020

The Nevada Historical Society (NHS) has actively participated in Artown since 2014, with NHS Docents offering gallery tours and history presentations twice a day every Wednesday in July. So, you may ask, What about the COVID-19 pandemic with everything closed and/or social distancing and masks required?

Washoe County Library System has come to the rescue and NHS history presentations will take place virtually every Monday morning at 10:30 am and every Monday afternoon at 1:00 pm.

We offer a variety of talks, each with different speakers over the month of Artown. Check the Artown website for details. We hope to whet your appetite for Nevada History! Presentations are free and open to the public.

Don’t forget to register for these wonderful talks!!

The links below direct you to the main pages for both organizations…find the talk that’s right for you.

Washoe County Library July Calendar.      Artown History Talks Calendar

Schedule of Talks

Monday, July 6th
10:30 AM — Before Reno and Sparks: Early Communities in Truckee Meadows
1:00 PM — Gambling — It’s Older Than You Think

Monday, July 13th
10:30 AM — Mining Now and Then
1:00 PM — Gaming as a Microcosm of American History, a Look at Gaming Artifacts

Monday, July 20th
10:30 AM — Early Reno
1:00 PM — Washoe County

Monday, July 27
10:30 AM — Nevada’s First Senator: William M. Stewart
1:00 PM — Early Reno

Brief write ups of talks

Before Reno & Sparks – Betsy Morse
Before Reno and Sparks: Early Communities in the Truckee Meadows
Early settlers in the Truckee Meadows knew nothing of Reno or Sparks. Instead, they lived in communities like Eastman Mill and Brown’s Crossing – villages whose names no longer appear on modern maps. This talk offers a quick look at some of these forgotten places.

Gambling, It’s Older Than You Think – Marc Ullom
People have participated in forms of gambling for millennia, even Ancient Egyptians played games they made wagers on. This talk will discuss the background and history of gambling across cultures and continents to give audience members a more thorough understanding of the interactions of gambling and humans across time and space.

Mining Then and Now – Sam Macaluso
Mining activities in Nevada predated the Comstock by many centuries. Deposits of obsidian, opalite, chalcedony, agate, jasper, and quartz occur throughout the state and were utilized by the early inhabitants of Nevada to fashion arrowheads, spear points, and various cutting and scraping tools. “Clovis points” found near Tonopah and Beatty and in Washoe Valley are believed to be made 10,000 or more years ago. Much later, about 300 A.D. to 500 A.D. the Anasazi mined turquoise near Boulder City, and mined salt deposits near St. Thomas, now covered by the waters of Lake Mead in Clark County.

In 1850, John Orr was panning in Gold Creek near the present town of Dayton when he found a gold nugget weighing 19.4 grams. From this find, miners began working their way up Gold Creek to its source at Mt. Davidson. A few prospectors found some gold, but most cursed the bluish clay that plagued their pans and sluice boxes. When the bluish clay was assayed and found to be rich in silver the “Rush To Washoe” was on and a new era of mining began. July 1859 is the date given the discovery of the fabled Comstock Lode that helped create Nevada’s legacy.

Mining in Nevada has changed greatly in the last 159 years. Gone is the old prospector with his trusty burro scouring the hills looking for his El Dorado. Open pit mining is the more common avenue for the mines. The use of cyanide which can extract much more gold and silver that mercury ever could. It is safer to use and has greatly enhanced production. Operators now use drones to survey, monstrous trucks to haul and T-Rex size power shovels to chomp into the ground.

Gaming as a Microcosm of American History – Marc Ullom
The material culture of gaming can tell us more than one might think. This talk will look at gaming artifacts and manufacturers of gaming paraphernalia over the years. It will discuss how the process of making gaming pieces reflects American history. For example, what substances were gaming tokens made from, metals, plastic or a combination of the two? Does this reflect what products were most readily available during that era? Where were the pieces being manufactured at what periods of time and why? What type of art is depicted on the gaming chips? In the past, there were scantily clad women on many gaming and casino material objects, modernly this has changed which reflects changes in American society.

Washoe County – Joyce Cox
Washoe County was a crossroads for miners seeking riches in the California Gold Rush and later in the neighboring Comstock Lode. Occupied by the Wassau (or Washoe) and Paiute Indians, Washoe County was explored by John Bidwell in 1841 and John C. Fremont in 1844. Settlers began to arrive in the area claimed by Utah Territory in 1852, and it became part of Carson County in the Nevada Territory in 1854. Washoe County became one of the original nine counties in the Nevada Territory in 1861 and expanded to its current size with the addition of Lake or Roop County land in 1864.

Nevada’s First Senator – Senator William M. Stewart – Lorraine Petersen
From poverty to making and losing fortunes, he never lost his thirst for knowledge and his interest in Nevada’s growth.  Starting in 1859, William M. Stewart led the battle for Nevada statehood. Known as the Father of American Mining Law and author of the 15th Constitutional Amendment, Stewart brought international recognition to our young state and his death was noted throughout the United States and in foreign nations.

Early Reno – Pam Walker and Linda Burke
The Reno Story makes use of Nevada Historical Society archived photos of Reno businesses, schools, churches, hospitals and other significant elements of life in Reno starting in 1868. Hear about the early railroad coming to Reno, the mining booms, making gambling illegal in 1910 and legal again in 1931, Reno as Sin City with gaming, divorce and uncomplicated weddings, and Reno as the biggest town in Nevada from 1887 through 1950.