Western Trips

Friday, August 29, 2014

See These Carson City Nevada Historic Sites

There's a lot of fun and educational things to do in Carson City Nevada for travelers young and old. Museum's, including the Nevada State Museum and the Nevada State Railroad Museum, historic buildings and houses and unique shops and restaurants are all part of the Carson City experience.

nevada state Museum
Carson City is the state capital of Nevada and a city that has plenty of interesting history. Just driving through town and taking in some of the historic sites tells you so much about the early western days of Nevada.

The first Europeans to travel through the area, then known as Eagle Valley, were John C. Fremont in 1843. Fremont named the river through the valley the "Carson River" in honor of his scout Kit Carson. The natives of the area were the Washoe people.

The first structure in the area was a trading post in 1851. The trading post was also a stopover for emigrants on the California Trail's Carson Branch. The trading post was bought by a man named Abraham Curry in 1858 and he named the settlement Carson City. Carson City was named after the famous mountain man, Christopher Kit Carson.

Attractions in Carson City include the old U.S. Mint building. The old U.S. Mint  is all about the great silver mining and the famous Comstock Lode. Add to that the Orion Clemens House, built in 1862/63. Orion Clemens was the brother of Samuel Clemens, better known perhaps as Mark Twain. Both Clemens brothers traveled to Nevada from Missouri by stage coach. Orion served as the first and only Territorial Secretary of Nevada and his brother worked as a reporter for Nevada's first newspaper in Virginia City. Another quite historic building you'll want to see is the old St. Charles-Muller Hotel. This hotel was built in 1862 during Nevada's mining heyday and is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Carson City.

carson city mint
The old Carson City U.S. Mint
The Old U.S. Mint

Congress passed the act creating a U.S. Mint in Carson City Nevada in 1863 and the building was actually constructed three years later. It was three years after that that coining machinery arrived to allow the mint to create coinage.

The Carson City U.S. Mint produced coins from 1870 to 1885 and again from 1889 to 1893. When the mint ceased operations in 1893 it's machinery wasn't removed for about six years later. Press Number 1 has an interesting story attached to it. After being removed from Carson City the press was moved to the Philadelphia Mint. In 1930 old Press Number 1 was changed to use electric power rather than steam.

After a time in Philadelphia the press was shipped across the country to the San Francisco Mint. hen that mint stopped stamping coins in 1955 the press was scheduled to be scrapped. A Nevada judge and citizens of Carson City purchased the press in 1958 and it was shipped back to Carson City. In the mid 1960's there as a coin shortage and the old Carson City Press No 1 was loaned out to the Denver Mint. Finally the press arrived back at Carson City Nevada in 1967. This may certainly have been the longest journey of any coinage press ever.

Today, the coin press is being operated at the Nevada State Museum by volunteers. The Nevada State Museum makes an excellent stop on your next visit to the Carson City/ Reno area. The museum and old U.S. Mint building is located at 600 N. Carson St., Carson City, Nevada. This is four blocks north of the State Capitol.

clemens house carson city nevada
The old Orion Clemens House
 Orion Clemens House

Among other Carson City attractions is the old Orion Clemens House. As mentioned above, both Orion Clemens and his brother Samuel Clemens traveled to Nevada in the summer of 1861. It was a tough journey from Missouri by stage coach and Samuel Clemens would later write about the stage coach adventure in his book, Roughing It.

After supporting Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election, Orion, a lawyer, was offered the job as the new Nevada Territory's first Secretary. This was the purpose of the trip and the reason that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) headed west from Missouri. Orion Clemens served in that position from 1861 to 1864. Orion built his house in 1862 and his brother Samuel Clemens often visited this house.

The Orion Clemens House is located at 502 N. Division St. in Carson City. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

You may also enjoy our Western Trips and Trips Into History articles on the links below...

A Visit to Historic Truckee California in the Sierra Nevada

The Gatekeeper's Museum and Beautiful Tahoe City California

They Called It Hangtown For Good Reason

An excellent book to learn more about the colorful history of Carson City Nevada is...A Short History of Carson City by author Richard Moreno.

 st charles hotel carson city nevada
Walkway in front of the St. Charles-Muller Hotel
The St. Charles-Muller Hotel

The St. Charles-Muller Hotel is located at 302-304-310 S. Carson St. in Carson City. The hotel was constructed in 1862, the same year that Orion Clemens built his house, and is one of the oldest buildings in today's Carson City, Nevada. The hotel also has the distinction of being the second oldest hotel in Nevada. The hotel actually consists of two buildings. A two-story building is on the south and a three-story on the north side. The Muller Hotel was on the south side which catered to working class clientele. The St. Charles on the north catered to members of the second Territorial Session of the Nevada legislature.

The Italianate detailed hotel became the main stagecoach stop in Carson City. In fact, the hotel's owners set it up as the first stop the stagecoach would make in Carson City. Over the years since it's construction in 1862 the hotel has been known by several different names including the Pony Express Hotel.  

 carson city historic hotels
Historic St. Charles-Muller Hotel
Today, the old St. Charles-Muller Hotel has a restaurant on it's first floor. As of this writing, the top floors are still rented out as hotel rooms. 

Visitors to Carson City Nevada can enjoy learning about the historic past of this city which came to be and grew because of the western migration of the mid 1800's and the mining prospectors who crowded the area due to "silver fever". 

Carson City Nevada is located about 30 miles south of Reno, 27 miles northeast of the south shore of Lake Tahoe and about a 130 mile drive east of Sacramento California. 

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Visit Truckee California and It's Historic Hotel

The name for the town of Truckee California was in honor of a Paiute Indian chief of that name who helped guide thousands of emigrants in their westward journey through 40-Mile Desert. The Forty Mile Desert is a California Gold Rush name for Nevada's Lahontan Valley. The actual story is that the chief's name sounded like "Tro-kay" to the white men and they dubbed him "Truckee".

truckee california hotel
The Truckee Hotel
Today's Truckee California, the charming and historic town in the high Sierra Nevada, had it's beginning connected with the building of the transcontinental railroad. In the year 1868, the the western end of the rail yard was constructed as rail track was laid east along the Truckee River towards Nevada and a16-stall roundhouse was constructed.

With the transcontinental railroad completed, Truckee rose to be an important rail operations and maintenance town. The town's railroad station is located right in the center of Truckee's Historic District on East River Street. Truckee's history has been preserved in it's historic buildings all along the historic district. Some of these buildings have been around for well over a century.

The Truckee Hotel / A Long History

The town of Truckee California has a fascinating history. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Truckee is known for the emigrants traveling westward to California. It's history also includes logging and the tragic story of the stranded Donner Party. History tells us that the first wagon party to successfully cross the Sierra's was the Stephen's Party. The party consisted of ten families who crossed Donner Pass in 1844.

the truckee hotel
The Truckee Hotel
The Truckee Hotel was built in 1873, about four years after the opening of the transcontinental railroad, and is located across the street from the rail tracks. First named the American House,  the history of today's Truckee Hotel has all to do with a gentleman named Stewart McKay.

Stewart McKay, born in Nova Scotia, arrived in Truckee California in 1873 and owned and operated what was called the Whitney House which later became the Truckee Hotel.McKay was also a sawmill owner and developer who created an 80 acre summer camp for visitors on the west end of beautiful Donner Lake.

The old Truckee Hotel was once a stage stop on the Dutch Flat Wagon Road. This was a wagon road which began in the 1860's and crossed Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevadas. The wagon road was wide enough for two teams to pass without difficulty. Historians may note that this wagon road became a part of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile road over Donner Summit.

truckee ca historic district
Truckee CA Historic District
The Modern Growth of the  Truckee-lake Tahoe Area

Truckee experienced good growth from the beginning of the transcontinental railroad line into the 1900's and through the 1920's.

By 1915, Truckee became a favorite area for winter sports, featuring a huge ice palace for ice-skating and dancing, a toboggan slide and ski jump. The Truckee Ski Club was formed and its members participated in many competitions. Special excursion trains brought thousands of visitors to the area to enjoy the fresh air and to frolic in the snow. The movie industry brought crews to the area to film winter scenes. Famous movie actors became a familiar site on the streets of Truckee.

After the 1920's came the Great Depression. Truckee began a thirty year span of little growth and development especially during and after World War ll. Everything changed for the better in 1960.  Winter Olympic games were held ten miles to the south of Truckee at Squaw Valley. This catapulted the  Truckee-Tahoe area as a major destination resort for year-round recreation. Today, tourism is Truckee California's  number one industry.

See our Western Trips articles on the links below... 

A Visit to Nevada City California 

Things To Do in Grass Valley Califoria

See These Carson City Nevada Historic Sites

Two excellent books regarding Truckee California and the Donner Pass area include....To Truckee's Trail by author Celia Hayes and Donner Pass: Southern Pacific's Sierra Crossing by John R. Signor.

Visit Truckee California and the Truckee Hotel 

If you're looking for an historic hotel with old west charm, you might want to add the Truckee Hotel to your vacation planner.

The Truckee Hotel is centrally located to many North Lake Tahoe ski areas such as Squaw Valley, site of the 1960's Winter Olympics, as well as Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Tahoe Donner, Royal Gorge and more. The Truckee Hotel address is 10007 Bridge Street, just east of the train depot.

old truckee jail
Old Jail Museum
Any season of the year there's plenty of attractions in Truckee California. The beauty of the mountains and nearby Donner Lake offer outstanding photo opportunities. River raft on the Truckee River, ski at the nearby world class resorts, hike the many trails around Truckee which fit all skill levels. Experiencing the old west history of Truckee, it's old historic buildings and it's unique shopping and dining are all popular with tourists year round.

When you visit Truckee you may want to make a stop at the Old Jail Museum which is operated by the Truckee Donner Historical Society.  The Old Truckee Jail is located one block north of the historic district.

Truckee is located close to Reno Nevada via Interstate 80 and to the towns and cities of North lake Tahoe. Truckee, California is located 100 miles east of Sacramento and about 32 miles west of  Reno, Nevada. Whether your travels take you to Truckee and the surrounding area for a day trip or an extended vacation, you'll likely be in for a great time.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)


amtrak in truckee

truckee railroad

downtown truckee photos

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Visit Historic Littlefield Texas

Littlefield, Texas is located about 36 miles northwest of Lubbock and about 65 miles southeast of Clovis, New Mexico.

tallest windmill
Tallest Windmill, Littlefield, Texas
n the year 1830 the land where Littlefield, Texas now resides was explored by a Major Long of the U.S. Army and his troops. Major Long didn't have many good things to say in his report and essentially called the land bad for cultivation. At that time this area of west Texas was inhabited by Indians, mostly Comanche, along with the bison.

 The Texas frontier at that time was far east of this area, about in a line from present day Dallas to San Antonio. That line would have been the extreme western end of the Texas frontier and Indian raids on settlers along that line was not unusual.

The XIT Ranch Days

Where Littlefield Texas is located was during the latter part of the 1800's and very early 1900's was part of the historic XIT ranch. The XIT Ranch was historic for a few reasons. The ranch comprised a bit over 3 million acres that spanned from the northern reaches of the Texas Panhandle all the way southward for about 200 miles. This was at that time the largest cattle ranch in Texas and the world. The land was purchased for .50 cents per acre by a syndicate from the State of Texas and the money raised was used to build the Texas State Capital Building, the same capital building that is in Austin, Texas today.

waylon jennings memorialEnter George W.  Littlefield

After 1900 the XIT Ranch syndicate began selling off it's land holdings to pay back debt to their bond holders. By that time barbed wire had fenced in what was once the open prairie and the days and massive ranches were selling off land. In 1901 George W. Littlefield, an Austin, Texas banker, cattleman and regent of the University of Texas purchased 312,000 acres for a price of $2.00 per acre. This acreage became Littlefield's Yellow House Ranch. Cattle was also purchased from the XIT syndicate.

When it became apparent that the railroad would build through his land he put tracts up for sale which eventually became a town. For a depot to be built the railroad stipulated that all main streets in the the proposed town would lead to the depot. As a result of this, the main streets in Littlefield run northeast to southwest where you would normally see such streets flowing east and west.

xit ranch photos
Attractions in Littlefield Texas 

 Waylon Jennings, the country music star who popularized the "outlaw county music" genre, was born in Littlefield, Texas in 1937. Among other notable groups Jennings performed with during his long career, he played for a time with Buddy Holly's Crickets band. Holly was from Lubbock Texas, just down the road from Littlefield.

A Waylon Jennings Museum was opened by his younger brother a few years after the singers death. What you'll look for his a business named Waymore's, a drive-thru liquor store converted from an old gas station. Here you'll find Waylon Jennings memorabilia and artifacts, Waylon's first guitar, plenty of photos and posters, plus more. Waymore's is located near the center of Littlefield at the corner of Waylon Jennings and Hall Ave.

See more Western Trips articles on the links below...

Historic Palo Duro Canyon Texas

Post Texas / The Building of a Model Town 

The West Texas Town and the White Buffalo

The Tallest Windmill Replica

Littlefield Texas had a 132 foot tall windmill built in 1887 on XIT ranchland. Unfortunately this very tall windmill, the world's largest, was made from wood and blew down in 1926. The replica windmill on it's site is 114 feet tall and is made out of steel. You can easily see this historic attraction at U.S. 84 and XIT Ave.

littlefield museum
Littlefield Land/ Duggan House Museum
The Littlefield Lands/ Duggan House Museum

The Duggan House, built in 1913 and known as the Littlefield Lands/ Duggan House Museum located at 520 E. Waylon Jennings Blvd, was at one time a one room lean-to residence for the Arthur P. Duggan family. The house had several additions built and sits among large trees and a multitude of plants.

Arthur Duggan as a nephew of Major George Littlefield and was the major's land agent when Littlefield began settling the area. The museum coordinates with schools and other educational facilities to provide quality local historical information to all educational levels. New items of significant historical interest are constantly being added to our collection. The museum serves as a center of activity for the community, encouraging all residents, business owners, club members, and others to utilize the museum for community activities.

littlefield texas photo
Littlefield, Texas
The museum contains a "radio room" which has memorabilia from the city's radio station. This is the station where a young Waylon Jennings worked as a disc jockey. The museum plays Waylon Jennings' hits all day and dedicated one room to their beloved hometown hero.Also exhibited are artifacts and memorabilia of early Littlefield.

If your Texas travels take you to the west part of the state up toward the Texas Panhandle you'll want to make a stop at Littlefield and view some of the historic sites and make a visit to the Littlefield Lands/ Duggan House Museum. 

The town of Littlefield is an excellent example of how a settlement was established in the early 1900's from west  Texas ranch land.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Post Texas / The Building of a Model Town

historic texas buildings
Old hotel on the left built by C.W. Post
Post Texas
is located south of Lubbock Texas at the intersection of U.S. Hwys 380 & 84. The story about how Post Texas came to be is quite a unique one. The town was founded in 1907 as Post City, a project taken on by C. W. Post, the American industrialist and cereal maker. Post Texas is located on the edge of the caprock escarpment of the Llano Estacado, thirty miles south of Lubbock. 

Post made the decision to move to west Texas on the advice of his physician. Charles William Post was suffering from general poor health and he and his family's move from the midwest to the drier west Texas climate was hoped to provide relief from his ailments.

Innovative Ideas and C.W. Post

C.W. Post was not an ordinary gentleman. In fact, he was known to be peculiar. He was known to have  large mood swings and spent time in and out of various sanitariums.It was when C.W. Post spent some time in a Grand Rapids, Michigan sanitarium that he met up with a Dr. Kellogg who years later would become a chief competitor of Post cereals.

The Building of a Model Town

C.W. Post's project was to build a model town. You could call it a utopian venture. It was a project of building a new town from scratch and colonizing it. Post, who had earned a fortune as a cereal manufacturer after being an agricultural equipment inventor,, purchased 200,000 acres in west Texas and turned over construction duties to his Double U Company.

Building the model town of Post City included planting trees on all streets along with prohibiting alcohol and brothels. Within the first few years the construction included building houses, a church, a department store, a school, a hotel and a bank. Surrounding homes and ranches were either sold or leased to settlers.

Garza County Texas was founded in 1876 but went without county government for thirty years. The town of Post was organized on July 8, 1907, and named for the pioneer Garza family. Post City sprang up the same year as the county's organization and became the county seat.

Post was designated an official Texas Main Street City in 1987 by the Texas Historical Commission and is located just 36 miles from Lubbock, Texas.

hotel garza
Hotel Garza B & B
C.W. Post The Rainmaker

West Texas can be problematic when it comes to rainfall. Post, who had the reputation as a somewhat far out thinker, thought he could make the west Texas clouds pour out rain. Having heard the story reported from American Civil War veterans that intense cannon fire caused rain,decided to have a try. Post's first rain experiment was to attache dynamite to a kite and detonate the explosives at a certain height. This was afterwards determined much too dangerous.

The second experiment to bring rain consisted of placing bundles of dynamite about fifty feet apart on the high parts of the Caprock and set off at intervals.

The third experiment actually was said by some to have obtained good results. This was blasting away with 24,000 lbs of dynamite. The result was a rainfall. Post's experiment as a rainmaker lasted until 1913, about one year before his death. He spent a fortune on these experiments and claimed that he directly caused seven different rainfall events. Those who doubted the success of these rainmaking experiments pointed out that they occurred when storms naturally developed in that part of Texas. Perhaps C.W. Post really did produce rain.

post texas history
Things to See and Do in Post Texas

The Garza County Historical Museum

The Garza County Historical Museum is in the building that C.W. Post constructed as the Post Sanitarium in 1911.  The address is 119 North Ave. N.Declared a Texas Historical Landmark in 1964, the building became the Mason Memorial Building and was given to the county in 1967.

Hotel Garza Bed & Breakfast

This bed and breakfast located in the heart of Post will take you back to the to the early 1900's. This fine bed and breakfast hotel offers first class overnight accommodations, scrumptious home cooking every morning and true West Texas hospitality. The address is 302 East Main Street.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

An Historic Harvey House B & B in Slaton Texas

A Visit to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock Texas

The West Texas Town and the White Buffalo

Two good reads regarding C.W. Post include the pamphlet...Dr. J. H. Kellogg And C. W. Post by author Elbert Hubbard and Post City, Texas: C.W. Post's Colonizing Activities in West Texas by authors Charles Dudley Eaves and C. Alan Hutchinson.

Algerita Arts Center Building

1920's texas
Scene in Post Texas from the 1920's
The Algerita Arts Center is the home of Visual Arts in Post. The building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. This structure  was built in 1907 by founder C. W. Post as a hotel to accommodate prospective customers of farms, business and city properties. The first floor of the building shown on in the photo at the top of this article now houses a gallery for local and regional art and is run by the Post Art Guild. The address is 131 East Main Street.

If you're traveling to West Texas and particularly in the Lubbock area, you'll certainly want to add a stop at Post Texas to your vacation planner. Post Texas has a rich history and quite a unique one. Visit the Garza County Historical Museum and view some of the remaining structures from the days that C.W. Post built his model town. This is another one of the unique travel stops to enjoy while touring the Lone Star State. 

the first floor is now home to a gallery for local and regional art operated by teh Post Art Guild - See more at: http://texasplainstrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/algerita-art-center#sthash.xcwT3vkr.dpufThe OS Ranch MuseumThe OS Ranch Foundation was created by Giles C. McCrary and family. The museum was built to house the art and artifact collection they have gathered around the world. The gallery is located in the room that was designed as the meeting room for the community in the building C.W. Post built in 1911 to house the offices of his Land and Cattle Company.  The address is 127 East Main Street.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips. Photo of 1920's Post Texas courtesy of Texas Coop Power Magazine)