Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Naming Reno, Nevada

From: "SW Kolterman" sw.kolterman@att.net

[Is it true as stated in Nothing Like it in the World, by Stephen Ambrose] that Charles Crocker named 'Reno' by pulling the name out of hat? I'm researching Myron Lake, Reno's founder, and I'd like to nail this down or not. …

—Steve Kolterman, Reno, Nevada


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

While I can't speak to the naming of Reno specifically (others likely can), we do know that Ambrose's book is so full of glaring errors and fabrications that it is a wholly untrustworthy source. The title (Nothing Like it in the World) is rather ironic, since in fact the actual construction of the Transcontinental Railroad bore little relationship to what Ambrose wrote.

According to David Bain in Empire Express, page 368, Crocker named the town after Civil War Union general Jesse Lee Reno, killed during the war. According to Bain, many of Reno's Mexican War comrades had settled in the area and urged Crocker to name the town after Reno.


12/31/2008 9:58 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: wem@onetel.com

Myth & urban legend. According to Russell R. Elliott, History of Nevada, Second Edition, Revised, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973, 1987, p.113:

"On May 9, 1868, an agent of the railroad conducted a well-attended auction of lots on the former Lake property, marking the birth of a community which Crocker named Reno in honor of General Jesse L. Reno, a Union officer killed at the battle of South Mountain, Maryland, in 1862."

—John Snyder

12/31/2008 10:01 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See the interview with Mr. J.M. Graham.

12/31/2008 10:59 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "SW Kolterman" sw.kolterman@att.net

... then Ambrose goofed. 'Reno' never makes an appearance ...

—Steve Kolterman, Reno, Nevada

1/01/2009 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That book has lots of problems. Ambrose was recovering from a head injury (he fell off a horse) and had significant memory loss at the time. According to first hand accounts, the book editor/publisher obtained extensive errata from reviewers and then published the hardcover edition without making any of the corrections. According to Chris Graves, corrections were made in the later soft cover edition.

1/01/2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Wendell Huffman

Get thee down to the Nevada Historical Society and beg or buy a copy of the Fall, 1984 issue of the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly. It contains the most thorough discussion of the naming of Reno that one could hope for. BTW, there is other matter in that article that concerns more directly Myron Lake.

And, no, Reno's name didn't come out of a hat. The hat story comes from an 1917 thesis wherin Estelle Prouty attributes the story to "rumor." Reno and Wadsworth were named simultaneously. The odds that the names of two rather obscure military figures — at a time when the country was full of notable military heros — would be in the same hat at the same time are remote. Rather, Jesse Reno and James Wadsworth were personal heros of General Irvin McDowell, commander of the Army's Department of the Pacific 1864-1868, personal friend of Leland Stanford, and son-in-law of Troy, NY industrialist (and supplier to the CPRR) Henry Burden. The author of the above-mentioned article argues that Reno and Wadsworth were named at Stanford's insistence as a parting honor to McDowell, who returned east three weeks before the towns were named. McDowell later returned to California and Stanford was a pall bearer when he was buried.

McDowell was responsible for naming Camp Reno, in Arizona Territory. Coincidentally (and I suspect that's all there is to it) Camp Reno was just east of Verde, Arizona, while Reno, Nevada is just east of Verdi. It is probably not significant, but Verdi was apparently the last CPRR station named by Charles Crocker, while Reno was the first named by the associates as the directors of the Contract & Finance Company. Well, Reno and Wadsworth together share that distinction.

And speaking of placenames, why in the world did Crocker (or somebody) rename Heatonville after the treasurer of the Union Pacific Railroad, John Cisco. Yes, Cisco had been assistant US treasurer during the Civil War, but there were lots of other people involved in that matter. There must be more to that story.

And while preoccupied (as I am) with CPRR place names, does anyone know the reason Wilson's name at Emigrant Gap was replaced by "Fulda" about 1900? Wilson Creek, Wilson Valley, and Wilson Ravine were all on the map before the railroad. They come from one Andrew Wilson who had a "ranch" immediately east of Emigrant Gap. Strong and Judah "took possession" of Wilson's vacant cabin shortly after 8am on 28 October 1860, after fleeing their camp at Donner Pass in the face of a snowstorm. So, he was up there before them. Montague's CPRR engineering reports mention "Wilson's." Wilson remained active at Emigrant Gap until at least 1870. Emigrant Gap PO had been Wilson's until 1868. Wilson's name seems one worth preserving on the landscape, but somehow it was replaced by "Fulda" (Wilson's Valley became Carpenter Flat). There is no known record of anyone named Fulda owing property there 'bouts. It is a name of a German river, and there were Germans — deutch — at Dutch Flat, just down the road a piece. But Fulda Creek is hardly a river.

1/01/2009 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendell's comments re: Fulda Flat are indeed welcome. Fulda Flat is about 2 miles below Texas Hill, and is adjacent to Onion Valley. The lumber mill site atop Texas Hill still sports old CPRR and SPRR rail, used by Towle Bros. to transport lumber from the mill to the main rail line. The remains of a rail car are still be seen just to the North of Fulda Flat. An article in "Placer Nuggets", June, 1960 says that at one time there was a store, saloon and a small stamp mill at Fulda. Could be one of those folks named the place. gjg

1/02/2009 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It was 145 years ago today – May 9, 1868 – when the townsite of Reno was officially established. Charles Crocker, the railroad construction superintendent for the Central Pacific Railroad and his partners in the railroad, named the new town for Union General Jesse Reno, who died in 1862 at the battle of Fox’s Gap, South Mountain, Md. ... an infantry commander from Pennsylvania ... "

5/09/2013 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Saturday is the 201st anniversary of the birth of Jesse Lee Reno, namesake of the Biggest Little City. Reno was a Union Army general killed by a Confederate sniper in 1862. Reno never set foot in Nevada, let alone his namesake city, but researchers think Central Pacific Railroad president Leland Stanford named the town after Reno to honor Stanford's friend Gen. Irvin McDowell, one of Reno's former commanding officers."
Brett McGinness, Reno Gazette Journal, April 15, 2024

4/16/2024 9:45 AM  

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