Nevada History by John C. Evanoff

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Favorite Trecks of Reno #10 of 10

April , 2009
By John Evanoff

When I was remembering what I like most about the Truckee Meadows besides its unique history and amazing landscape, nothing has moved me more to explore than my stirring need to stay in shape and still enjoy the seasons. Spring is by far one of my favorite times to enjoy my surroundings and Reno has some great places that get my vote for inspirational when it comes time to take a trek. For your pleasure, I have listed the top ten I enjoy and will begin with number ten in this column leading every month to my top all time favorite and most inspiring trek around Reno.

Nevada has nature plastered all over it, but some areas are plainly overlooked by the average soul and there are several hikes that you can find around Reno that lean heavily in that direction. If you enjoy studying nature, the Oxbow Nature Study Park off of Dickerson Road in West Reno along the train tracks and Truckee River is a rarity in that it is almost completely intact from how the river and land formed it over hundreds and maybe even thousands of years. Because of this, it is an area the Washoe County School District likes to use to school students on riparian zones which is essentially land bordering a stream. The springtime usually brings more water down the Truckee, and so it enters into this kind of natural cul-de-sac to create a wonderful spot where wildlife comes to nest or visit throughout the day. Most every day of the year, the aquatic ecosystem here is one that is fragile and yet robust in its diversity. There are plenty of small signs and kiosks to help you study the hydrophilic plants and ecology along the trails and you can pick up a brochure at the trailhead at the entrance most of the time. The trails throughout the park allow you to take each individual study into view and most people will be astounded at the wide variety of plant and animal life living in this small area.

The best way to get to the park is to take Second Street west from downtown until it reaches Dickerson which runs along the river past some businesses, homes and apartments. Go all the way to the end of Dickerson to reach it. My favorite way though, is to actually park at Idlewild Park near the California Building, and begin my hike beginning at the river trail along the park’s northern boundary with the river. This is a running and walking trail and is used by a lot of people, but it is also a favorite of mine because it’s right along the Truckee River and so close to downtown and my favorite park, which is Idlewild. Take the trail all the way east to the Booth Street Bridge and go across it and east along Riverside Drive. You can then take the road north under Keystone Avenue or go a bit further past the old Mckinley School and take Vine Street north to 1st Street or 2nd Street. Then, take a left and go west past many old homes and some businesses and past Chism Street and then a few blocks more and left on Dickerson. Chism Street was named after a proprietor of a large dairy ranch in the early 1880’s named Gardner Chism. His son, John H. Chism, took over in 1900 and in ten years, produced the largest dairy in Nevada. They not only sold almost all the milk for Reno and Sparks, but in 1905, his brother Edward created the Chism Ice Cream Company. Power for the factory was maintained by a waterwheel along the Truckee River at where Chism’s Trailer Park now resides. When electricity came to town in abundance from the many turbines installed west along the Truckee, the Ice Cream Factory was moved to West Street where the 7-up Bottling Factory also resided. The Chism Ice Cream Factory lasted into the early 1970’s. I remember that ice cream like it was yesterday. It was wonderfully smooth and deliciously creamy. The Chism House at 1401 W. 2nd Street, still stands today as a historical remembrance of early Reno, the grounds and house used for weddings and receptions.

Past the Chism House on the left and almost to the railroad tracks is Dickerson heading west along the river. I find it a relaxing morning walk, but you can go just about any time and in fact, evening walks can be fun because the frogs at Oxbow are particularly lively and loud. The cottonwoods, willows, alders, and many other trees along the route make it especially serene and you are constantly mindful of the words of Walter Van Tilburg Clark in his book, “The City of Trembling Leaves.” The never ceasing presence of the quintessence of existence and the life blood of the land that touches us daily is at constant display along the Truckee River and at Oxbow Park. Clark wrote poetry and a couple novels, but was notable for his western stories, especially the “Oxbow Incident” which was later made into a movie starring Henry Fonda. Clark grew up in Reno while his father was President of the University of Nevada in the 1920’s. He wrote several poems and short stories mostly with Reno, the Sierra’s and the high desert as the backdrop for his narrative. If you have a chance to read some of his work, you will read early Reno and the grandeur of the area throughout his compositions. He was one of the first authors inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

This walk is approximately five to six miles in length round trip from the California Building at Idlewild Park to Oxbow and back. If you just want to walk along the trails at Oxbow, it’s only about a quarter to a half-mile of enjoyable sightseeing. Either way take a chance and discover my tenth favorite on my list of all time favorite treks of Reno.


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