Nevada History
by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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John C. Evanoff was born in Reno in October, 1947. He attended and graduated Reno High School, the University of Nevada and later, CalTech and Truckee Meadows Community College. He has won awards for his writing and has written for international, national and local publications. John published a book of poems entitled "HeartJazz" and has written short stories and many columns for Nevada and California newspapers as well as magazines.  He and his wife Sharon of more than 30 years are avid outdoor adventurers, golfers, photographers and explorers of Nevada/California history and geography.  He has been a member of many charitable organizations and several nonpolitical associations in the Northern Nevada region as well as Southern California where he now resides in Palm Desert.  He comes back on occasion to enjoy the area and he writes these columns about Northern Nevada because his knowledge of the area is a remembrance of his fondness for the locale and its people.  Even though he is now retired, he still wanted to pass on his knowledge and experiences so that you can get a better appreciation of the land, its history and its people.  If you'd like to contact John with questions or comments, please use the "Contact Us" link in the navigation bar above.

John recently provided information to author Westen Charles for a magazine article about The Willows Resort. That article has been published in "Casino Collectible News" brought to you by The Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club, Inc. has been granted permission by the publisher to post the article here. You'll find it a very interesting read.

Click here for archive of past columns by John

Northern Nevada

by John Evanoff

This column on has been a friendly reminder to all who have lived or visited here about the wonders and fascinating stories of Northern Nevada. The geologic and human history of Northern Nevada is one of the most varied of anywhere in North America. When I was young and growing up in the area, I was always excited to learn more about its past and sought out those who knew anything about the history of people, places and things in the region. Much of those descriptions and many of those stories come from old friends and acquaintances whose knowledge gave me an urge to know even more. Many of them are long gone as many of the ghosts towns are today, covered by urban settlements or forgotten, with only the smell of the sage wafting thru the valleys from the autumn Washoe zephyrs. My wife and I would sometimes sit around a campfire in the fall in the high desert north of Elko and listen to the coyotes yelping at the stars as we snacked on pinion nuts. I’d tell her the stories of the area and remember all the details I read from old books and journals or those I heard from miners, Indians and ranchers. Because I’ve had a chance to revisit many of these stories in the columns featured at this site, I’ve also encountered a lot of folks who want to know more by emailing me for more information. It comes as no surprise I began to remember even more as they tasked me to give them more history of an area, place or individual famous or infamous to Northern Nevada. If you have an interest in knowing more about Nevada and especially the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe region, I believe the best way to learn is to just get out and start climbing, walking and visiting the special places you want to know more about. Fifty-five years ago, our family and a few of our friends used to spend recreation time in the high desert and mountains. We had a large collection of Indian artifacts we had collected, a small part of which is now part of the Nevada State Museum’s exhibits and the rest with other museums throughout Northern Nevada. Today, artifact collecting including arrowhead hunting is against the law and the sacred hunting and burial grounds of our Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone Indian families throughout Northern Nevada and the west are protected by the United States Government. I still spend time remembering Nevada with its awesome stark beauty and vast emptiness cut and weathered by eons of wind, rain and volcanic activity. Amazingly, just 150 years ago, settlers in wagon trains made their way across these vast expanses just barely surviving the day to day trudge across alkali flats and the many mountain ranges between Utah and California. Many of their remains and many pieces of their wagons still exist along the many old Conestoga trails. In fact, some of the ruts of those old trails are still embedded in the rocks and old clay beds of the Black Rock, the Smoke Creek and the 40 Mile Desert. My mother once picked up a two and half dollar gold piece along the California trail in the middle of the 40 mile desert between Lovelock and Fernley along old US-40 back in 1958. I remember picking up the rusted barrel of a flintlock with a musket ball still in its chamber in the Smoke Creek Desert in 1959. These areas are still a favorite with off-road adventurers in the summer, but they can be treacherous in the winter and spring because the alkali flats soften into a gluey mud almost impossible to escape from if your vehicle becomes stuck. Some of the roads that lead off to mining towns and hot springs can be extremely enjoyable for sightseeing and discovery. Take the time to wander into Northern Nevada to view the wildlife and the geology up close and personal. Northern Nevada is full of some of the most extraordinary geography in the world and nowhere is that more true than the high desert and mountain ranges that extend from the Idaho border south to Tonopah and from Tahoe to Ely. The dark tan sagebrush encrusted mountainsides along the way parade against the glorious Nevada blue skies as bastions for a host of wildlife including mountain goat, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, mountain lion, sage grouse, red hawk, falcon and golden eagle. The Bureau of Land Management maintains many of the miles of desert and mountain valleys but some private ranches do cover vast amounts of acreage, so it is important to have a map with you and always ask before going thru fenced wilderness areas. Often you’ll get a chance to see many wild horses in these places as well. Mustangs are as much a part of Nevada as any other wildlife and it’s important you view it from afar rather than scare them by trying to get a close-up picture. Get the telescopic lens out instead. The mountain ranges in Nevada, the most of any state in North America, are alive with all kinds of flora and fauna. They can also be fascinating geologically with their lava columns left from volcanic activity; vertically carved granite faces left from glaciers and deep, excavated canyons left from ancient rivers and creeks. Many of the table top mountains you see in the desert east and north of Reno are left over islands from a vast inland endorheic basin (watershed lake) called Lahontan. Thirteen thousand years ago, it spread over most of northwestern Nevada, almost eight thousand square miles at its crest. This lake was the result of melt from giant ice sheets a mile or more deep during the last ice ages advancing into North America more than ten thousand years ago. When, the climate warmed about nine thousand years ago one of the only remaining water features remained; that being Pyramid Lake.

Along with fishing, hunting, camping, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding, one of the best things to do is in Northern Nevada is to get in the car and start driving. You’ll find lots to see and do. Just remember to stop along the way and visit the many museums and town information centers to learn more about what I’ve always thought as the best place to live and visit in all of the USA.

Archive of Past Articles by John C. Evanoff
A Gem in the Desert
   Along a River's Edge
The Forty Mile Desert
  Peavine, A Mountain of Memories 
Mt. Rose and Slide Mountain, Trails to Breathtaking Views
The Black Rock Desert; An Extraordinary Playa
Palomino Valley, Tule Peak and Winnemucca Ranch
Bowers Mansion and Washoe Valley
Wheeler Peak & Lehman Caves
The Blooming Desert
The Bottomless Spring and Monster Fish Lizards
The Middle of Nowhere in Nevada
The Biggest Glory Hole
The Flattest Place on Earth
Northeast Elko County
The Little Yosemite
Elko and Carlin
Battle Mountain and Winnemucca
Paradise and the
Santa Rosa Range
The Denio Detour
North of Gerlach (Pt. 1)
  North of Gerlach (Pt. 2)
Smoke Creek Desert
Ghosts & Things in N. NV
Sun Valley
A True Fisherman
An Evolutionary Tale
  The Willows
Nevada's Terrific Trivia Pt. I
Nevada's Terrific Trivia Pt. II
Nevada's Terrific Trivia Pt. III
Nevada's Fascinating Places
NV's Other Fascinating Things
No. NV's Hot Water & Ice
A question Answered
concerning downtown Reno

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