Nevada History by John C. Evanoff

Visitreno.com 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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Northern Nevada’s Other Fascinating Things

by John C. Evanoff
July, 2012

There are many odd places and things of interest in Nevada, and here is one more you may have never seen much about or heard of before.

Tales of the bodies of three men and a woman being discovered in Robb Canyon in west Reno in the early 1970’s led to reports years later of ghosts trying to coax people to feel their pain and discover their murderers. The murders were to some accounts never made public or at least never solved. The entire canyon site and the nearby city park named Rainbow Ridge Park have become somewhat famous for haunting reports, sightings, disturbing noises including blood curdling screams and strange lights. Paranormal activity in the area has been investigated by experts and scientists for many years up and down Robb Canyon and the surrounding hills and all have come away with personal accounts of frightening events including many narratives of overwhelming dread upon entering the canyon at night. Reports still come from residents in the area and a few reality television shows have spent time in the area, all coming away with chronicles of actual sightings including some of the so called Shadow People.

The canyon holds an immense amount of history prior to Reno becoming a city. It was used by the three Washoe and Paiute Indian tribes that inhabited the region for centuries as a route to reach the southern hillside of Peavine Mountain because of the herds of deer and other game that used to migrate north and south across the Truckee River. In the early years of mining activity in the area, it was also used as a route to move pack animals from the river up to the Peavine mining district and Poeville on the other side of the mountain.
As a boy growing up in the area in the 1950’s, I spent many an early morning walking along that canyon floor and the surrounding hillsides hunting quail, chucker and cotton tail rabbit. On occasion, I found an arrowhead or two which eventually ended up in the Nevada State Museum. I spent a lot of time hiking and hunting all over the southern exposure of Peavine and have heard or read a lot of the legends of the area. I once hiked into an area near the Peavine mining site known as Brooklyn and found a gold pocket watch dated 1870. I gave it to my uncle who got it back in working order. Every time I held it, I felt a presence but never thought of it as an unsettling being. Years later I suspect I lost it in a move but I was never really sure. I never recovered that cherished piece of Nevada history but I hope it found its way to where it would be taken care. The life-force it exerted seemed to me quite unusually strong for being a supposedly inanimate object.

The area on that side of Peavine is also quite renowned in tribal legend as a place where many generations of Washoe and Northern Paiute were buried. I believe those ancient spirits look across the valley from the tops of each of the many small hills dotting the southern Peavine mountainside where they were once interned and may have many strong feelings of what is transpiring there now. In the last several years, many earthquakes in this area have shocked homeowners. Some attribute them to the fault-line between Verdi and Red Peak. Others believe it’s the spirits of the land and the ancients taking a hard look at the humanity now living in the area.
All of this is interesting in its folklore and historical references but I wonder if more apparitions will be revealed.


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