Truckee residents prepare for Town Portrait 2000

TRUCKEE - Organizers of a group portrait of town residents hope to draw as many as 12,000 Truckee residents to the Louisiana Pacific Mill Site on Sunday.

Hugh McGuigan's family lineage in Truckee dates back to the late 1800s. He is a descendent of the Von Fluee family, who owned the Von Fluee Dairy on West River Street until the early 1900s.

"My grandfather was born here in 1897. His family lived in Truckee prior to his birth, and for quite some time thereafter," McGuigan said. "He moved away in the '30s to work for Southern Pacific Railroad."

Mayor Maia Schneider proposed the idea of Town Portrait 2000 after seeing a copy of the previous town portrait, taken nearly 100 years ago, in OB's Pub and Restaurant on Commercial Row. The portrait is nearly six feet long and hangs in a mahogany frame. The photo is stained and cracked, but the image is still clear.

The portrait offers a window into what life was like in Truckee at the turn of the century. Some of the residents, dressed in heavy dark clothing with mittens and lavish hats, hold pieces of ice and snow, which was then one of the town's greatest commodities.

"There are only two copies of the previous town portrait that I know about, one at OB's Pub and Restaurant and the other at the Jail Museum," Schneider said.

The new Truckee Town Portrait will take place at the Old Mill, otherwise known as the "balloon track" or roundhouse, an area of notable historical significance.

Guy Coates, research historian for the Truckee Historical Society, said the roundhouse marked one of the centers for railroad activity until a fire destroyed the building.

The area has been cleaned of trash and debris, and over the last few weeks Director of Public Works Tom Covey has organized where the action will take place and where the photo will occur.

Professional photographers Russell Rosewood, Tom Lippert, John Echols, and Larry Prosser will be documenting the event from behind their cameras. As such, the photographers and their assistants may not be included in the historic portrait.

"It's too bad because we've been here for 25 years so we should be in the picture," said Laurel Lippert, wife of photographer Tom Lippert. Laurel will be flying a 1946 Cessna 140 with her husband Tom, who plans to take aerial photos from roughly 1,000 feet above the crowd.

"Who knows, maybe someone will look up and say 'Hey, the Lipperts need to be in here' and we will get our own portrait to put on the side."

Tom Lippert, a professional photographer since his days as a ski instructor at Squaw Valley 26 years ago, has been a staff photographer for Ski magazine for 15 years and currently shoots for Smithsonian magazine.

A professional photographer for roughly 30 years, Tom has traveled all over the world on assignment, including Australia, New Zealand and the former Yugoslavia for the 1984 Olympics.

While it's hard to top shooting from an old Cessna aircraft, photographer Russell Rosewood of Photo Sensitive will receive his share of the action.

In fact, Rosewood will be responsible for climbing the 80-foot ladder provided by the Truckee Fire Protection district to take the Town Portrait.

"There is a safety belt that hooks on to the rung of the ladder. But my major concern is the camera equipment. I am going to have to work out some type of safety rig."

Rosewood, also a long-time Truckee resident, said he went to the site with Truckee Fire Protection District to practice climbing the ladder.

Paul Covarelli, owner of the Pastime Bar for seven years and general manager for many more, has organized support from local musicians and sound experts who will donate their skills, time and energy.

To organize the first few rows of the picture, event organizers will hold a raffle, and draw lines on the ground with chalk to mark the first 90 spots.

The raffle tickets will be sold the day of the event at each entrance for $1. There are no limits to how many raffle tickets you can purchase.

For information about the Truckee Historical Society see the town of Truckee's Web site at, or, call the Historical Society Cabin at (530) 582-0893, e-mail

For information about volunteering call Mayor Maia Schneider at (530) 587-4982.


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