Oldest elevator hidden in downtown Carson City building

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Behind a sliding blue door in what is now the Secretary of State's office is Nevada's oldest legal, operating elevator.

Exactly how old isn't known, but the elevator has been carrying goods, hardware, parts and even groceries up from the basement of the Meyers Hardware Building at Carson and Musser for decades -- possibly more than 100 years.

Secretary of State Dean Heller can attest that it's been there more than 30 years. He remembers playing on it when he was in elementary school in the 1960s.

In fact, he said, he and Tim Robinson, whose grandfather Laddie Furlong was one of the store's owners, used to get in trouble for playing with the elevator.

"We always got in trouble for doing this," he said this week as he lowered the rope and pulley operated cage.

Joe Saiz of the state's Industrial Safety Division says there could conceivably be an older elevator in the state -- but not one that's legal and licensed by his office.

The certificate on the wall says the elevator is rated for up to 500 pounds and, since it's hand operated, its speed is listed as "0" feet per minute.

The elevator could actually be better described as an overgrown dumb waiter. A thick manila rope around a 4 foot diameter steel wheel drives a gear system that hauls the metal and wooden frame cage from the basement to the first floor of the building.

Saiz said it passes inspection every year because it's safe.

"If you overloaded it or the rope broke, it would set the safeties," he said.

Heller said it still gets daily use hauling boxes of copy paper, records and other materials up and down from the building's basement.

The elevator's original number assigned by the state is 221. It was made in 1876 by the K.C. Elevator Manufacturing Co. of Kansas City, Mo.

Saiz said that company specialized in freight "lifts" and there is another very similar to the one in the Meyers Building in what is now a furniture store in Elko.

There are no records spelling out exactly when the elevator was installed in downtown Carson. It doesn't show on the assessor's map dated 1907, but does on the one dated 1941.

Carson Assessor Kit Weaver, however, said that doesn't mean it wasn't there in 1907 because sometimes that kind of detail didn't make it onto the maps in those days. For example, the staircase to the basement doesn't show on the 1907 map either.

It's due for its annual inspection again in June, and Heller says he sees no reason it won't pass.


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