Trailblazing for Nevada Day: Volunteers to cut path in Dayton State Park

What better way to spend Nevada Day weekend than blazing a trail?

Volunteers are planning to spend the Sunday of Nevada Day weekend cutting a trail along a hidden corner of Dayton State Park.

Trees shade a sheltered meadow located on the north side of Highway 50. The meadow was once a pond supplying water for the wheels of the Rock Point Mill, whose remnants can still be seen rising above Dayton.

Once the work is complete, the former millpond will become a picnic site and home to a walking trail.

I toured the site on Thursday with four women involved in transforming one of the least used parts of the state park into something visitors can enjoy and learn from.

Judy Harris is the engine behind the latest efforts. The retired history teacher from Los Angeles is a recent arrival in Dayton, but an enthusiastic one.

She is presently the VISTA volunteer service learning community coordinator, where she continues to work with teenagers, this time to build up the park.

Debbie Aquino is Dayton Task Force leader and a five-year resident of Dayton. Pam Abercrombie, 32, is a Carson City native and a graduate from Carson High School and the University of Nevada, Reno. The Central Lyon Youth Connection youth coordinator, she serves as the group's historian.

Debbie says the goal is to develop picnic areas. At present there are three picnic tables in the park on loan from Washoe Lake State Park.

"This would be a nice area for an amphitheater," Debbie says as she sweeps her arm across the bowl-shaped park.

Judy and husband Randy came moved to Dayton a year and a half ago. "We had been coming up to Tahoe for 10 years and originally wanted to move there, but it is too expensive," she said. "We had a real estate agent out of Minden who started looking around for us and found a place here."

Randy is a volunteer at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Pam grew up in Carson City and is the daughter to Chuck and Jean Abercrombie.

We wandered along the edges of the field as the park's lone occupant, a young man reading a library book at one of the picnic tables, soaked up the afternoon sun.

The trees were white and gold and a fine dust rose the trails as Judy led the way through the meadow and then up the rise to the concrete remains of the mill.

The mill is a popular roadside attraction. People stop by the side of the road near the old mine and explore the vicinity. I once saw a bus load of nuns prowling around the area and checking out the interpretive sign.

The Dayton High School track team runs a route through the park, the mill site and then through a tunnel under Highway 50 into the main part of the park.

But the real work has been over in the pond, where volunteers cleared brush and garbage, building trails through the meadow.

Nevada Day falls on the same date as Make A Difference Day, which is normally when Judy said she would be attracting volunteers.

"We can move the day for religious reasons," Judy said "I told the VISTA organizers that we felt very strongly about Nevada Day."

The work day is planned for 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, rakes and shovels and meet in the Dayton Depot parking lot.

There will be a barbecue for volunteers after the work is completed.

Speaker Emeritus Joe Dini was honored with a coin stamping at the Nevada State Museum Wednesday night.

Proceeds from the coins will go to support the Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center. The renovated 1912 historic Yerington grammar school houses a 210-seat performing arts center.

I came across a name I recognized while reading the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday.

Michael Hyams, who was hired by Bob Cashell to promote the Ormsby House, wanted to close down the Las Vegas Strip for a Halloween parade and party.

However, it appears the Boo Ga Loo Las Vegas won't be happening this year as the main supporters relocated to San Diego and Michael has stopped picking up his phone.

Kurt Hildebrand is former managing editor at the Nevada Appeal. Reach him at 887-2430, ext.402 or e-mail him at


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