If you think we have had a long cold spell this winter, I have news for you. Let me tell you, I'm glad we haven't had to endure the weather reported to be the worst in 50 years, according to a Reno weatherman.
Below are a few excerpts from Emma Nevada Barton Loftus' diary dated 1937. The verbiage below is as it appears in her handwritten diary.
• Thursday Jan 7, 1937
"1 below zero at my place (Dayton) 20 below zero at the airport in Reno. Wells Ð35 degrees, Mina Ð10 degrees, Truckee Ð26 degrees, Carson Ð7 degrees, Yerington Ð22 degrees, Reno Ð10 degrees, Como Ð16 degrees, and all over the state was terribly cold. It was zero here on the post in the backyard at 5 p.m. tonight. It is two below now at 9:15 p.m." (Mrs. Loftus lived on Pike Street across from the Odeon Hall and Saloon.)
• Friday Jan 8, 1937
"14-below zero out here on the post Ð 16 degrees below down at Leet's, the thermometer didn't get only 8-above zero all day. 27 below at Reno airport. It is just terrible cold - and they don't give us any hope of warm weather. Shoveled some paths to my clotheslines, guess the snow will last all summer if it keeps this up much longer. It was 11 below at 6 p.m., another cold night. 13 degrees-below zero now 9 p.m."
Along with the cold weather, of course, all the water pipes in town were frozen and that left a lot of raw nerves with Dayton folks. The pipe that served the people in Dayton was a wooden one that ran down Main Street. It's still there in a few places. The natives of Dayton called it "the log."
Here are more weather temperatures as recorded in Emma's diary:
• Friday Jan 15, 1937
"12 above this morning, no water in the pipes yet. I could throw old Gianni in the cistern and put on the cover - he isn't trying to get the water in the log. My oil stove was plugged up. Had to get Chester [Emma's son] up tonight to fix it. I told him this was a great place - no water in the house and no fire - he fixed the stove in a few minutes, so it is 'perking' now.
• Monday Feb. 1, 1937
"12-below zero this morning. Sure was another cold night. No stage today with mail. Wind blowing and drifting the already snow something awful. 100 men are working in Washoe Valley to get the train, stages and cars out. Neil Schmidt didn't come home at all tonight, has to stay in Carson. The radio says another big storm coming over Donner will reach Reno and here sometime tonight. This is the severest winter in 50 years they claim. I know it is the worst I have ever seen."
And so the terrible weather in 1937 continued several more weeks. I'd say this year's winter has been mild, compared to some of the winters recorded in Emma's diaries.
The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. The museum is closed for the winter; watch for its opening date this month. Web site: daytonnvhistory.org. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441. The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets the third Wednesday at noon in the Dayton Valley Community Center.
• Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.