Record snows this past winter were finally just too much for the iconic Reindeer Lodge above Reno on the Mount Rose Highway.
Owner Gary Schmidt said up to 25 feet of heavy, wet snow simply overloaded the timber-frame roof of the lodge.
“They key beam that snapped was 12 by 20 inches (thick) he said.
The result, despite being built from old-growth cedar, the entire building collapsed around the huge fireplace that was the centerpiece of the 60-year-old lodge.
“It was just too much snow,” he said. “A 25 by 25 by 25 cube of ice broke through and went down to the floor, crushed the couches down to six inches.”
“I was hoping someone would come along to preserve the property,” said Schmidt, who has owned the property for 45 years. He said the only people interested, “didn’t have the money or the experience.”
During the years Schmidt owned the Reindeer Lodge, he hosted numerous parties including live music from entertainers as famous as blues guitarist Elvin Bishop.
“It is what it is,” he said philosophically, adding that the only recourse now is to clear away the wreckage of the old lodge.
According to Jeff Kintop, administrator of state libraries, archives and public records, the lodge opened December 20, 1957 as ”The Rosemont,” owned and operated by Harry and George Vanderheide and Denny Hall as a resort with what the Reno Evening Gazette called “a rustic mountain motif.”
It had not only a lounge centered on that huge fireplace but a casino and a coffee shop. It was described as “the newest addition to the Mount Rose Recreation Area.”
Kintop said it was undoubtedly the only resort “this side of the Sierra Nevada,” since the area ski resorts didn’t offer food and lodging in those days.
Schmidt said the property is valuable — a roughly five acre chunk of private land essentially surrounded by forest along the highway connecting Reno to North Shore Lake Tahoe just below the horseshoe bend in the road near the Christmas Tree and Mount Rose Ski Resort.
He said the property is “quietly” up for sale but he’s not in a hurry: “I don’t need the money.”
He said chances of finding someone interested are better now the economy and real estate market are recovering.
“I think a microbrewery is the best deal,” he said, “Like Deer Beer.”
Schmidt said the site certainly has the pure water to make first class beer: “all our water is melted snow.”
He said for years he has had issues with county officials over his plans to build some homes on part of the property.
“I got tired of fighting the county,” he said.
The other issue, he said, is NDOT has been blowing huge amounts of snow onto his property for 15 years instead of blowing the snow off the other side of the highway. He said that contributed to a number of problems at the lodge.