Dennis Cassinelli

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
 About 40 miles north of Winnemucca is the small town of Paradise Valley. Having many relatives in this small ranching community, I have made many trips to this town to visit them and enjoy the wonderful ranch where they live.
My late uncle Bob and his wife, Georgene, were gracious enough to allow my wife, Mary, and me to stay with them and their kids every year. Mary and Georgene were sisters, so it was always a great family gathering.
The ranch where they lived is known as the Old Mill Ranch, due to being the location of the still existing Silver State Flour Mill, built and operated back in the 1860s. This was a water-powered mill using water from Martin Creek to turn a turbine to power the mill machinery.
At my yard in Dayton, I have a millstone from the old mill given to me by Uncle Bob.
I often went up to the ranch during hunting and fishing season to catch trout and hunt deer, antelope, sage hen and partridge. On one deer hunting trip Uncle Bob was accidentally shot by another hunter through both thighs on opening day of the season. Though badly injured, he was able to come back with me on the last day of the season to get his deer.
On the ranch, they grew hay, potatoes, hogs and other farm animals. One time when they went away on vacation, I was working for NDOT in Winnemucca, and went up to the ranch every day to milk their cows. Another time, the postmaster hired my landscape crew to build some sprinkler systems at the Paradise Valley post office.
There was a small bunkhouse on the Cassinelli ranch built about 1920. It was taken to Washington, D.C., in 1980 for the Smithsonian’s Buckaroos in Paradise Exhibit. When the Smithsonian was finished exhibiting the bunkhouse, it was returned to the ranch.
Near Paradise Valley is a quarry where a fine-grained sandstone is mined and was used to construct many of the old buildings around the valley, including the Silver State Flour Mill, barns, sheds and hundreds of other structures all over Paradise Valley.
The early settlers of Paradise Valley were predominately Italian with some Basque emigrants. Early on, there were some Chinese laborers, as evidenced by the ruins of a dam on Martin Creek called China Dam, that was likely built by Chinese after the Central Pacific Railroad was completed.
In 1865, the U.S. Army constructed Fort Scott in Paradise Valley from timbers and adobe due to problems with Indians in the area. A barn, enlisted men’s quarters and Army garrison still exist.
My other uncle, Chester, and his family owned the Singas Creek Ranch on the west side of the valley. Every fall when the cattle were brought back to their ranch from the Santa Rosa Mountains for the winter, My son, Tim, rode his horse with their crew to bring the cattle back.
Back in the mountains north of Paradise Valley are several buckaroo line camps at Black Ridge, Hardscrabble and others where cowboys who look after the livestock keep a few canned goods and other essentials while on the range. On one occasion, I was preparing for a pack trip on horseback from June Lake to Yosemite Valley across the Sierras. To toughen up my back side to prevent saddle sores, I rode from Hardscrabble back to Paradise Valley.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment