Genoa: Nevada’s first settlement by Dennis Cassinelli

A look at sunset of the 15th hole of the Genoa Lakes Ranch Course.

A look at sunset of the 15th hole of the Genoa Lakes Ranch Course.

Genoa, Nevada was founded in Nevada Territory in 1851 in Douglas County. It has the oldest bar in Nevada, opened in 1853. The town was settled by Mormon pioneers who opened a trading post on named Mormon Station on the California Trail. They built a log enclosure or fort and sold supplies and livestock to travelers. This area is now the Mormon Station Nevada State Park. Orson Hyde changed the name of the town from Mormon Station to Genoa in 1856, after the city in Italy where Columbus departed to discover America.
The original Mormon settlers were called back to Utah in 1857 by Brigham Young due to a war in Utah. Genoa became the first capital of Nevada Territory in 1861 until it was later moved to Carson City.
Genoa is know for an annual event held every fall known as the Genoa Candy Dance. Many vendors sign up to display arts and crafts in booths along the streets of town and sell things to throngs of visitors. Joe Woldridge and I had a booth with wood crafts we had made one year, but it rained both days. Fortunately, our relatives bought enough items to save the day for us. Another year, I set up my booth in front of the Genoa Museum and sold many of my books at the event.
One year, the film crew for the filming of the Clint Eastwood movie, Honkey Tonk Man, came to town and used a rustic part of town for filming some of the scenes for the movie. At that time, I had a restored 1926 Dodge sedan that the film crew hired me to bring to be a background prop for the film. My teenage son, John, and I towed the old Dodge to Genoa for the movie. The director asked John if he would stay and do chores for the film crew. I had work to do in Carson, so I left John there. When I came back that afternoon to pick him up, he told me they asked him to bring Clint Eastwood’s lunch to him at noon, among other chores.
Genoa has many other attractions, including the Historic Pink House Restaurant. This is a beautiful Gothic Revival house built in 1855. it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Just south of Genoa is Wally’s Hot Springs and Spa which attracts many people with arthritis and other ailments. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the historic David Walley’s Resort is a rustic mountain lodge that is a warm and cosy retreat even on cold winter days. Here you can soak in any of the five famed hot springs just as pioneers did, or sit back and relax with a drink at the 1862 Restaurant and Saloon.
Just west of town is the historic Genoa Cemetery where pioneer mailman Snowshoe Thompson is buried. When roads in the high Sierras were closed due to snow, Thompson carried bags of mail over the mountains between Genoa and Placerville just because he wanted to. Many times when I visited Genoa, it was not unusual to see deer casually walking across the street or laying in peoples yards.
When you visit Genoa, be sure to stop in to have a drink at the Genoa Bar. Times when I was there, there were ancient cobwebs still on the windows. One time I was in the Genoa bar when a lady tourist from California came in and ordered a 7-up. The bartender, named Tork, told her, “Lady, this is a bar. we sell beer and booze. If you want soda pop, go to the grocery store across the street.” I suppose everyone has their standards.
This article is by Dayton Author and Historian, Dennis Cassinelli. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at Just click on "order books"


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