Dennis Cassinelli: Gardnerville, Minden and the Dangbergs

Continuing on with my stories about towns in Nevada, I will now tell about Minden and Gardnerville. At the Douglas County Historical Society Museum in Gardnerville, I donated the collection of Native American artifacts known as the Cassinelli-Perino Artifact Collection.
This collection was the inspiration for my best-selling book, “Preserving Traces of the Great Basin Indians.” I also donated some artifacts I found at Glenbrook where I worked for eight years.
The history of Douglas County begins with the arrival of the Fred Dangberg family in 1853. Fred Dangberg Sr., (1830-1904), a German emigrant, arrived in Gold Canyon near Dayton in 1857. Fred then started development of his Home Ranch in Carson Valley. He and his family then developed irrigation ditches between 1858-1901.
The Dangbergs then expanded their businesses to include butter, milk, sheep, wool, cattle, wheat, alfalfa and flour milling. He was elected for the second time as a Nevada state senator in 1882. In 1904, Fred Dangberg passed away at the age of 73. At the time of his death, he owned 37,000 acres of land.
Now, I want to mention a curious similarity between the Dangberg family dynasty and the popular fictional television depiction of the Cartright family dynasty we all watched many years ago. Ben, Adam, Hoss and Joe Cartright owned and operated a very large ranch in Carson Valley. This can be said word for word about the Dangberg family on the same land during the same period of time. Was this just a coincidence, or was the Bonanza series copied from the Dangberg legacy?
Despite the death of Fred Dangberg Sr., Fred Dangberg Jr., continued the legacy of the family. In 1902, the still-standing flour mill was built. In 1905, the town of Minden was created. Also in 1905, Fred Dangberg sold Walley Hot Springs for $11,310.
In 1908, the creamery was built. In 1909 a bank was established and in 1910, the telephone company started operation. In 1915, the Douglas County Courthouse was built. In 1916, the Minden Inn opened. Fred Dangberg Jr., became a Nevada state senator and the president of the Douglas County Rotary Club.
The area now known as Gardnerville was not much more than a dry sagebrush flat in the late 1870s when Lawrence Gilman arrived. He bought some of the dry land from John and Mary Gardner that would eventually be the start of the town of Gardnerville. In 1878, the Gardnerville Hotel opened to become the first business establishment in Gardnerville.
In 1906, The Virginia and Truckee Railroad constructed a 15-mile extension south from Carson City to the newly created town of Minden. Activity on the Comstock had decreased by this time and the railroad needed this new business. This transformed the railroad to a primary carrier of agricultural products and livestock from Minden and Gardnerville. The railroad made it possible for greater expansion of the Dangberg Legacy. Like Reno and Sparks, Minden and Gardnerville are adjacent to one another.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


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