Ronni Hannaman: Land in Genoa was too expensive to be the state Capitol

It’s always about the “deal.” Even in the early 1850s, developers were looking for the best possible real estate opportunities. Carson City’s founder wanted to build a trading post in Genoa, but the cost of the land deterred him, thus he headed his horse north to gallop about 20 miles to what was already known as Eagle Valley.
He found what he wanted and, as they say, the rest is history.
The story begins in the year 1851 when Col. John Reese established the first trading post in what was then the Utah Territory at what is today known as Mormon Station in Genoa.
About the same time, 20 miles north, John Hall also establish a trading post and large ranch named Eagle Station off what is today Fifth Street in Carson City. He sold the post a few years later to John Mankins.
In 1858, Abe Curry, Carson’s most recognized founder, came with friends to the Eagle Valley to buy most of the ranch from Mankins that was to become Carson City after his bid for $1,000 (today about $33,500) to buy property in Genoa was considered too low.
The $1,000 deal was made and Mankins was paid $500 in coin and the remainder in mustangs according to “Angels History of Nevada 1881.” Curry and friends became owners of a huge tract of land and began plotting a new city. As with all historical tales, there’s really more to the story.
If Curry were to try to purchase a house or land in Genoa today, he would find the property still out of his price range. In August, Redfin reported the Genoa median home listing price at $1.57 million, more than triple Carson’s listing at about $464,000, Thus, when one talks about “affordable,” it’s all relative.
Curry’s vision for a capital city paid off, although unlike many of today’s developers, he did not become a man of wealth. Whereas today’s developers deed space to the city for parks, Curry deeded 10 acres to be used to build a Capitol on the very site it is today.
Over the many years, Genoa has evolved into a very small exclusive village of 659 souls according to the U.S. Census Bureau, whereas Carson City has blossomed to over 56,500 (or over 58,500 if you include the prison population).
Carson City has always been the center of trade for the region — that is until Reno was officially established in 1868 by Myron Lake who gave the Central Pacific Railroad the right of way through his newly-established Reno that spurred the growth of this new city.
Even the Cartwright family rode their horses from their Bonanza Ranch in Incline to do business in Carson. The Pony Express stopped here. The hotels were here. Silver coins were minted here. There was an opera house, a racetrack, a brewery, hot springs, and later a bona-fide Capitol followed by prisons and all that comes with the establishment of a city and a new state. The jobs are here. Even Mark Twain joined his brother here when Orion Clemens became the secretary of the newly-established Nevada Territory.
Carson City became the city and seat of government where the history of Nevada was and continues to be made. But, admittedly, we cannot lay claim to the oldest bar in Nevada that can only be found in Genoa simply known as the Genoa Bar.
Today, developers have plans for almost every square inch of Carson’s land as apartments, housing tracks, and condominiums are being built to house all those who have discovered Curry’s beautiful Eagle Valley.
This weekend, the 102nd Annual Genoa Candy Dance will momentarily shine a light on this historic little community while Carson City continues to do the business of the state and now is once again the center of trade to the surrounding counties outside of Reno, although even those living in south Reno enjoy shopping here.
As was published in the Nevada Appeal 150 years ago, “The hammer and saw is heard throughout Carson. Improvement is in the air. As a matter of fact Carson and Reno are thriving little towns and always will be.”


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