Hidden memorabilia of Old Town Dayton
August 29, 2005
There are a few historical artifacts around town that seldom get mentioned that should be recognized.
I love the two antique bells we have. They are rarely rung, except when an occasional special event is in progress, either in the museum or the historic firehouse and jail on Pike Street.
Both bells were manufactured in Sheffield, England, in the early 1860s, and each has its unique tone. I understand the reason for that was so the folks in Dayton could tell if there was a fire or just school time.
I once had an older woman visit the museum who said the teacher never let her ring the bell. So I said, “You had better step over there and ring that ol’ bell.” She was delighted, and left pleased. It’s funny how childhood memories affect us as adults.
Another piece of memorabilia hidden most of the time is the group of names and poems scratched into the wall of the old jail inside the firehouse. There is one poignant poem on the wall. The firehouse will be open during Dayton Valley Days as it has been the last few years. (Or, if your group wants a private tour, call one of the telephone numbers at the end of this column). As you can tell, we like to show off our history, some of Nevada’s finest.
Another rare artifact that’s taken for granted is the hand-painted Levi Strauss sign on the side of the Loftus Building (Old Corner Bar) at the corner of Pike and Main streets. During Dayton’s Sesquicentennial celebration of Nevada’s first gold discovery, held in July 1999, the committee contacted Levi Strauss Co., requesting it refurbish the 1900s sign once painted on the side of the stone structure. The company agreed, hiring historic restoration artists who did an amazing job of repainting the faded sign at no cost to the community – estimated value was $30,000.
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There are other hidden historic landmarks which I will reveal as time passes. We do hope you visit our museum soon.
The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It’s also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m; Sundays 1- 4 p.m. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
– Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.