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A traveler’s impressions of Carson City

Staff Report

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from “Little sheaves: gathered while gleaning after reapers. Being letters of travel commencing in 1870, and ending in 1873” by Caroline M. Churchill. The passage was located by Fred Nietz, a member of the Carson City Sesquicentennial Committee.

Carson City.

The heated term has commenced at last. Since the 3d of July, how to keep cool has been all the cry. The hot sand scorches one’s feet and hourly brings us in sympathy with Shadrech, Meshach and Abednego. When the sun strikes fairly upon the wooden walks, it threatens to set them in a blaze. Awnings are put in order; parlors are made dark as prisons; wire doors and windows are in great demand; the Hoosier Fly Cage is visible, and is said to be the only thing that prevents the ice from being fly blown; the pigs lie in their mud baths; poodle dogs, that have not been sheared, creep under the sidewalk; the voice of the bird is silent as if listening for the Washoe-zephyr; the perspiring voter freely imbibes his favorite beverage, quoting the Thomsonian theory, that it is necessary to keep the inward heat higher than the outer at any cost.

A regular trade wind sets in every afternoon, the same as it does upon the sea coast. This wind is said to be manufactured upon the mountains, for the especial comfort of the inhabitants of Nevada, it is so much like San Francisco. It blows a regular gale every afternoon with few exceptions, filling the air with every conceivable transportable thing. Occasionally there falls a few drops of rain, but for a general thing the clouds are influenced to pour out their copious draughts upon these venerable piles of matter lying nearest to them. Many persons believe the clouds can be induced to come nearer the valleys with their coveted fluids, if groves of trees are extensively planted. It must be a philosophical fact that clouds are attracted by other matter, as they would never cling to the hills as they are known to do.

These hot days cause this town of a thousand smells, to send forth an effluvia which has become offensive to the standing “boards,” and for fear of cholera or some other pestilence, they have concluded to sit. Since this sitting I have observed one bonfire and one garbage wagon. The authorities should issue a proclamation that every citizen shall clean up his premises and the street or streets adjoining. Wagons should be hired to cart away the trash, and be paid by the State, if there is no city fund for that purpose. This could be done under some special necessity act. There are Indians and Chinamen by the scores, affording abundance of cheap labor, each property owner could employ and pay these people to do the shoveling, and this offensive stuff could be dumped at the foot of that snow-capped mountain and there left to freeze.

The people of Carson are very sensitive. They are apt to see things through a glass darkly. They are also inclined to be politic. This is perhaps owing to the fact that it is the Capitol city, and the center of politics. Some of them have hinted to me that even truths should not always be freely discussed. I am aware of this, and for the sake of humanity, and love of the Carsonites in particular, I have suppressed an ocean of truths, hoping that time, a few more cases of brandy and a few burial cases would bring them to a sense of overwhelming duties.

There is not a city in America that has better facilities for bathing and keeping clean than this beautiful little Carson, but what does beauty amount to with soiled face and person so unclean as to send forth unpleasant odors? What style of beauty pleases when clothed in rags and dirt?

There are many fine buildings in Carson and some stately structures. The Governor is a model of personal excellence and genial affability. The officials and business men in general are handsome and polite. The women are fair and trustworthy. The children are gay and happy, but I am informed, reliably, that they would be more so if the schoolhouses were better ventilated.

O, Carson! arise in the might of thy strength and put thy streets in order, for although the days of the epizootic are numbered, the cholera may yet appear within thy limits! Several cases of illness have occurred where the symptoms were exactly like those described in cholera, only it yielded to vigorous medical treatment. I have heard of none proving fatal, in fact did not care to investigate, deeming it bad policy to know too much about an unwholesome subject.