Bill Davis likes to dig up the past
When you want to find an old ghost town, who you gonna call?
William C. Davis, that’s who.
“I go by William C. Davis because there are a lot of Bill Davises in the world,” laughed archaeologist William C. Davis, Ph.D. as we began our visit “But everybody calls me Bill anyway, and so can you.”
Bill is 70 and was born in Berkeley, Calif. He and Dorothy – she’s 64 and was born in Blooming Grove, Texas – have been married 47 years. They live in Fallon and have two grown children. Wes is 45 and lives in Silver Springs and Jane is 43 and lives in Fallon.
“Dorothy and I met in Modesto (Calif.) during the depression,” said Bill. “I was working for Caterpillar Co. and she was in high school. We were introduced by neighbors and got married in her parents’ home.”
The family moved to Fallon 42 years ago to “escape” California.
“The kids were babies then and we left all that pollution and people behind,” said Bill. “I could see what was coming and we didn’t want to raise our kids there. It was a smart move. Absolutely!”
Before he got to the Silver State, Bill served in the Army Air Corps.
“I served from 1945-49 and was an airplane mechanic and part of the flight crew,” said Bill. “We flew C-54 cargo planes and went everywhere. We were stationed in Europe and our home base was the Azores Islands. We moved food and supplies and troops everywhere. In 1948 we were part of the Berlin Airlift. That was scary. They shot at us every day.”
Bill made it back safely. When he first got to Nevada, Bill was a miner.
“I was a hard-rock and a tungsten miner,” he said. “I retired from it in 1988. Today I’m an archaeologist, both historic and prehistoric. I record and document everything to do with an archaeological site. I map and research too.”
Dug up any good bones lately?
“No, I don’t do that,” he replied with a smile. “I work for Kautz Environmental Consultants in Reno and I’m on call for other companies too. I also volunteer for the BLM as an historical archaeologist. I love it. Wouldn’t do anything else. I like to climb mountains. This is my life now.”
Bill, who says he’ll “never retire” because he enjoys being active, likes to find this area’s hidden historic sites, like old mining and ghost towns, before they disappear forever. The largest and oldest site Bill has documented is White Plains, which was settled near the Carson River in 1868.
“The Central Pacific served White Plains,” he added. “It was a very active town.”
Bill just got back from Utah where he recorded the historic town site of Black Horse.
“That was a famous mining town that existed from 1905-13,” he said. “I go lots of places to do my work and have even been to Israel and many places in this country too.”
Bill wrote a book about his work. It’s called “Historic Site Studies in Churchill County” and was published early last year by the American Literary Press and is available at the Churchill County Museum in Fallon. Bill also spends “numerous hours” talking with old-timers about their remembrances of the early days in Churchill County. Much of that went into his book.
“It’s all about historic sites, mainly mining towns and camps in the 1900s,” said Bill as he showed me a copy of his book. “I wrote it for posterity.”
He also showed me his award from the Nevada State Historic Preservation Society he received in May for “his efforts to preserve Nevada’s rich heritage” and a couple of letters of thanks and appreciation he’s received, including one from Democratic Sen. Richard Bryan for “making me aware” of his efforts and hard work regarding western history and Nevada’s heritage.
Bill has excavated many sites in Churchill County and he gives lectures to just about anyone who wants to listen.
A TV STAR
Bill has a TV show on Carson Access Television and that’s where we met when Diane Alberg, community services director for the station, introduced usafter diane told me all about Bill.
“They are Nevada mining and history shows,” said Bill. “I’ve got five shows that they air periodically.”
You can see one of those shows tonight on channel 26 in Carson City. It’s called “Archaeology and Old Bottles” and the half-hour show airs at 8:30 p.m.
A FAMILY TRADITION
With Christmas just around the corner, I asked Bill what he and Dorothy have planned for the holiday.
“We’ll spend Christmas with family and friends at our daughter Jane and her husband Leonard’s home,” he said cheerfully. “It’s a family tradition.”
The New Year holiday is a different story.
“We never go out on that night now,” said Bill. “It’s been many years since we went out on New Years night. We did a long time ago, but now we just stay home and stay safe. My party days are over.”
So are mine, I might add.
— On our Street talk TV Show tonight on Cat-10 we’ll air our annual holiday show that features lights, music and many homes right here in Carson City. The show airs at 6 p.m. Repeats Monday at 8 a.m. It will also be aired next Saturday at 8 p.m.
ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.