Fallon prepares for its yearlong centennial celebration
FALLON – If Fallon’s millennium celebrations of 1999-2001 are any indication, this town is in for quite a party in 2008 as local leaders prepare for a yearlong party marking the city’s centennial.
Fallon was officially incorporated on Dec. 18, 1908, and officials started making plans as early as last spring for a centennial styled in the same fashion as the millennium celebrations.
“We want a lot of organized events like we had with the millennium,” said Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford Jr., who said a Mayor’s Centennial Commission will plan a variety of events to honor the town’s rich history.
“We plan to bring in different groups with emphasis on youth activities and some things for the senior citizens to honor our longtime city residents and focus on their contributions over the years,” he said.
Tedford said he consulted with city officials in Sparks and Las Vegas, both of which have had similar celebrations in recent years, to discuss possible ideas that might work for Fallon.
The mayor was able to work a deal with several other towns in Nevada to switch dates and bring the Nevada League of Cities conference to Fallon in 2008 – earlier than originally scheduled – to take advantage of centennial celebrations.
The Nevada State Firefighters’ Association also plans hold its spring 2008 convention in Fallon.
Tedford said he wants the expertise of residents who have historical knowledge of the area and a few of those who previously served on the Millennium Commission.
Jane Pieplow, Churchill County Museum director, will lend that organization’s historical expertise to the planning efforts.
“We are thrilled to work with the city of Fallon on these various projects as we are a historical resource and this is right up our alley,” Pieplow said.
Centennial celebrations will be planned throughout 2008 and many will dovetail into established Fallon events like the Farmer’s Market, Cantaloupe Festival, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and Naval Air Station Fallon.
“We will also bring in the Navy as they have a history here in the last 100 years,” Tedford said. The Navy originally came to Churchill County during World War II.
The overall goal of the centennial celebrations will be to showcase how different people helped build this community and what made it great then and now, Tedford said.
“It is going to be a great time and a great year and we are going to have fun and yet focus on our history at the same time.”
According to the museum’s 1999-2000 “In Focus” publication, the first permanent white settlers claimed their territory in the Lahontan Valley in the 1850s when a series of “stations” arose from the desert floor as rest stops and watering holes for cross-county travelers on the Overland Trial.
By 1861, Churchill County was established as part of the new Nevada Territory and the county population rose steadily, reaching 326 by 1875 as ranchers, farmers, merchants, teachers, teamsters and miners settled by the Carson River.
By 1890, there were 830 people living in the county.
The defining event for Fallon in the first decade of the 20th century was the passage of the National Reclamation Act of 1902, which created the Newlands Project and provided funds to build the Truckee Canal, bringing waters from the Truckee River to the Lahontan Valley and to dam the Carson River allowing for storage of irrigation waters.
As people nationwide became aware of cheap or free land and water in the Lahontan Valley, the population began to swell and Fallon began to take shape.
In 1903, what was to become the city of Fallon was designated as the county seat and the courthouse was built at the corner of Maine and Williams.
By 1906, dozens of business had sprung up near the center of town including saloons, restaurants, a confectionery parlor, drug stores, a harness and saddle shop, general merchandise store, a meat company, a bank, a wood and coal yard, hardware stores, laundries, brick makers, a machine shop and an undertaker.
The city of Fallon was named after one it its early residents and businessmen, Michael Fallon, who was born in Ireland in 1849.
The former California farmer established Fallon’s post office in July 1896. He sold his ranch in 1902 and moved on to California, leaving only his name as a legacy.
Public, commercial and private building kept pace with events at the turn of the 20th century: In 1903, the new courthouse; in 1904, the R.L. Douglas home, now the 1906 house at Williams Avenue and Carson Street and in 1906, a new high school. A Baptist Church, the first church in Fallon, was also established in 1906.
According to historical accounts in the Fallon Eagle-Standard printed in December 1958 for the 50th anniversary of Fallon, the move to incorporate Fallon as a city began in 1907 when 52 residents petitioned the Second Judicial District court.
About 30 residents asked the court to postpone their decision to allow more time for people to study the incorporation proposal, but the court granted the incorporation request and the election was held on Sept. 28, 1908.
The official incorporation was feted with a weeklong celebration the second week in December 1908.
The newly elected city officials took their respective offices on Jan. 9, 1909, with $118 in the city treasury.