Fuji Park is actually Carson City Fairgrounds
What is commonly called Fuji Park is actually the Carson City Fairgrounds.
Nobody bequeathed land to the city to build the park, but these and other misconceptions cloud people’s view of the fairgrounds and park, said Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens.
The city’s announcement that Costco intends to put a 145,000-square-foot warehouse and gas station next to the park and fairgrounds has focused attention on the area’s future as well as its past.
Ormsby County officials purchased the land now known as Fuji Park and the proposed Costco site in 1886 from George and Ellen Bath for $2,000 and another small parcel from J. J. Abraham for $175 in gold.
Much of the property south of what is now Clear Creek Road was used from the 1860s until at least the 1940s as the Ormsby County Poor Farm.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, counties were required to care for indigent and elderly people who could not care for themselves. It was a precursor to today’s nursing homes.
Residents at the farm were cared for by a couple paid to tend the place, but patients also worked on the farm.
The fairgrounds is also home to a small cemetery, occupied by two Civil War veterans who died at the poor farm.
John Thoroughman was born in Ohio in 1838. He served during the Civil War in Nevada and Utah. He lived at the poor farm off and on from 1907 until his death Dec. 19, 1909.
He shares a small plot on the south edge of the fairgrounds with James Johnson, who was also born in Ohio, in 1836.
Johnson moved to Carson City around 1870 and worked on various ranches in the area. He lived at the poor farm intermittently from March 1909 until his death April 13, 1910. Both men paid $10 a month to live at the farm.
Details are hazy as to when the poor farm ceased to operate, but in the 1960s, plans were undertaken to build a rodeo arena and fairgrounds in the area. Ormsby County 4-H Council gave Carson City almost 10 acres of property on which to build the rodeo arena.
In 1965, Carson City received $20,000 from Fuji and Basil Woon. The Woons left the city the money in a will stipulating that the money must be used to build a picnic area named Fuji Park near Carson City.
Park plans at the time show the addition of a wagon museum and a large fair and exhibit area.
The facilities that make up the fairground were phased in over the years and many plans to develop the area into something greater have fallen through.
A plan to build a massive equestrian center failed in 1984.
The city issued a $3.8 million park bond in 1986 to help with improvements at the fairgrounds, included the exhibit hall, a 40-stall barn and restrooms, all completed around 1990. City officials also completed a master plan for the park in 1990.
Fairground planners hoped to create a facility with extra livestock arenas that would rival the Reno Livestock Event Center for fairground-type events.
In 1992, an old polo arena was converted into a go-cart racing facility called the Outlaw Speedway.
In 1996, the city began to deal with Bar-One Enterprises of Gardnerville to build a 5,000-seat indoor arena for livestock events, concerts and other events. It appeared to be a done deal until Bar-One approached the city in 1998 with an 11th-hour request to add more than 100 slot machines to the events center.
Opportunities to improve the park are often put aside as new ideas to develop the park surface, Kastens said.
He said about $275,000 is earmarked to add a sprinkler system to Fuji Park, but that plan will wait as have other improvement plans until the city decides what to do with the Costco land deal.
Carson City Fairgrounds and Fuji Park time line:
1886: Carson City buys the site known as Fuji Park and the potential Costco site from George and Ellen Bath and $2,000 another small parcel from J.J. Abraham for $175 in gold .
1860s-1940s: Home to the Ormsby County Poor Farm
1963: Ormsby County 4-H Council gives property to Carson City to develop rodeo grounds
1965: Picnic area known as Fuji Park constructed with $20,000 left to the city by the late Fuji and Basil Woon.
1984: Plans for an equestrian center were explored but failed.
1986: The park bond issue passed, giving the parks department $3.8 million to improve parks. Improvements at Fuji Park included the Exhibit Hall, 40-stall barn and restroom.
1990: Master plan for fairgrounds completed. Exhibit Hall with bathrooms and kitchen were completed as well as a bathroom facility near the rodeo grounds.
1992: Go-cart facilities constructed.
1994: Wooden bleachers replaced by 1,000-seat grandstand.
1996: Future plans for the park were put on hold because of the Bar-One proposal to build an events center
1998: City quashes Bar-one plans.
1999: Costco announces interest in 15 acres of fairground overflow parking.