Photos of old Dayton help fill in the blanks |

Photos of old Dayton help fill in the blanks

Ruby McFarland

You can’t possibly know how happy it makes me when a fact of Dayton history is found and shared with me. One of the new docents at the Museum, Pat Neylan, found an aerial view photograph of Dayton, circa 1940s. The photo answered a whole bunch of questions in my mind.

To start with, it shows where the Carson & Colorado Railroad Station stood before it was moved to its present location. It also shows the station master’s house (still standing on Railroad Street) and the route the train took through Dayton and beyond after it crossed the river.

One of the best things that jumped at me was the Chinese Ditch (Rose Ditch) and reservoir that supplied Dayton’s water up to the 1970s. It always tickles me when I talk to oldtimers who say it was a mystery as to what might come out of the faucet when it was turned on – crawfish, trout or tadpoles were among a few of the unwanted guests.

I had always wondered about the dredge and how it related to the big hole it created west of Old Town. This photo plainly shows how high the water table was back in the 1940s along with the dredge. The small amount of water still standing in the dredged hole tells the story about where the water table is now.

How do I know the photograph was taken sometime in the 1940s? Well, Emma Nevada Barton Loftus didn’t move into her house until Dec. 13, 1941, and her house is in the picture. Also, when the Nevada Department of Transportation was acquiring property in 1950, some buildings and houses were moved or torn down. None of that had happened yet in this photo.

You can plainly see the route of the traffic through Old Town, down Pike Street, around the corner of Main Street and down River Street, also the route of the Lincoln Highway. You can even see a bit of the Tahoe Beer sign on the Bluestone Building.

Longtime Dayton native Victoria Pradere told us about the gardens and orchards her father tended across from his store on River Street. The picture shows us plainly where those gardens were growing. Emma spoke of good Dayton corn and Del Minor confirmed that those are cornfields in the photo.

Old photographs tell us so much; it’s like being there. We have many old photos in the museum that help fill in yesterday’s blanks. We hope you will come see not only the photos but also the artifacts that tell the story of Dayton’s rich history, beginning with Nevada’s first gold discovery in July 1849.

The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check the Web site: Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.