Completing the journey through Truckee River canyon
[Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a three-part column on the once-busy communities between Truckee and Verdi, Nev. The column is guest written by Tom Macaulay, who is Truckee’s senior historian and has studied Truckee’s history, especially the ice industry for many years.]
FARAD This community is 17 miles downstream from Truckee, adjacent to the right side of the highway. This is the location of the Farad generating station. The flume between the Floriston bridge and Farad is close beside the highway and is seldom visible. The roof of the forebay house is visible from the highway, just above the Farad interchange. The Farad site was originally a spa called Mystic Hot Springs. During cold weather, steam from the hot springs can often be seen along the left or mountain side of Interstate 80, above the plant. When the Farad plant was built, the Central Pacific Railroad built a siding across the river and this provided the only access to the outside world until Highway 40 was built in 1925.
MYSTIC Eighteen miles below Truckee, one mile below Farad on the CPRR was Mystic, a section house for the railroad. Charles L. Wiley had a dairy on the highway side of the river, opposite Mystic, to supply milk to families in Floriston. He later moved his dairy to Iceland. On Highway 40, before Interstate 80 was built, the Forest Service maintained Mystic Campground.
OLD STATE LINE This community was 19 miles downstream from Truckee. This is the original California-Nevada state line, surveyed by Houghton-lves in 1864. It was moved approximately three miles to the east, to its present location, by the Von Schmidt survey in 1872-73.
SECOND CPRR CROSSING OF THE TRUCKEE RIVER Camp 24 is 19-plus miles below Truckee and is visible from Interstate 80. It is at the east end of the long, level stretch of highway after passing the Farad interchange. The railroad now crosses back to the highway side of the river. This is sometimes referred to as the site of Hamlin’s State Line Mill or Linham station which were twenty one plus miles below Truckee. Linham was a lumber camp for the State Line Mill.
FLEISH diversion, approximately 20 miles below Truckee, was built in 1905 by the Truckee River General Electric Company. A wide spot alongside I-80 provides a view of the Fleish flume, across the river. The dam is out of sight on the river. The flume continues for two miles along the canyon wall, with one short section of ditch, and is one of the most prominent features of the canyon.
BELL CREEK enters the river 20-plus miles below Truckee and just below Fleish diversion dam. It was served by a suspension foot bridge from the railroad and was a watering point for the CPRR. Some records indicate that this was the site of Hamlin’s State Line Mill and property records and old stone foundations near the railroad give credence to the claim.
CALVADA, 21 miles below Truckee on the CPRR at the State Line surveyed by Von Schmidt in 1872 was a CPRR side track and passing track.
STATE LINE, 21-plus highway miles downstream from Truckee on I-80 is the present day boundary between California and Nevada. A prominent monument was removed to Truckee when I-80 was built and the site is now indicated by a highway sign.
FLEISH power house and forebay, 22 miles below Truckee, are visible across the canyon. Two spill-ways can be seen. One is for Fleish, the other is for the Steamboat Ditch which takes water from the river a short distance upstream. Fleish was named for the Fleishacker Brothers who financed the Truckee River General Electric Company. It had a post office from 1908 to 1909.
THIRD CPRR CROSSING OF THE TRUCKEE RIVER The bridge, just below the Fleish plant, is easily seen from I-80. It was originally called Manassas Bridge and the narrow canyon just below was called Manassas Gap. The railroad crosses the bridge to the mountain side of river.
MARMOL Twenty-three miles below Truckee on the CPRR, Marmol was the site of the Inyo Marble Company works. Marble was quarried near Keeler, in Inyo County, shipped to Moundhouse via the Carson and Colorado Railroad, then to Reno via the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, and then to Marmol on the CPRR. The Marmol plant was run by water power which was cheaper than the 100 HP steam plant formerly used at Keeler. Inyo marble was used in the D. O. Mills building in San Francisco and in Golden Gate Park. Water was diverted from the Truckee River by a dam at Manassas Gap. A private residence is now near the site. Marmol had a post office from 1891 to 1908.
FOULKS MILL Across the CPRR from Marmol was the site of Foulk’s saw mill, later Essex mill and Hamlin’s mill. It is now part of the Quilici ranch.
VERDI DIVERSION DAM Partially visible from I-80 is the Verdi diversion dam, 23.5 miles below Truckee, built by Truckee River General Electric Company in 1911. Several different diversion dams were built in this area but all have now been replaced by this one dam. Water was supplied to Coldren, Katz, Merrill ditches, Essex Ice Company, Verdi Lumber Co., and the California Sugar and White Pine Agency. The generating plant is below Verdi and is not visible from I-80.
FOULKS’ TRUCKEE RIVER COUNTRY CLUB was on the highway side of the river at river level, between I-80 and the river, near the end of the Verdi diversion dam. This resort, owned by the Foulks family, was on part of the old family homestead and opened in 1901. Access was from a passenger stop on the CPRR, which provided a sheltered waiting area. Abutments for the old pedestrian and carriage bridge to cross the river can still be seen. The site is now a private residence.
ESSEX Twenty-three miles below Truckee on the CPRR was Essex, a coal and fuel stop for the railroad. The settlement of Essex was in the curve of hills at the lower end of the existing fields.
ESSEX, MUTUAL AND CRYSTAL Ice Companies operated in the Essex-Verdi area. The Essex Ice Company was in the flat pasture to the right of the Verdi diversion dam. Mutual Ice Company was nearby. The Crystal Ice Company was on the edge of existing Verdi and the only remains are known as Marsh’s Pond.
DOG VALLEY and Dog Creek are to the left of I-80. This is the route discovered in 1845 by Caleb Greenwood and it still provides an alternate to travel through the Truckee canyon. It leads to Boca and Stampede reservoirs, Truckee, Henness Pass Road and state Route 89.
CRYSTAL PEAK Just across the California-Nevada state line, west of Verdi on Dog Valley Road, are the remains of Crystal Peak. It was a thriving community which served the local area and the trade over the Dog Valley grade until the advent of the CPRR. When the railroad was built across the valley from Crystal Peak, it withered and disappeared. A few foundations can still be found in the sagebrush. It had a post office from 1864 to 1869.
VERDI Twenty-five miles from Truckee, this town came into being with the construction of the CPRR in 1868. It supplanted Crystal Peak and Essex as the local trading center. The location of Verdi Mill Co. and California Sugar and White Pine Agency, it had a post office from 1869 to the present. It is now a thriving community which is influenced by the growth of nearby Reno.
Gordon Richards is the research historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society. Comments, story ideas, guest articles, and history information are always welcome. Visit the Truckee Donner Historical Society Web site at http://www.truckeehistory.tripod.com. The e-mail address is email@example.com. Leave a message at 582-0893.
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