Did you know … Tiny Floriston was once a thriving town?
Once, as many as a dozen small settlements clung to the hillsides of the Truckee River Canyon between Truckee and Verdi. Today, just one survives, Floriston, which prospered during the region’s ice- and timber-harvesting era in the 19th century. According to Gordon Richard’s Echoes from the Past history column, the Central Pacific Railroad built a section house at Floriston, located 15 miles downriver from Truckee. Then the Rocky Run Ice Company and Floriston Ice Company provided jobs for a growing community. In 1899, the Truckee River General Electric Company built a diversion dam at Farad, which washed out in 1997.
In 1900, the Floriston Pulp and Paper Company completed a paper mill next to the river, an enterprise that was once one of the world’s largest paper producers. The mill was later sold to Crown Columbia Paper Co., Willamette Paper Co. and Crown Zellerbach Corp., but was closed in 1930 after a number of lawsuits were filed claiming the mill was polluting the Truckee River.
The mill site was vacant until 1947 except for a watchman, when a San Francisco resident purchased the town lock, stock and barrel. Although the town’s economy disappeared, about 150 residents remain, most of whom commute to jobs in Truckee or Reno.
Although most motorists on Interstate 80 pay little attention to Floriston as they drive past, the small community half-way between Truckee and Reno has survived. Floriston even retains its own post office.