Nevada's Oldest Permanent Settlement

As early as 1848, this part of what became known as the Carson Valley was used as a camping spot for emigrants traveling to California. In June 1850, H.S. Beatie and a party of Mormons built a roofless log cabin and corral for use as a trading post, but it was abandoned by September.

In spring 1851, John Reese arrived with a dozen wagons, stocked with supplies, horses, and livestock to establish a permanent trading post. Soon, Reese completed a building and began cultivating crops such as wheat, barley, corn, turnips, watermelon, and other vegetables. During the summer, other Mormon settlers joined Reese and set up small farms and ranches, and by November set up a crude government.

The next year, emigrant travel increased through the area and the settlement grew. By the end of the year, a blacksmith shop was completed and the settlement took on the name Carson Valley. Ample water attracted settlers, who used it for irrigation, and in 1854 to power new saw and grist mills. In spring 1856, Orson Hyde laid out a townsite and called it Genoa, after the city in Italy. In December 1858, the famed Territorial Enterprise started publication in Genoa, before later moving to Carson City and Virginia City. The next year, Genoa reached a population of 200.

From 1860-61, Genoa became a stop on the Pony Express. In 1861, Douglas County was created as one of Nevada's original nine counties, and Genoa was selected as the county seat. A handsome brick courthouse was completed in 1865, and during the 1870s Genoa gained several fine stone buildings and attractive homes. Reaching a peak population of around 1000 during the 1870s, it wasn't long before traffic began to decline, eventually moving to a new route along the East Fork of the Carson River through Gardnerville.

Genoa remained small into the twentieth century. In 1910, the town was struck by fire, destroying the original Mormon Station, several buildings, and damaging the courthouse. Though the courthouse was rebuilt, the county seat was ultimately lost to Minden in 1915. Nevertheless, Genoa never lost its community pride, and in 1919 the now-annual Candy Dance was born in order to raise funds to install new street lights. Today, the little town has again grown to a population of nearly 1000. A handful of buildings dating to Genoa's earliest days remain, and the Mormon Station was replicated as a State Park in 1947.

Pony Express, 1860-61
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