Though O'Neil's Crossing, a small bridge over the Truckee River existed here as early as 1860, Verdi would not come into being until 1868 with the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad. When the CPRR selected the location for the new townsite on the Truckee River, the story goes that railroad executive Charles Crocker drew the name of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi from a hat, and so the new town of Verdi was named. Verdi's position on the railroad and river quickly drew business from nearby Crystal Peak, which had up until then been a lumber center for the region. The lumber industry continued to boom, with Verdi as the new hub, and a new ice industry sprang up as ice ponds were built along the rails throughout the eastern Sierra Nevada.

In 1900, the Verdi Lumber Company was incorporated, and work began on a new railroad to Dog Valley and the timber stands in California. Despite numerous fires (including major fires that destroyed much of town in 1916 and 1924), sawmills, ice plants, a box factory and planing mill operated and Verdi thrived for over twenty years. By 1924, the lumber railroad stretched thirty-two miles into the California wilderness. In 1926, however, yet another fire struck, this time destroying the large Verdi mill, lumberyard, and roundhouse. As much of the usable timber had already been exhausted by that time, the Company was never able to recover and the following year the railroad was removed; a small sawmill was rebuilt after the fire, but it too was closed and dismantled.

Despite the blow felt by the loss of the lumber industry, Verdi continued to hold on due to its location along Highway 40. The Verdi Glen Resort and Verdi Inn both served travelers until they, too, suffered from their own fires (see below), and in the 1970s Verdi was effectively bypassed by the new Interstate 80. Nevertheless, Verdi continues to survive as a bedroom community of Reno, with a population near 1500 and several new housing subdivisions surrounding what's left of the historic townsite.

See Also
Crystal Peak

Central Pacific Railroad
← Essex • Verdi • Ware →