By BEAU KISSLER | Moonshine Ink

In the mid-1800s, a powerful locomotive executive drew a slip of paper out of a hat to forever name a small riverside town in Nevada. Legend has it that the hat was filled to the brim with the names of brilliant composers and musicians because the man’s wife was an aficionado of opera and classical music. The year was 1868, the gentleman was Charles Crocker of Union Pacific, and the name he drew was Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Having both the railroad and the Truckee River run through it, Verdi, located about 11 miles west of Reno, was able to take advantage of its resources. Surrounded by dense forests, Verdi Lumber Company milled and supplied lumber from trees in Dog Valley for the booming towns of Virginia City and Reno during the 1850s gold rush, according to the Verdi History Preservation Society’s website. Verdi’s citizens also mined in these hills as well as harvested ice, which was shipped to Oakland by the Essex Ice Company, according to Barbara Ting, president of the Verdi History Preservation Society.  


Verdi has faced a number of challenges and changes in its 146-year history. According to Ting, about 20 major fires have devastated the town, 13 of which occurred between 1888 and 1944. Ting remembers the Verdi winters from childhood being much more than what they are today, with snow levels reaching 6 feet at times, and an incident when the train was snowed in. She recalls getting up, “being out all day, getting milk from the cows, riding horses, and getting back home at night.” Ting said that Verdi does not have the same pace as it once did — many of the ranches are developed and the “cows are gone, and the barn is falling over.”  

While these are signs of a fading era, a new one is being born in Verdi, with the notable expansion of nearby Reno. Major new developments are being considered for the town (see here), but the melody of Verdi’s persistence has always adapted and thrived in its steady progression through the years.


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