“This is a fascinating, well-told story, with an unforgettable cast of characters. It enhances our knowledge of Reno’s past, and reminds us of what made Reno so unique and nationally prominent-both before and after it became the “Biggest Little City in the World” in the late 1920s.”

Eric Moody, Editor, Nevada in the West magazine,
past Curator, Nevada Historical Society

The Genesis of Reno:
The History of the
Riverside Hotel and the
Virginia Street Bridge

To Be Published September 13, 2016
by University of Nevada Press
Reno, Nevada

go to www.amazon.com


Over 157 years ago-before there was a Reno, Nevada; before there was a state of Nevada; and even before there was a Nevada Territory-there was a bridge over the Truckee River at a narrow, deeply rutted cattle and wagon trail that would one day become Virginia Street. There was also a small rustic inn and tavern occupying a plot of ground at the southern end of the log-and-timber bridge, catering to thirsty cowboys, drovers, and miners. The inn and the bridge were the first two structures in what would one day be a bustling metropolitan area, and to this day they still form the nucleus of the city they gave rise to.

The Riverside Hotel and Virginia Street bridge.
Men traveled south from farming valleys in northeastern California, crossed the bridge, and drank and supped at the inn, as they transported food supplies to the hungry miners at the Comstock Lode. They were joined by a few prospective miners coming from the east, or heading from the played-out California goldfields, to the Comstock mines, who also passed by. Standing at the bridge or the inn, a cowpoke could look around for 180 degrees and he would not see another man-made structure on the lonely, boulder-strewn Truckee Meadows landscape that surrounded him.

Today, descendants of these two structures are known as the Virginia Street Bridge and the Riverside Artist Lofts. The 111-year-old concrete bridge that was replaced in 2015/16 by a magnificent new structure, was honored for its longevity and unique character by placement on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980; and the Riverside Hotel, the forerunner of the Riverside Artist Lofts, was similarly honored in 1986.

This is the remarkable story of these two iconic landmarks around which a major western city has grown, and of the people, the events, and the community that played an important part in shaping their long history.