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NOTES AND SKETCHES OF THE WASHOE COUNTRY.
[From Hutching's California Magazine, April 1860]
The next place exhibited by our artist is Carson City; a town that, having wholly grown up within the past year, has already attained a very respectable magnitude; not only eclipsing its older and politically more favored rival, Genoa, but advanced rapidly towards the position it must hereafter hold, as the great central depot, and distributing point of Western Utah. This beautifully located and promising town is situated on the west side of Eagle Valley, about eighteen miles south of Virginia City, and twelve north of Genoa. It stands immediately at the foot of the Sierra, which rises behind it to a height of more than three thousand feet, being covered with pine forests from its base to its summit.
Coming down from the mountain, and crossing the valley below, are numerous rivulets of pure cold water, which, with the springs found on the margin of the plain, afford ample supplies for the use of the town, (through which it courses in channels dug for the purpose,) as well as for irrigation.
Eagle Valley, containing an area of nearly one hundred square miles, is itself one of the most beautiful in a long series of mountain vales that skirt the eastern base of the Sierra. Watered by the Carson River on the one hand, and by the many rills mentioned on the other, with numerous springs, hot and
cold, pure and mineral, scattered over its surface; covered with green sward along its western margin, and environed by hills, it seems the perfection of landscape scenery, and every way fitted for the abode of man. Nature, in fact, seems to have destined this for an important point in the future of this
country. Here, by the configuration she has impressed upon the country, all the great highways seem compelled to center. Standing at the gateways of the Sierra, and on the threshold of the Desert, Carson City commands the passage, trade and travel of both; while her central position as to the
mines makes her the supplying agent for them; leaving her future growth to be determined only by that of the mineral districts around her. Which way so ever we would proceed from this point, a comparatively good natural way opens itself to us. Westward, leading out toward Placerville, a good route is found by the old Johnson Trail, over which a wagon road, much shorter and better than that now traveled by way of Genoa, could easily be opened. Going north-ward through Washoe, Steamboat and Truckee Valleys, by the Henness Pass, into the populous mining counties of California, we follow nearly all the way along a natural depression with a smooth surface, and even surmount the Sierra, scarcely being conscious of the rise. This town is also on the great Emigrant
Trail across the Plains; while southward it communicates with Carson Valley, the Walker River and Mono districts, by means of roads, over which, with very trifling expense, heavily laden teams might be made to pass.
Here, also, the entire country to the east, and for some distance north, must come for lumber, this being the nearest point from which supplies of this indispensable material can be drawn. Intervening between the country along the Lower Carson, including most of the mineral region, so far as discovered, and the Sierra Nevada, on which alone trees suit-able for lumber abound, is the Silver Range, a rugged chain, destitute of timber.
Carson City is laid out in regular squares, the streets being straight and wide; and, as the surface is perfectly level, no grading or other labor is required to prepare the lots for building. The soil about it is of such a nature that neither the mud or dust become excessively troublesome at any season of the year. Water of the best quality is abundant, running through the town in small ditches dug for the purpose. It is procured both from the springs adjacent, and the streams coming down from the mountains, which never fail, winter or summer. There were but two or three houses on this spot, one year ago; now there are over one hundred, and there would have been more than double that number, had lumber been plenty, even at the high prices men were willing to pay for it. Some of the houses are built of adobe, several of them large and substantial; suitable material for making these, as well as brick, being abundant in the neighborhood. Several kilns of brick were burnt within a mile of the city last summer. Most of the houses, however, are of wood, and some few of even less durable substances. The permanent and floating population of this place reaches from ten to fifteen hundred, and is rapidly on the increase. Property has also advanced at a corresponding rate, but is still far from having reached such a figure as the situation and prospects of the town seem to justify. It would of course be too much to affirm that this must positively become a large and opulent city; but it may safely be said, if any town of magnitude is to spring up in this transmontane region, nature, as well
as the mineral developments being made, clearly indicate this as the site of it.
In a ravine two miles west of the town, in the midst of fine timber, a steam saw-mill was erected last fall, but it could not supply one tithe of the demands made upon it, being of only moderate capacity, and not kept constantly running at that. Other mills of like kind are about being put up, and the prospect is that lumber will be both cheap and plentiful before the summer is far advanced. When this shall be the case, aided by brick, sand-stone and adobe, with not only lime-rock, but a species of natural cement near at hand; with improved roads, and the prospect of a heavy immigration meeting here next season, and a rich mineral district unfolding itself all around her, Carson City must become a large and thriving City, if there is to be any such within the limits of Western Utah ; and everything considered, it may justly be said to have a promising future before it.
Date Uploaded: September 15, 2007