Monday, September 22, 2014

Belmont & Manson: Truth or Not...

Las Vegas Review
Journal Thursday May 22, 2008
A mark of Manson

Cultist's name left in Nevada ghost town

Investigators just wrapped up a fruitless dig for bodies at Charles Monson's hide out in California in Death Valley, but you don't need a shovel to find what the Manson family might have left at one Nevada ghost town. If someone is around to let you inside the old Nye County courthouse in Belmont, you can look for it on a door frame on the first floor--a simple patch of graffiti that now carries haunting undertones. Many old-timers in central Nevada believe the mark was left by a member of the doomsday cult, maybe even Charlie himself. And though state officials and historians won't confirm the notion, they don't exactly reject it either. "I have more reason to believe it than I do not to believe it," said Eric Johnson, region manager for the Nevada Division of State Parks.

"It's hard tellin'," added Tonopah native and historian Bill Metscher. "To me, it's entirely possible."

Even State Archivist Guy Rocha, a man who has dedicated his career to busting fantastic-sounding historical myths, doesn't completely dismiss the story of the Manson family in Belmont. For one thing, he saw the graffiti himself decades ago.

"There is something there that relates to the Manson family. Whether they put it there, I don't know," Rocha said. "It's a long-standing belief. It's claimed. I don't know how you verify it forensically."

Longtime Nye County resident Paula Kniefel serves as caretaker and part-time tour guide for the courthouse, now a state historic site. She said the graffiti reads, "Charlie Manson + family 1969," with a peace symbol drawn in the O in Manson. Kniefel said it looks like a pocketknife was used to carve the words into the wooden entrance of what used to be the county recorder's office.

Belmont, 255 miles northwest of Las Vegas, had one full-time resident in 1969, a woman by the name of Rose Walter. Before her death in the late 1980s, Walter told several people about the time that Manson and his followers squatted in the abandoned courthouse for a short while.

"She swore up and down that it was them who lived there and left" the graffiti, Kniefel said. "She said they didn't bother her. I don't have any reason to doubt her."

Henry Berg grew up in Smoky Valley, one mountain range removed from Belmont. Now he and his wife, Bertie, own and operate the historic Belmont Inn, just up the hill from the courthouse. Berg said he knew Walter a little and heard a different story about her interaction with Manson and company.

"She went over there with a shotgun and run them off," he said. "It's lucky. They could have come back and killed her."

They didn't, and Walter lived on into her nineties. Now that she's gone, though, the only ones left who might be able substantiate the story are Manson or another surviving member of the family, Rocha said. For that to work, you would have to find someone who was willing to talk to you and who might remember, through the fog of time and illegal drugs, a brief stop in central Nevada a few months before the Los Angeles killing spree. Manson himself might be able to shed some light on it, Rocha said, but it would be hard to trust what he told you one way or the other.

"This has taken on layers and layers of lore," he said. "It's hard to know what's really there."

Similar questions have swirled around the Barker Ranch at the remote, southwestern edge of Death Valley National Park. Manson and some of his followers were arrested there in October 1969, a few months after they committed a series of grisly murders in Los Angeles. For years, there have been rumors about unmarked graves on the property.

On Wednesday, though, a team of investigators put those stories to rest with the conclusion of a two-day forensic dig that yielded no evidence of human remains. No one seems to think there are any bodies left behind from the Manson family's visit to Belmont. If there are unmarked graves in the area, they probably belong to American Indians from 100 years ago or more, Berg said. For a time in the late 1800s, the silver mining camp of Belmont was Nevada's second-largest community with about 2,000 residents.

The two-story, red-brick courthouse was completed in 1867 and served as Nye County's central offices until the county seat moved to Tonopah in 1905. The building stood open and abandoned for decades, falling victim to vandals and scavengers. Kniefel said someone removed the flooring from the assessor's office, and the building's doors, windows, baseboards and crown molding were all carried off over the years. The building was at risk of collapse when Nye County deeded it to the Nevada Division of State Parks in 1974.

Since then, the structure has been stabilized and sealed from the elements. Last year alone, the state spent more than $500,000 to strengthen and "seismically retrofit" the courthouse, said Johnson, who oversees the far-flung Central Nevada-Fallon Region of the state park system. There are plans to renovate the inside of the building someday, but based on the state's current budget situation, Johnson doesn't expect that to happen anytime soon. "To be honest, it's not even on the radar," he said.

When the renovations do get done, Johnson said, an effort would be made to preserve some of the graffiti left in the courthouse through the years, including one carving reportedly made by prominent Nevada businessman George Vucanovich, the late husband of former Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich. Without a doubt, the Manson family mark will be the highlight of the collection, Johnson said.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Delucchi Building

Standing in front of the Delucchi Building, built in 1948, it’s hard to imagine that Lake Street was once the center of Reno’s rich cultural heritage. You are steps away from the city’s long-gone Chinatown and at the portal to a neighborhood once known for its Italian hotels, Spanish hotels, Basque hotels, Jewish clothing stores and Jewish pawnshops, Chinese laundries, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants of a dozen nationalities. The first to settle in the area near today’s First (originally called “Front”) and Lake Streets were members of the Chinese community. Early maps locate Chinatown southeast of the current intersection of First and Lake Streets, on the north bank of the Truckee River. In the early years, Lake Street didn’t connect to Front Street, allowing the town’s primary business district to be kept separate from Chinatown. Front Street was only developed commercially in the years after 1904, when the two streets finally linked.

In the decades to come, more structurally sound brick structures moved eastward and southward from the central business district, including the Reno Garage, which took up most of the southern side of East First Street from Center Street to Lake Street.

The DeLucchi Building is one of the few vestiges of Lake Street’s ethnic roots (the Santa Fe Hotel being another), reflecting the strong Italian influence on the neighborhood. Builder Leo Delucchi was from a longtime Huffaker-area ranching family whose name still graces a lane near their original property in south Reno.

The building had four tenant spaces: two each facing Lake Street and First Street. For decades, the corner housed Cerveri and Goodin Drugs (later Cerveri Pharmacy), popular for its soda fountain and wide array of goods. The store, like many in downtown Reno, was severely flooded in 1950 but reopened days later. It finally closed its doors in 2000.

Other tenants through the years included a maternity shop called Stork Date Apparel, a beauty school, and a popular bar called The Phone Booth, whose vivid neon sign is now on display at the Nevada Historical Society.

Thank you:
Sharon Honig-Bear, “Delucchi Building,” Reno Historical

Monday, September 8, 2014

UPDATE: 150th Do-ins

Alright gents... You have until Friday this week to have your prepay paid. Go to this website to use PayPal or send the rub to the address on the site.

And we have roughly 18 days left til we see all you in Belmont!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Myron C. Lake Mansion

First off lets do a short "description" of Myron:

Myron Charles Lake (Feb. 1828-June 20, 1884), hotel-keeper/entrepreneur, was the hot-tempered, tight-fisted "first citizen" of Reno, Nevada. Between 1862 and 1873, Lake lorded over the town through his vast real estate holdings and monopolistic control of a vitally important toll bridge and road. He quickly assumed the posture of a stereotypical "robber baron," and in an unhappy marriage, often resorted to domestic violence. But he also wielded a keen business acumen and in so doing, ensured that the Central Pacific Railroad during the building of the great transcontinental project would run through Reno, thereby sparking the growth and prosperity of western Nevada.

Lake Mansion History

Where the Mansion stands today.

The Lake Mansion, built in 1877 by W.J. Marsh, was sold to Myron Lake in 1879. Lake is often considered the founder of Reno. In fact, his toll bridge across the Truckee caused the early settlement to be called “Lake’s Crossing”. The Lake Mansion was originally located near the river crossing at Virginia and California Streets in Reno where the “One California Avenue” building stands. (See Here)


The Mansion is a great example of the Italianate style house. With the hipped roof and veranda banding the house, it typifies upper middle class prosperity during the period. Well-detailed brackets, window frames, doors and balustrades testify to the quality craftsmanship which went into the structure’s construction. Among the impressive details of the Lake Mansion are the etched glass of the doorway, the period furnishings, and the carved woodwork over the sliding doors in the front parlor.

The Mansion has had 3 different addresses since it was built and the building has been moved twice. The first address was on the Truckee River and Virginia Street. In 1971, the mansion was threatened with demolition, but residents of Reno rallied to save the structure and formed the non-profit Washoe Landmark Preservation. The aging mansion was donated by the owners and moved to the Reno-Sparks grounds of the modern day Convention Center on the corner of Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street, which is now a small park across the street from The Olive Garden. It was moved around the same time the Liberty Bell Saloon was demolished (See Last Call for Liberty Bell).

The Lake Mansion at its second location at Virginia Street and Kietzke Lane.

In 2004 the mansion was moved once again to its current downtown location at 210 Court Street.

On July 11, 2004, the Lake Mansion moving slowly down Virginia Street.

July 11, 2004, Bruce and Barbara Goff, descendants of Jane Lake, in front of the moving mansion, at the original location of the mansion on Virginia Street and California Avenue on its way to Court Street and Arlington Avenue.

I got a chance to go inside the mansion. Here is my video... Sorry no audio.