The Reno Area, also known as the Truckee Meadows, was a drastically different place when I was growing up. The valley was filled with ranches and there were lots of birds, cattle, and thunder storms in the summer. It was very different from now. It was not a sophisticated place and to be truthful, it’s not one now either. Yes, sure there are still people trying to bring culture and class here, but they get beaten down by the strange little clicks that seem to exist in the valley, so I guess in that respect – that has not changed much. But the landscape has. We no longer have the daily summer thunderstorms, the heavy foot deep snow fall on the valley floor in the winter time, and hardly any cattle or birds left in the valley.
I guess the big turning point in the Truckee Meadows was the building of the MGM Grand Hotel out in the middle of nowhere. Well, at least it seemed like nowhere. It was not downtown Reno nor was it downtown Sparks, so it seemed like this giant thing placed in the middle of nowhere. It changed the nature of the valley and the people. And I don’t necessarily think it changed things for the better either. It may have made something better, but as a kid, I did not see it. We had a lot of strange desperate people move here hoping to instantly get casino jobs, and when they did not, it was rough on them.
We lived in the outskirts of town in a newly developed residential area across the freeway from the Double Diamond Ranch, which was this huge area that I believe had several ranching families working that land. It was this massive green section that was often filled with dark cows. And in the winter the pogonip frost would lurk like this mysterious deathly mist. I went to Brown Elementary School which was nestled onto that side of the freeway, and I recall fondly going for a walk down Old US395 with our teacher to visit the Fire Department down the road. The big ditches on each side of the road were filled with cattails and my friend Merritt had to get one of these for himself and decided he could jump across this ditch to retrieve one. This was not a good idea. Upon his return back to the road side of the ditch, he did not jump far enough and sunk into the mud almost up to his wast! My girlfriend Kelli and I pulled him out of the ditch before he could get into trouble for trying to get a cattail. Pretty sure we were not supposed to do that.
So, when I say that the Double Diamond Ranch area has a high water table….it has a high water table. No joking. That is where all the water run off from the mountain streams go, or at least they used to.
In our neighborhood the irrigation ditches always ran full with water and were fun to float flowers and sticks down. In the early mornings, we could hear calves crying for their mothers now and then. We even had mornings when the cows escaped from their pasture that was between our neighborhood and the new US 395, and one time they ended up on our lawn. I was excited, but my parents were not so pleased about the heavy cow prints in the lawn. They probably left other surprises as well such as cows tend to do.
So now, the land across the freeway is filled with houses and fancy commercial buildings. I know they tried to leave some natural wetland sections to deal with the high water table, and I love those sections, but it still lacks that immense natural wild beauty that it used to. The air smelled different when I was kid. It sounded different. It felt different. It was different.
Then my husband and I happened across this location while trying to find a certain pathway to take a walk upon. I wanted to see some of the natural sections they left in between the houses, but we could not find the one I researched and instead I saw this place. What a pleasant surprise. It was quiet and felt peaceful. I could hear and see birds. And it smelled like childhood. If you were here as a child before the MGM and the influx of people, you will know what I am referring to. It’s a strange sweet smell combined with water. So I took some photos and decided to share this lovely place that looks like old Nevada before it got hit with the harsh drought and so many people. It is worth coming out here and just feeling the difference.
The following are some of the photos I took of the remaining natural area out there.
G. Winkler (c)2014