I am really glad that I took the photos of this little community when I did. Earlier this month, many of the historical old barns, farms and over thirty homes were destroyed in a “prescribed burn”. The winds were gusting in excess of 70-80 mph and the fire raged out of control destroying everything in its path.
Sadly, there is no way to bring back the old rustic barns that were completely destroyed in the fire. Photographs are all that is left of them and it is sad that the wonder of actually visiting them and getting that “Way Back When” feeling is gone forever.
My prayers go out to the many families who lost their homes to this man-made disaster.
Franktown occupies a small part of the Washoe Valley, approximately five minutes drive North from Carson City , Nevada.
It was founded by Mormons in 1852, about a year after Nevada’s first permanent settlement, Genoa. In 1857, Brigham Young recalled all Mormons to Salt Lake City, Utah to defend against a feared U.S. Government action. Many of the Franktown Settlers answered the call and in their haste to leave had to leave everything behind, including their land to those who remained in Franktown. Most received little or no payment for anything they left there.
This resulted in having a curse placed on the residents of Washoe Valley by the town’s ex-leader, a man by the name of Orson Hyde. In 1862 he read a rambling letter to the Utah Legislature where he was then a member. In part it stated that if the new Franktown residents wouldn’t consider paying a fair price for the land that they had received, he wouldn’t address it again, but warned that…”You shall be visited by The Lord with Thunder and earthquake and with floods, until your names are known amongst men….”
In spite of this “curse”, Franktown prospered and grew thanks to a huge stamp mill that was built to process Comstock Ore. Also several sawmills were built to produce lumber for the mines during the Nevada Gold Rush. The V&T (Virginia & Truckee) Railroad had a stop there as well, until the ore ran out on the Comstock, that is.
By 1880, there were only five businesses still in operation there, then real disaster hit the valley. On February 2, 1881, the people of Franktown wondered if Orson Hyde’s curse on them had finally manifested itself.
Heavy rain falling in the mountains caused a manmade dam about two miles upstream on Franktown Creek to fail. The result of the flood destroyed the settlement and killed many of the residents.
If you look up high above the settlement of Franktown ( North), you will understand just how incredibly devastating the effects of the flood were. There you will see Slide Mountain. The first time I saw it, I was shocked. Half of the mountain has slid downward and appears to have been sliced almost in half.
*The flood and landslide of 1881 was not the first, nor the last of its kind on Slide Mountain. Another huge landslide occurred in 1983, destroying two homes, killing one person and injuring another three. This area is prone to earthquakes, as it sits on a fault.
Having given you a brief history of Franktown, I would like to share with you a few photographs of this area I took this week. In my opinion, this road(State Route 877) offers some of the most absolutely beautiful scenery in Northern Nevada. Rarely (if ever) have I found such a vast contrast in the landscape of an area as small as this. The arid desert landscape morphs into majestic ancient Oak trees then into a forest of towering Pines which line both sides of the road. Another turn and the eye is drawn to an old barn, dilapidated yet beautiful…a reminder of the past.
I continued onto old Highway 395 North towards Reno that day. I wanted to share one last picture with you, the Winters Mansion in Old Washoe City, Nevada. Gothic Style Architecture, which I happen to love!
Another journey coming soon…