Monthly Programs

Historic Reno Preservation Society, in collaboration with the Washoe County Library System, offers its Educational Programs virtually through Zoom. These programs will be once a month on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. We will email members a link so they can register for these Virtual Programs.
Historic Reno Preservation Society's free programs offer topics related to Reno's history.
There will be NO program in December of 2020. Programs will resume in January.
Co-Chairs: Sheryln Hayes-Zorn & Kimberly Roberts

November 2020

Sharon Honig-Bear—A Taste for History

Sharon Honig-BearCome savor a visual history of local food, drink and the industries that surround them! "Edible Traditions" columnist Sharon Honig-Bear has fashioned a presentation based on her past four years of columns in edibleRenoTahoe magazine, with new images never published in the magazine. Discover unknown stories like sugar beet production in Fallon, Chicken Soup Hot Springs in Washoe Valley and the turkey farms near where Park Lane once stood. The presentation is fast-moving and full of surprises about your backyard—the food that was once enjoyed in the area.

Sharon Honig-Bear is a long-time Board member, Past President and tour leader for Historic Reno Preservation Society. She was a restaurant columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal and is now a columnist for edibleRenoTahoe magazine.

Past Programs

October 2020

Jerry Wager—ALOS: The Hunt for Hitler's A-Bomb

  • Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 (first Tuesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Link to the Zoom Presentation Coming Soon

Jerry WagerGerman scientists split the atom in 1938; by all accounts their nuclear program is 2-3 years ahead of any other country. As war breaks out in Europe, Einstein writes to Roosevelt warning him about the development of a Nazi atomic bomb and imploring the president to begin a similar effort. Even as victories mount, General Eisenhower fears the German will deploy radioactive bombs against advancing Allied troops. In 1943, as part of the Manhattan Project, a clandestine group of scientists and military personnel, ALOS, are tasked with finding and capturing German nuclear scientists and their labs before Hitler can change the outcome of the war. Unforgettable and unlikely characters, poignant moments, suspense and even comedy characterize this piece of history. And a special twist: the Reno connection?

Jerry Wager's interest in the WWII ALOS operation stemmed from reading a book about the Hotel Ritz in Paris and it became a minor obsession after discovering the Reno connection to the story.

May 2020 Wednesday

John L. Smith—The Westside Slugger: Joe Neal’s Lifelong Fight for Social Justice

John L. SmithThe Westside Slugger is the powerful story of civil rights in Las Vegas and Nevada through the eyes and experience of Joe Neal, a history-making state lawmaker in Nevada. Neal rose from humble beginnings in Mound, Louisiana, during the Great Depression to become the first African American to serve in the Nevada State Senate.

John L. Smith is a longtime journalist and the author of more than a dozen books on some of the most significant characters in Las Vegas history. In three decades as a daily columnist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he garnered many state and national awards for his work. In 2016, Smith was named to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame and was part of a group of reporters to receive the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics from the University of Oregon, the Society of Professional Journalists award for Ethics, and the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism from Northwestern University.

May 2020 Sunday

Dan Theilen—The 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad: What a Difference It Made

Dan TheilenThe introduction of steam technology in general and railroads in particular changed the American West. That change was so pervasive that it dramatically affected the character of America and who we are. We don’t readily see it. This talk will point out the various ways the world changed when the rails joined the country.

Dan Theilen is the director of the Nevada State Railroad Museums, managing the three Railroad Museums in Nevada: Carson City, East Ely Depot, and Boulder City. He holds a M.S. in American Studies with a focus in living history at the RV Jenson Living Historical Farm in Cache Valley, Utah. There he restored and operated a 1905 Case steam traction engine. In his spare time, Dan enjoys turning beautiful lumber into sawdust as he clumsily attempts to make furniture for those who have not asked for it.

March 2020 Sunday

Dr. Christine Johnson, Collection Manager, Nevada Historical Society: Nevada State Board on Geographic Names—How Do the Mountains Get their Names?

  • Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Christine JohnsonDid you know that Nevada is considered to be the most mountainous state in the country? With more than 300 named ranges, Nevada's topography contains thousands of peaks, valleys, mounts, buttes, bluffs, cutoffs, mountains, points, and more. The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names has been in place since 1985, working to advise the U.S. Board on new name suggestions, research current names of features, and weigh in on controversies when presented. This talk will provide a history of the board, operational procedures, provide a look at why and how features get named, and highlight a few interesting and noteworthy features on the Nevada landscape.

Dr. Christine Johnson is the Collection Manager at the Nevada Historical Society and adjunct faculty in the departments of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno.

February 2020

Jim Bonar: Lincoln Highway 101 — The First Transcontinental Highway Across America

  • Date: Sunday, February 2, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Jim BonarThe Lincoln Highway was the First Transcontinental Highway Across the United States — what was it, when was it, and where did it go? This presentation features a lecture and slide show on the development and history of the Lincoln Highway, including how the highway crossed the US. This is part of our local history of Nevada, as the Lincoln Highway passed through Reno, Sparks, Carson City, around Lake Tahoe, and across Donner Summit. Do you know when you are traveling it around town?

Jim Bonar is a former high school teacher, having finished his career as a math teacher at Sparks High School. His retirement interests (in addition to skiing, hiking, woodworking and off-road extreme jeeping to name a few) is the preservation of historical trails, roads, and Western history. He became interested in "roads" as a young child in Green River, Wyoming while watching the traffic pass through town on Highway 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway. In the early 1990s, the Lincoln Highway Association was formed, and Jim became a charter member, and at this time is the Association's national Board member for Nevada. He has been giving presentations about western historical events around the west for some years, since retiring, and always enjoys passing on his enchantment of how the west was settled.

Samantha Szesciorka, Assistant Curator, Wilbur D. May Center: Wilbur D. May

  • Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Samantha SzesciorkaBorn on December 28, 1898, Wilbur May was the third son of David May, founder of The May Department Stores Company. Wilbur was a rancher, pilot, artist, philanthropist, and world traveler who lived in Reno from 1936 until his death on January 20, 1982. The museum's collection derives from over 40 trips Wilbur made around the world, and include T'ang Dynasty pottery, African masks, statues and artwork, Inuit scrimshaws, Egyptian scarab figures, Greek icons, wildlife dioramas and a shrunken head from South America. Also featured is a re-creation of the living room, bedroom, tack room, and big game trophy room from Wilbur's 2,600-acre (1,100 ha) Double Diamond Ranch in South Reno.

Samantha Szesciorka is the Assistant Curator at the Wilbur D. May Center and the Editor in Chief at Sagebrush Rider.

January 2020

Matthew Makley, PhD, Professor of History, Metropolitan State University of Denver: "The Small Shall be Strong, A History of Lake Tahoe's Washoe Indians"

  • Date: Sunday, January 5, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Matthew MakleyThis lecture will give a brief, historical overview of Washoe (Wašhiw) people whose ancestors began occupying the Tahoe region up to 10,000 years ago. The lecture highlights the fact that Washoe history is an important, and often overlooked, part of the region's history. It is also an important part of the national historical narrative. Topics covered will include the legal battle over Cave Rock, and the Washoe's unique use of the General Allotment Act in 1887.

Matthew S. Makley was born at Lake Tahoe and raised in the region. He graduated from Douglas High School in 1993, thus ensued years of wandering across the American west from university to university in pursuit of an education. He earned a PhD in Native American History from Arizona State University in 2007 and joined the faculty at Metropolitan State University of Denver the same year, where he is currently a Professor of History. Makley enjoys exploring the canyons, rivers, mountains, and deserts of the West, often with his wife and two adult sons.

Neal Cobb, Reno Historian: Harold's Club — World's Largest Casino

  • Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Neal CobbHarold's Club emerged from a hole in the wall operation at 236 North Virginia Street to become the largest casino in the world and helped to put Reno on the map.

Neal Cobb is a Reno native, born at Washoe Medical Center in 1939 when the city's population was about 32,000. Neal attended local public schools, served four years in the U.S. Navy, was involved in his family business, Modern Photo, from 1940 to 1955, and worked at Nevada's first successful FM station KNEV from 1953 to 1980. Neal fell heir to fourteen large boxes of old Reno and Northern Nevada photos and printable film after his parents died in 1985-6 and subsequently authored two books, Reno Now and Then, Books I and II. He has worked closely representing the Nevada Historical Society, having presented over 500 programs in Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada since 1988.

November 2019

Sarah E. Cowie, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno: "Community Engagement and Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School"

Sarah CowieThe Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, established in 1890 as a federally mandated residential school, attempted to remove Native children from approximately 200 tribal communities and assimilate them into mainstream society. A collaborative archaeology project at the school connects two seemingly disparate aspects of removal. First, archaeology, historical documents and oral histories illuminate the ramifications of children’s forced removal from their families and traditional homelands for mandatory school attendance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with repercussions lasting into present day. Second, several tribal members who participated in the archaeology project brought to light the far-reaching consequences of removing artifacts from the site, a practice that threatens to erase both their ancestors and their descendants from the landscape. Engaging young people and elders from several tribes enriched the interpretations and preservation efforts at this site, and demonstrated the knowledge and resilience of communities whose voices should be influential in archaeological research.

Sarah Cowie specializes in historical-period archaeology of the American West. She recently completed the book "Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School." She earned her B.A. in Archaeology from Mount Holyoke College, her M.S. in Industrial Archaeology from Michigan Technological University, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from University of Arizona. Prior to teaching, she worked in cultural resource management for several years throughout the United States.

  • Date: Sunday, November 3, 2019 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Kimberly Roberts, Special Collections, UNR IGT Knowledge Center: "History of Camping in Nevada and the Sierra Nevada"

Kimberly RobertsThis presentation examines the history of camping in Nevada and the Sierra Nevada, including the development of public lands for camping and the building of campgrounds, roads, and trails. The discussion includes an examination of the development of outdoor equipment specific to camping, and the many styles of camping, ranging from leave-no-trace backpacking, to luxury glamping. The talk will cover the popularity of children's summer camps and the history of groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Kimberly Roberts is a former HRPS board member and is currently a HRPS Program Co-Chair. She works at UNR Special Collections and has a master’s degree in history, specializing in history of photography, science, environment and landscape. She curated the camping exhibit currently on display at the IGT Knowledge Center on the UNR campus.

  • Date: Wednesday, Noveber 20, 2019 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

October 2019

David vonSeggern, Ph. D., Geophysicist: "Alexander von Humboldt — The Forgotten Scientist"

David von SeggernWhy do you suppose there are so many places in Nevada named "Humboldt"? They honor the famous 19th century scientist Alexander von Humboldt, who did not travel in Nevada but did travel in the Americas. Learn about the exploits and accomplishments of this great general scientist, how revered he was in his day, and why his memory has largely disappeared. Today, he is often called the father of ecology and his work influenced many famous scientists: Darwin, Thoreau, Jefferson, Muir, Goethe, de Bolivar, and Gauss.

Dr. vonSeggern worked in geophysics research at Phillips Petroleum Co. to enhance 2-D and 3-D images of the subsurface. In 1992, he became Seismic Network Manager at U. Nevada for the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) seismic studies. In retirement, he continued his seismological studies as emeritus at the Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

  • Date: Sunday, October 6, 2019 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Donnelyn Curtis, Librarian UNR IGT Knowledge Center: "The Saga of the Alfred Doten Diaries"

Donnelyn CurtisAlfred Doten (1829-1903) was an adventurer, a forty-niner, a rancher, a social sensation, and then a family man and journalist on the Comstock, and finally, a derelict succumbing to his weaknesses. His importance is as a diarist who kept a 53-year daily record of his life during a significant period of Nevada and California history. The University of Nevada, Reno acquired the diaries in 1961, resulting in a 3-volume, 2,381-page publication edited by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, launching Robert Laxalt's University of Nevada Press. It was an instant classic and became a valued source for historians. It was by necessity an abridged edition, containing less than half of the text in the original diaries. The web has opened up new possibilities to present the COMPLETE diaries, with enhancements and interactive features. A long-term project to bring the diaries online is underway, through a collaboration of Library and History faculty at UNR and the participation of dedicated volunteers. It will reveal fascinating stories of Doten and his diaries from 1849 to the present.

As a UNR librarian, Donnelyn Curtis has had several roles at the library, but her favorite is her current position in Special Collections, focusing on the needs of researchers. She has written and edited books and websites on library services and Nevada history, and has been involved with the Doten diaries for the last 10 years.

  • Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

May 2019

Debbie Hinman: "Harvest of Homes Tour Retrospective"

Debbie HinmanThe year 2019 marks HRPS' 10th year of our annual Harvest of Homes Tour. This talk will be a retrospective of some of our featured homes, along with photos and histories of the properties and their owners through the years. Our tour has highlighted homes from the 1870s through the 1970s, simple to elaborate, cottages to mansions. All of these homes were significant in their own way, whether it be their architecture, neighborhood, decor or inhabitants. For those who have not attended the Tour, here is your chance to hear their wonderful stories and "meet" some of the early residents of Reno without crowds or parking woes. Debbie Hinman has been the researcher and writer for the Home Tour Program since its inception; she is also a HRPS tour guide and managing editor of FootPrints, HRPS' quarterly publication. She serves on the City of Reno Historical Resources Commission.

  • Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2019
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Dr. Holly Walton-Buchanan: "Historic Ranches of Western Nevada"

Holly Walton-BuchananHow much do you really know about the first settlements in the Truckee Meadows and the Carson Valley? Have you heard about the mysterious cache of letters — written by early Reno pioneers in the 1860s to relatives in Rhode Island — found hidden behind a wall in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1980s? Do you know why ranches were so important during the Comstock mining boom, and how they managed to survive after the mines closed down? Can you identify the farm implements found at Bartley Ranch Regional Park and how they were used? Do you know what the prehistoric ancestor of our modern cattle was called, and where it lived? Finally, how did all those Spanish cows and horses get across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World? If you can't answer any of these questions, you need to come to Holly's presentation and learn about the ranching history of the Carson Valley and the Truckee Meadows. Holly Walton-Buchanan's family has been involved in ranching for over 100 years. She was an educator in the Washoe County School District and the Nevada Department of Education, is a long-time historic preservationist, and the author of four books about Reno's history.

  • Date: Sunday, May 19, 2019
  • Time: 12:00 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Please Note: HRPS' Annual Meeting begins at noon.

April 2019

Guy Clifton: "Reno Rodeo 100th Anniversary in June 2019"

Guy CliftonFrom a cattle rustler turned author to a world famous saddle rider to a rodeo clown turned movie star to a rodeo queen fit for all America, the Reno Rodeo has never lacked for great stories. Nevada history buff and author Guy Clifton will share some of the lesser-known stories in the 100-year history of the Reno Rodeo. Clifton is perhaps most known in Nevada for his work at the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he served for 22 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor. He is now a public relations specialist for the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. He is the author of eight books on Nevada history.

  • Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

ZoAnn Campana: "Reno MoMo"

ZoAnn CampanaIn the middle of the 20th century, Reno was experimenting with the architecture of the Modern Movement (MoMo). High-profile architects from around the country came to Reno to design some of our best known buildings during this time. Raymond Hellman arrived in town to become one of our most prolific and masterful modernist architects. Even preeminent local architect Frederic DeLongchamps, continually evolving throughout his career, contributed designs in the modernist mode. Come learn about the various hallmarks of the MoMo and how they manifested in our local built environment. ZoAnn Campana is a local Historic Preservation Consultant who serves as Vice President of the HRPS Board of Directors and is the architectural historian on the City of Reno's Historical Resources Commission.

  • Date: Sunday, April 28, 2019
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

March 2019

Neil Brooks: "Model Dairy and the History of Ranching and the Dairy Industry"

Neil BrooksNeil Brooks, a fifth generation Nevadan, offers a glance back into the history of Reno. His visual and comprehensive presentation shares the story of two pioneer families: the Peckhams and the Taylors, and how they helped establish the Ranch and Dairy industry in the Biggest Little City over a century ago. Brooks' presentation will focus on the development and operation of Rewana Farms, home to Model Dairy. Neil was born in Reno and grew up on Rewana Farms, located on Peckham Lane. He’s the Neil in Neil Road.

  • Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Mark Demuth: "ReTRAC Railroad Trench Project Archaeology and Architecture"

Mark DemuthMark Demuth, environmental consultant and University of Nevada, Reno adjunct faculty member, presents ReTRAC Railroad Trench project archaeology and architecture. When the City of Reno decided in early 2000s to create a trench to lower the railroad tracks that ran through its center, archaeologists associated with the ReTRAC (Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor) project had a unique opportunity to explore the evidence of thousands of years of human history. The trench — 2 miles long, 54 feet wide, and 30 feet deep at its lowest point — created a cross-section through the oldest part of the city and gave investigators access to eighty-three archaeological sites, two prehistoric and eighty-one historical. The sites record continuous human habitation along the banks of the Truckee River for over 5,000 years, allowing investigators to learn how the earliest inhabitants responded to changing seasons and long-term climate change, and to study the creation of Reno's early and modern infrastructure.

  • Date: Sunday, March 24, 2019
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

February 2019

Jim Bertolini: "Hooks, Hoses, and Houses: Nevada's Historic Fire Stations"

Jim BertoliniFirefighting and fire prevention have been at the center of Americans' definition of civil service since the early 1800s. Firefighting began as a volunteer effort, and remains a predominantly volunteer profession outside of the nation's larger communities that can afford professional fire departments. As firefighting progressed from the "bucket brigades" of the early 1800s to the engine companies of the Victorian age, the buildings that have housed firefighters and their equipment have evolved. This exploration of Nevada's historic fire stations will discuss the history of firefighting and firehouses in Nevada, and the ways these unique landmarks can be saved for future generations. Jim Bertolini is a Historian at the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (NVSHPO).

  • Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Dr. Catherine Magee: "Washoe Tribes and Tourism"

Catherine MageeDr. Magee's research explores the reciprocal relationship between cultural heritage preservation and tourism. Dr. Magee received her MS in objects conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware, Program in Art Conservation and her Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno. She worked in Asia, Central America, the Mediterranean Basin and North Africa as an Archaeological Conservator on both terrestrial and marine sites. For 15 years, she worked at the Smithsonian Institution and in her own conservation business. She is currently Director of the Nevada Historical Society.

  • Date: Sunday, February 24, 2019
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno