Saturday, September 15, 2012

City of Reno in Nevada named after Jesse Reno (1823-1862), an infantry commander and mathematician born in Wheeling, Virginia

The city of Reno in Nevada was named after Jesse Lee Reno, who was born in 1823 in Wheeling, Virginia [1]. The name Reno is an anglicization of  the French name Reynaud (or was it Renault [2]), which Reno's ancestors from France changed after their arrival in America. Thus, the name of Nevada's second biggest city has french roots.

In 1868 the American railroad executive and founder of the Central Pacific Railroad, Charles Crocker (1822-1888), named the Gold Rush settlement at the Truckee River after Reno. The Union General Jesse Reno, who was killed in the Civil War, was Crocker's friend [3].

This year is the 150th anniversary of  Jesse Reno's death. Reno died September 14, 1862, as an infantry commander at the battle of Fox's Gap in Maryland [4]. He never came to Reno; but he came close to it during the Utah War or Mormon War in 1857—seven years before Nevada became a state.

Even then, battling was not left to good luck: Reno was a Professor of Mathematics at West Point to design artillery [2]. Media are typically focusing on the Reno named after a war hero story. Obviously, Reno is also named after a mathematician; although one that is not in the league of E. T. Bell's Men of Mathematics

The name Reno is often associated with that of its sister city of Sparks and also with nearby Lake Tahoe, to which Reno considers itself as a gateway. For example, Reno's airport is named Reno-Tahoe International Airport. A professional golf tournament,  taking place annually at the Montrêux Golf and Country Club south of Reno, is known as Reno-Tahoe Open.

Keywords: geography, tourism, history, war hero, namesake, eponym, toponym.

References and more to explore
[1] Jesse Lee Reno (1823-1862) [].
[2] West Virginia Archives & History: Jesse L. Reno []. 
[3] About the Reno-Sparks Area [].
[4] Emerson Marcus: Reno honors namesake 150 years after death. Reno-Gazette Journal, September 15, 2012; page 3A (also .

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