Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Genoa in Nevada supposedly named after Genoa in Italy

Genoa seen from trail to Genoa Waterfall
Genoa was founded in 1851 by Mormon pioneers as a Utah Territory settlement (Nevada came into existence ten years later). It served as a trading post along the Emigrant Trail. By 1854 the Mormon Station, as it was called then, had a post office, a newspaper press, a school—and certainly a church and businesses [1-4]. The boundary between the Utah Territory and California was not yet clearly determined around that time. In 1854 Orson Hyde from Salt Lake City was sent by Mormon leader Brigham Young to survey the new Mormon frontier settlement. Billie Rightmire, Genoa town historian and fourth generation Genoan [3], writes that “Hyde changed the name of the surveyed town site to Genoa supposedly in honor of Christopher Columbus' birthplace, Genoa, Italy.

The original Mormon fort was wiped out by a fire (started to fumigate a bedbug-infested mattress) in 1910 and Genoa lost its seat of Douglas County to nearby Minden in 1916 [4]. Nevertheless, the present replica of the trading post attracts daily sightseers and the humble settlement turned into one of the most attractive little villages in the American West, surrounded by an expansive system of scenic trails (including the Genoa Waterfall Trail, Sierra Canyon Trail and Discovery Trail) as well as golf courses and cattle ranches such as the River Fork Ranch, now owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy to benefit people and nature.

Keywords: history, geography, American West, place name.

[1] Town of Genoa: Town springs up from '49er trading post [].
[2] Margo Bartlett Pesek: Genoa, Nevada's oldest town, offers scenery, lots of history. Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 12, 2009. [].
[3] Billie J. Rightmire: History of Genoa [].
[4] David W. Toll: The Complete Nevada Traveler. The Affectionate and Intimately Detailed Guidebook to the most Interesting State in America. Gold Hill Publishing Company, Inc., Virginia City, Nevada, 2002; page 90.