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Mormons founded Genoa, one of Nevada's earliest Euro-American settlements, in 1851. A year earlier members of the church had opened a trading post here to serve the Emigrant Trail. By the mid-1850s a few hundred families, both Mormons and non-Mormons, had established farms in this fertile part of Carson Valley. When the Mormons returned to Utah in 1857, they abandoned their land and property, losing their political hold over the valley. In a few years Genoa lost its prominence, as other towns such as Carson City and Virginia City benefited from the Comstock boom. When the V&T Railroad bypassed Genoa and instead went to nearby Minden in the early twentieth century, the town fell into a state of decline. However, the farms and ranches surrounding the town continued to thrive by supplying nearby cities with produce and other agricultural products.

Today Genoa's small village center, part of a National Register Historic District, retains remnants of its past; most of the empty lots once had buildings. Numerous historic buildings have been insensitively remodeled, drastically altering their original appearance. In addition, rapid growth in the valley threatens the town's peaceful existence by increasing density and encouraging unsympathetic development. Subdivisions of oversized, pseudo-Victorian houses abut the boundaries of Genoa's historic district. Historic structures have been demolished and others are threatened. Hollywood images of “the West” have gained prominence, overshadowing the authentic surviving architecture.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta

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