Dear Readers – I wrote this post a few years back to honor Nevada’s 150th birthday. which was on October 31, 2014. Yes, arguably the nation’s wackiest and most haunted state was admitted to the union on Halloween. Happy Birthday Nevada.
One of the best things about growing up in Reno was we got Halloween off from school. If the 31st fell on a Saturday or Sunday, we’d get the following Monday off. If weather permitted, we kids would run down to the main drag (Virginia Street) to see the Admittance Day parade hoping to get a glimpse any celebrities who happened to be in town and there were generally quite a few. Among the many I saw were Red Skelton, Wayne Newton, Bertha and Tina (performing elephants), Bob Newhart and Shari Lewis (with Lambchops, of course.)
However, the Cartrights (from the TV show Bonanza) were the only regulars. I suspect their appearance was mandated by their publicists to prepetuate the myth that the show was actually filmed in Virginia City and not LA. However, the Cartwrights really did know how to ride horses. Little Joe, the cute one, always rode a pinto (and who cared about the other Cartwrights.)
They’re all dead now and probably no one under 60 remembers their show. But Halloween will always mean the Cartwrights riding down Virginia Street.
There are many haunted places in Nevada as it has over 80+ ghost towns, however, my favorite is Bowers Mansion. It was built in the valley between Reno and Carson City by Sandy Bowers, a man who struck it rich during the mining boom and his eccentric wife, Eilley. Rumor has it that their daughter, Persia, who died tragically at age twelve, haunts the children’s playroom on the second floor. However it could be Eilley, who, after her husband died broke, told fortunes and had seances in the mansion. Eventually she lost her home to debtors and moved to San Francisco where she died penniless and desparate. Nevada is full of tragic boom and bust stories like hers.
To the right of the mansion is a county-owned picnic ground and swimming pool where I spent many an afternoon within view of the children’s playroom, Sometimes I could feel Persia Bowers watching me, always hungering for the life I lived. If I felt brave, I’d walk up to the tiny graveyard which holds the remains of the Bowers family. Strange things are said to happen up there: cameras refuse to work and a chill air prevails all year long. But it’s the overwhelming sadness of the place that always gets to me.
Okay, just to embarrass my children, here are some my favorite ghouls: