The Mighty Truckee’s Finer Ladies

Spring is really the best time to visit Reno Nevada.  The snow is just beginning to melt, meaning that the Truckee River is wild and dangerous and beautiful.

Above is the RiverWalk, a popular place on a sunny day.  As you can see off in the distance, there’s still plenty of snow to melt on the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

These two kayakers wisely chose to paddle to shore instead of attempting to run the set of engineered rapids downstream used for professional kayaking competitions.

Along the river some of Reno’s older and more interesting houses have managed to survive the ravages of the Mighty Truckee.


The building above was once an elementary school and now serves as a art center.

The Lear Theatre may not look like much but it has an interesting history.  It was designed by Paul Revere Williams who famously lamented that most of buildings he designed he could not enter. You see, he was the first African American to be honored by the Architectural Institute.

Before it was a theatre it was a church attended by the Moya Lear, the wife of William Powell Lear of Lear Jet fame. Besides being the wife of a brilliant man, she was also the daughter of vaudevillians and apparently thought the need for theatrics more important than the need for church and bought it. Unfortunately this building is not in the best part of town and they’ve had to surround it with a chain link fence to prevent vandalism.


Across the river and high on a hill sit decaying mansions once owned by the town’s prominent citizens. A few have been extensively remodeled but today people with money prefer to live far from Reno’s squalid old town with it’s pawn shops, casinos and bail bondsmen on every corner.

Above, for Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors extravaganza, is the one door I was able to get a clear shot of.

This rather gloomy building always brings bittersweet memories.  It is Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral where for years my best friend’s mother attended Mass every single morning and then wandered the streets ministering to the drunks sleeping it off in alleyways.  She spoke for God whose language she alone knew.

Here’s a better shot from Bing Images. It’s not Notre Dame, that’s for sure but then it’s not in Paris.  It’s two blocks from the El Dorado Casino and the heart of Sin City North (Reno’s nickname).

25 thoughts on “The Mighty Truckee’s Finer Ladies

  1. I’ve never been to Reno and it looks different that I thought it would. I figured it was like Vegas, just smaller. It’s sad to reflect on Paul Revere Williams’s observation. What a different time it was.

    • The city never had much of a plan so it is much like LA – sprawled out in all directions into the high desert. Some sections are very nice but you need a car to get around and, except for the RiverWalk area, they’ve left the old town the way it was when I was a child.

  2. Wonderful to visit Reno here, Jan, thank you. I liked hearing about the history, the irony of Paul Revere Williams’ architecture, and other aspects of this old town. Really liked the photos, especially seeing The Truckee River, so grand, and the snow-topped Sierras in the background.

    • I’ve never seen the Truckee that high. Once the snow starts to really melt (and there’s a lot of it up there!) I’m afraid some areas may be flooded. Reno doesn’t have much of a plan for flooding!

    • I wouldn’t go up there but I have family to visit/take care of. Although there are some areas that are lovely this time of year, there’s not much to do unless you like winter sports or gambling.

  3. Wow those kayakers are brave, or just really good. With the amount of snow they get in the mountains even in a normal winter, you’d never catch me paddling that river during spring melt.
    Some pretty sights you shared here. I’ve only been to Reno once and apparently I wasn’t in the right part of town because we didn’t see anything other than casinos, strip malls, and parking lots.

    • The kayakers must have known what they were doing because they pulled out just before the rapids. The river was so high that they struggled to get out but they were on the other side. Too far to get good shots. Not too many tourists know about RiverWalk even though it is very close to the El Dorado, Circus Circus and Harrahs….

  4. interesting Jan. Never made Reno though I have friends there – no idea which part. I’ve skied in them there mountains too which was fun. I’d do that again. As for flood protection, that about sums up the whole of Britain. We have all sorts of protection but it always seems to have been designed for a different type of flood to the one coming next, or the water is wetter or thicker or more flowy or something.

  5. My only visit to Reno was seven years ago to attend a wedding and stay in the casino area. I found it abysmal and depressing and couldn’t wait to leave. Thank you for showing me this other side.

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