News / Events

Nevada State Museum hosting community birthday bash for Glenn Lucky

CARSON CITY, Nevada – It’s a milestone birthday coming up this month for Carson City’s Glenn Lucky and the community will have the opportunity to take part in festivities honoring one of its favorite sons.

Glen Lucky rides his tricycle near the intersection of Fairview Drive and Carson Street on Monday, July 3, 2017. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

The Nevada State Museum is planning a birthday party on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. in honor of Lucky on the occasion of his 65th birthday. The event will be held in the Dema Guinn Concourse of the museum, 600 N. Carson St.

Lucky has been a familiar site on the roadways of Northern Nevada for half a century, riding his adult tricycle, advertising local businesses and bringing awareness to cerebral palsy.

“Glenn’s story is one for the ages and we invite the community to come celebrate him and his achievements on his birthday,” Nevada State Museum Director Myron Freedman said.

Born Sept. 27, 1952 in Coronado, Calif., Lucky was diagnosed with the cerebral palsy as a 1-year-old. Cerebral palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth.

His family moved to South Lake Tahoe when he was 3 and at 15, after surgery on both knees, he began riding a tricycle. It quickly became a passion.

Through the years he has logged tens of thousands of miles, including a ride across country to Washington, D.C., in 1988 to raise funds for cerebral palsy research and to promote Special Olympics. He donated the tricycle he used to make that ride to the Nevada State Museum in 2016.

Earlier this month, Lucky donated to the museum the Olympic Torch he carried on Carson Street in the lead up to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City along with photos of the occasion.

“The museum is proud to care for and exhibit such wonderful artifacts that help to tell Glenn’s story and to testify to his place in Nevada history,” Freedman said.

The birthday celebration will include a brief program, a round of “Happy Birthday,” and a birthday cake and refreshments. Admission to the concourse is free. Regular museum admission applies for access to the museum galleries.

For more information, call (775) 687-4810.

Carson museums team for a day of railroad history

CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Nevada State Museum and Nevada State Railroad Museum are teaming up for a day of history about one of the state’s most beloved artifacts and the rail line on which it operated.

The historic Glenbrook locomotive was built in 1875 to haul lumber from the mills at Lake Tahoe. Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

The 142-year-old Glenbrook locomotive – originally built to help transport lumber from the Tahoe Basin to the silver mines of Virginia City – was donated by the family of lumber magnate D.L. Bliss to the Nevada State Museum in 1943. For much of the next four decades it was on display outside the museum, where it was admired by thousands of visitors. In 1980, the locomotive went to the Nevada State Railroad Museum where it was restored to working order over a 31-year-period.

On Sept. 28, Railroad historian and author Stephen Drew will first team with the Nevada State Railroad Museum’s chief mechanical officer, Chris DeWitt, to tell the story of the Glenbrook from the time it was built in 1875 through the painstaking restoration process. Later the same day, Drew will be the featured speaker at the Nevada State Museum’s monthly Frances Humphrey Lecture Series, expanding on the subject of “Lake Tahoe’s Railroads.”

“By teaming up, the museums can provide a more in-depth look into this colorful chapter of Northern Nevada’s railroad history,” said Nevada State Museum director Myron Freedman.

“Shop Talk with Stephen Drew and Chris DeWitt,” takes place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St., and includes a book signing by Drew. The pair will discuss the important role the Glenbrook played in delivering timber from the shores of Lake Tahoe to the mines of the Comstock; and the restoration completed in 2015.

No reservations are required for this event. The cost is $6 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger. For information, contact Adam Michalski at (775) 687-6953 ext. 224 or amichalski@nevadaculture.org.

At 6:30 p.m. at the Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson St., Drew will give a presentation on “Lake Tahoe’s Railroads.”

In the 1870s, the Comstock Lode created an insatiable appetite for Tahoe’s virgin pine forests. The timbers would shore up underground mining and build communities approaching 40,000 inhabitants. As the mining boom subsided, the rail lines were repurposed for the burgeoning new industry of tourism.

Drew has been researching railroads of the Comstock and Lake Tahoe region for 45 years. He recently retired after 35 years as chief curator of the California State Railroad Museum. He is the author of the book “Nevada’s Virginia & Truckee Railroad.”

Seating is limited in the museum’s South Gallery. The cost is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger. To reserve your seat, contact Mary Covington at 687-4810, ext. 224 or email mcovington@nevadaculture.org.

Nevada’s youngest executed prisoner subject of lecture

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Floyd Burton Loveless became the youngest person ever executed by the state of Nevada, when, at age 17, he was sent to the gas chamber in Nevada State Prison on Sept. 29, 1944.

His execution sparked a national controversy over the constitutionality of juvenile capital punishment. What led Loveless to his demise is a tragic story of family catastrophes and terrible decisions, many of which Reno author Janice Oberding details in her latest book, “The Boy that Nevada Killed.”

Oberding is the featured speaker for the September Writers’ Wednesday at the Nevada Historical Society. The event is Wednesday, Sept. 13 and starts with a book signing at 5 p.m., followed by the lecture at 5:30 p.m.

The author of numerous books on the paranormal, history and true crime, Oberding said Loveless’ story is one she has been wanting to tell for many years.

“I discovered Loveless’ story while working on another story and could not let it go,” she said. “The book is a culmination of 25 years work.”

The Writers’ Wednesday Lecture Series, held the second Wednesday of each month. The intent of the program is to highlight writers that specifically focus on Nevada, the Great Basin or the West in general. The authors talk about the content of their books, but also share details about the creative process.

Admission to Writers’ Wednesday is $5 for adults; free for members and children 17 and younger. Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to arrive early to get their seats. For more information, call (775) 688-1190. The Nevada Historical Society is located at 1650 N. Virginia St.

State Capitol opens to the public on Saturdays

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Public access to Nevada’s State Capitol is being expanded to include Saturday hours.

The 146-year-old silver-domed Capitol – the centerpiece of state government located in the heart of Carson City – will be open to the public on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning Aug. 19.

“The opening of the Capitol on Saturdays is another sign of Nevada’s strong economic recovery,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “Now, families and visitors from across the globe will be able to learn about Nevada’s unique and impressive history by walking the halls of our Capitol building and experiencing its beauty firsthand. From the newly-restored Old Assembly Chambers, where gaming was originally passed into law, to the Old Supreme Court, where precedent-setting cases were settled, the Capitol building is an important symbol of our state’s history.”

Free one-hour guided tours by docents from the Nevada State Museum will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Saturday and include both the exterior of the building and nearby memorials as well as the interior of the building. The tours are available for up to 20 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

The building includes numerous historic artifacts that range from portraits of past Nevada governors to sculptures to historical items showcased during Nevada’s Sesquicentennial celebration.

The Old Supreme Court and Battle Born Hall, which houses many of the sesquicentennial artifacts, are open on the second floor.

Visitors who do not wish to take one of the formal tours can take self-guided tours.

The Capitol remains open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours of up to 20 people can be arranged in advance by calling the Nevada State Museum’s Education Program at (775) 687-4810, ext. 237.

Who, who: Museum’s August lecture is all about owls

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Nevadans might be surprised to know their state is home to nearly a dozen species of owl, including the great horned owl – the largest nocturnal bird of prey in the state.

Owls occupy a variety of habitats throughout Nevada but are seldom seen by the public because much of their activity occurs at night.

“Unless you’re out at night in the right place, you’ll probably never see them,” said Jenni Jeffers, a wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Jeffers will share her knowledge of owls as the monthly speaker at the Nevada State Museum’s Frances Humphrey Lecture Series.

And she’ll be bringing some wingmen with her, so to speak – several live owls that attendees at the lecture will be able to see, including a barn owl and a great-horned owl.

The event is Thursday, Aug. 24 at the South Gallery inside the Nevada State Museum. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the presentation begins at 6:30. The cost is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger.

Jeffers earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wildlife biology from New Mexico State University and started her career as a wildlife biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

She also worked as a wildlife researcher for South Dakota State University, tracking large mammals such as deer and mountain lion using radio telemetry. She moved to Nevada in 2001 and has been the Western Region wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife for the past 16 years.

Jeffers is responsible for the survey and monitoring of all species of birds, including owls.

Seating is limited to this event and those who want to attend can reserve a seat by contacting Mary Covington at 687-4810, ext. 224 or mcovington@nevadaculture.org.

Please be aware that for the safety of the owls and the audience, photography will not be permitted at this lecture.

AT A GLANCE

What: Frances Humphrey Lecture Series: “Owls in Nevada” by Jenni Jeffers

When: Thursday, Aug. 24; doors open at 6 p.m. and lecture begins at 6:30.

Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson Street, Carson City.

Cost: $8 for adults; free for museum members and ages 17 and under.

Details: George Baumgardner, Ph.D, gbaumgardner@nevadaculture.org 775-687-4810, ext. 236.

Museums a part of life for new Lost City Museum director

Jenny Strayer might be one of the few who can say she had Henry Ford as her babysitter.

Well, technically, it was the Henry Ford Museum, where Strayer spent much of her childhood in Dearborn, Mich.

Jenny Strayer is the new director at the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada. She brings more than 20 years of experience in museums into the position. Photo provided by Travel Nevada.

“My father was an engineer at Ford and worked right across the street from the Henry Ford Museum,” Strayer said. “My mother worked in Toledo, right across from the Toledo Museum of Art. They would drop me off and the museums were essentially my babysitter. Literally, museums have always been a part of my life.”

And they will continue to do so as Strayer was recently hired as the director of the Lost City Museum in Overton, one Nevada’s seven state museums.

“Dr. Strayer brings a wealth of academic training and experience in managing museum and cultural collections of great significance,” Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums & History, said. “She is well-suited to lead the Lost City Museum as we continue to expand our public programming and access to our collections.”

Strayer has a Ph.D in American Studies from the University of Iowa, a Masters in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green University and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology-Zoology from the University of Michigan and brings more than 20 years’ experience in museums to her new position.

After moving to Las Vegas in 2015 to serve as a visual arts specialist for the City of Las Vegas, Strayer was working as an independent arts and culture consultant when she saw the job opening for the Lost City Museum.

Soon after applying for the job, she made the 70-mile drive to Overton to visit the museum.

“I was so intrigued by the convergence of events that resulted in the creating of Lost City Museum,” she said.

The museum sits on a prehistoric site that was once home to ancestral Puebloans, often called the Anasazi, dating back to 200 AD. In 1924, the ruins were brought to the attention of Nevada Gov. James Scrugham. He enlisted the help of archaeologist M.R. Harrington of the Museum of the American Indian in New York City.

Excavations of the site and similar ruins in the area began in 1924 and accelerated in the 1930s with the construction of Hoover Dam. Under Harrington’s direction, crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps excavated sites before they were covered by Lake Mead. In 1935, the National Park Service built the Boulder Dam Park Museum, now Lost City Museum, to house artifacts.

“The connection that it’s made in the lives of people in Clark County, all of those things were particularly intriguing to me,” Stayer said.

Her past museum experience includes serving as the executive director and curator at the Elmhurst Art Museum in Chicago; university curator at Rice University in Houston; and director and curator at SE Missouri State University Museum and Gallery in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

She said her goals at Lost City are to add more programming and events that will help broaden the exposure of the museum beyond the Moapa Valley, while also serving the local community as a gathering place and cultural center.

“It’s a wonderful museum,” Strayer said.

Red light women and a notorious murder subject of lecture

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Julia Bulette is perhaps the most infamous of the women who worked the red light districts of the late 1800s mining camps in Nevada and California, surely because of her murder in Virginia City in 1867.

But, as author Robin Flinchum discovered in her research, Bulette was hardly alone.

Flinchum is the featured speaker at the Nevada Historical Society’s monthly Writers’ Wednesday program on Wednesday, Aug. 8. The event starts with a book signing at 5 p.m. with the lecture starting at 5:30.

From the 1870s to the turn of the century, while countless men gambled their fortunes in Death Valley’s mines, many bold women capitalized on the boom-and-bust lifestyle and established saloons and brothels.

These lively ladies were clever entrepreneurs and fearless adventurers but also mothers, wives and respected members of their communities. Madam Lola Travis was one of the wealthiest single women in Inyo County in the 1870s. Known as Diamond Tooth Lil, Evelyn Hildegard was a poor immigrant girl who became a western legend.

In her book, “Red Light Women of Death Valley,” Flinchum chronicles the lives of these women and many others who were unafraid to live outside the bounds of polite society and risk everything for a better future in the forbidding Death Valley desert.

During her lecture, Flinchum will also detail how her research has prompted her to take a new look at Bulette’s murder.

The Writers’ Wednesday Lecture Series, held the second Wednesday of each month. The intent of the program is to highlight writers that specifically focus on Nevada, the Great Basin or the West in general. The authors talk about the content of their books, but also share details about the creative process.

Admission to Writers’ Wednesday is $5 for adults; free for members and children 17 and younger. Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to arrive early to get their seats. For more information, call (775) 688-1190. The Nevada Historical Society is located at 1650 N. Virginia St.

Motor cars, muscle cars and music at Railroad Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – It will be a weekend of classics at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Aug. 19-20 – with a mix of music, railroad and automotive history.

The McKeen Motor Car was operated by the V&T Railroad until 1945 when it was sold off and turned into a diner until 1955.

The museum will be offering rides both days on its two motorized rail cars – the 1910 McKeen Motor Car and the 1926 Edwards Motor Car. Each will be alternating runs throughout the day and attendees can purchase all-inclusive wristbands that allow unlimited rides and museum admission.

Built in 1910 by the McKeen Motor Car Company, the McKeen Motor Car – also known as Motor Car 22 – was operated by the V&T Railroad until 1945 when it was sold off and turned into a diner until 1955. It eventually was used as a storage space before it was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in 1995 and restored over several years. In 2005, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

The Edwards Motor Car was built in 1926. It came to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in 1985 when the museum bought it from Short line Enterprises.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, classic cars from the Karson Krusers Car Club will be on display at the museum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., giving visitors an opportunity to see some beautifully restored automobiles.

The event also includes free concerts hosted in cooperation with the Jazz & Beyond Festival both days of the weekend. Colin Ross performs from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Dale Poune performs Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Wristbands for the event are $15 for adults 18 and older; $10 for museum members; $5 for children ages 4-17; and free for children 3 and under. They include museum admission and unlimited rides for the day.

For more information contact the museum at (775) 687-6953 x224.

History walks benefit Friends of Nevada State Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – A walking tour highlighting the homes of former Nevada governors is being offered on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month by the Friends of the Nevada State Museum.

The Governor’s Mansion on Mountain Street in Carson City is one of the homes shown on a walking tour of governors’ residences in the capital city. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

The 9 a.m. tour, which is open to individuals and groups, is scheduled for Tuesday, July 25, Aug. 8, Aug. 22, Sept. 12 and Sept. 26.

Local history buffs Ron Roberts and Debbie Lane alternate as the tour guide. Much of the tour follows Carson City’s “Blue Line Trail,” a path through the historic district designated by a painted blue line and bronze medallions along the route.

The tour will include a look at the Governor’s Mansion on Mountain Street, where Brian Sandoval, the state’s 29th governor, and his family reside. Former Gov. Denver Dickerson (1909-1911) and his family were the first to live in the Governor’s Mansion.

The Stewart-Nye house on Minnesota Street was once owned by territorial Gov. James Nye (1861-64).  Another home on Robinson Street once belonged to Gov. John Jones (1895-1896). Other governors’ homes that will be viewed include those of John Sparks, Roswell Colcord and Reinhold Sadler.

The tour is free although tips are accepted and go to the Friends of the Nevada State Museum. Participants should meet in front of the Nevada State Museum, 400 Carson St. Reservations are requested for large groups.

For details, contact Debbie Lane at 410-790-0410.

Historic coin press returning to operation at Nevada State Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – In February of 1870, the sparkling new steam-powered coin press inside the United States Mint in Carson City struck its first coin, a Seated Liberty silver dollar with a crisp CC mint mark.

A crane delivers Coin Press No. 1 to the front door of the Nevada State Museum in Carson City in February 1958. It had minted coins at the Carson City Mint from 1870 to 1893. In 1958. it was at the San Francisco Mint, but was scheduled to be scrapped when the state of Nevada bought it for $225. Photo courtesy of Nevada State Museum

One hundred and forty seven years, millions of dollars, a couple of road trips and a healthy dose of serendipity later, Press No. 1 is still pressing metal into medallions in the same building in which it started.

“It’s still in operation, still doing what it was intended to do,” said Myron Freedman, director of the Nevada State Museum, which occupies the former U.S. Mint building. “We are pretty proud to be able to use it for its historically intended purpose.”

After being down for several months for repairs, the press is expected to be back in operation in September, pressing medallions for the public’s view and purchase – but with a variation. The medallions the press will produce will be smaller, 30 millimeters, than the silver dollar-size of past years.

The change is being made at the urging of a coin press consultant (structural engineers) from the Oakland, Calif.-based company that repaired the 12,000-pound press, from a restoration specialist at the Nevada State Railroad Museum and from independent analysts.

They say the striking pressure required to imprint designs onto the blank coins – between 150 and 170 tons – is more than the venerable press can handle. Switching to smaller medals, about half dollar sized, can be done with less strike pressure (a maximum of 110 tons) and therefore, less stress on the machine. Decreasing the tonnage will aid in the preservation of the press.

Finding replacement parts for the machine is difficult to impossible and in many cases the parts, and often the tools to remove and replace them, have to be fabricated from scratch. It also creates a dilemma for historians.

“Our number one priority as a museum is to protect the artifact,” Freedman said. “We love being able to produce these medallions and to share that process with the public, but we also must recognize this is an important artifact in Nevada’s history.”

Freedman said historical research has shown the press, which was built in 1868 by Morgan & Orr in Philadelphia, was designed to press at a much-lower tonnage than the 200 tons it operated at in its early years.

In 1878, it suffered a catastrophic failure, a cracked arch, which put it out of commission for a time. Machinists at the local shop of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad repaired it, and proud of their handiwork, replaced the original brass plate bearing the name Morgan & Orr with their own.

Between 1870 and 1893, the Carson City Mint produced nearly $50 million (face value) of gold and silver coins, including gold double eagles ($20) and eagles ($10), half eagles ($5), silver dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes and 20-cent pieces.

Today, coins with the CC Mint mark are highly prized by collectors and among the most valuable in the collecting world. An 1873 Carson City dime with no arrows – the only one of its kind known to still exist – sold at auction for $1.8 million in 2012.

“Over the last 45 years, the Carson City coins have just skyrocketed in popularity in the numismatic community,” said Rusty Goe, a prominent coin dealer, collector and author of the 2003 book, “The Mint on Carson Street.”

“You can’t have any more special relic than the coin press that made these coins,” Goe said.

The historic dime was certainly pressed in Coin Press 1, which was the only press at the mint until 1875. Eventually, three coin presses operated there as demand for the coins grew.

The Carson City Mint ceased coin production in 1893 and the presses were removed in 1899. Press No. 1 was moved to the Philadelphia Mint, where it was remodeled in 1930 to operate with electric power. In 1945, it was transferred to the San Francisco Mint and renumbered “5” to correspond with its place in the coining department there.

In 1955, when all coin production was temporarily halted at the San Francisco Mint, the old press was targeted to be scrapped. If not for an eagle-eyed Oakland newspaperman who was also an avid Carson City Mint coin collector by the name of Frederick Monteagle, the press might have ended up on the scrap heap of history.

“He’s the guy in 1958 who sent word to Nevada that they were scrapping the press,” Goe said. “We owe him a big debt of gratitude.”

Judge Clark J. Guild, founder of the Nevada State Museum, points to the V&T Railroad brass plate on Coin Press No. 1 when it was returned to the Nevada State Museum in 1958. It had been in use at the San Francisco Mint and renumbered to No. 5, but was scheduled to be scrapped. The state of Nevada bought it for $225 from the federal government. Photo courtesy of Nevada State Museum

With Monteagle acting as the middleman, Nevada State Museum founder Clark J. Guild and the museum board of trustees were able to buy the press for the state for $225 and it returned to its original home inside the Nevada State Museum.

For the next six years it was a popular artifact in the museum, but in 1964, U.S. Mint director Eva Adams, herself a native Nevadan, was faced with a severe coin shortage and requested the loan of the press. It was trucked to the Denver Mint and operated for the next three years, striking more than 188 million coins during that time.

In 1967, Press No. 1 returned to the Nevada State Museum for good and converted to a slower electric drive. Through the years, it has produced dozens of memorable – and collectible – medallions.

In 1975-76, it produced a coin commemorating the country’s bicentennial.

“That was a very important beginning,” said Bob Nylen, curator of history at the Nevada State Museum. “Over the years, we’ve done medallions for state agencies and the public and private sector. It’s been quite a lot of projects.”

Projects for the Pony Express, V&T Railroad Reconstruction, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, and Nevada’s sesquicentennial and, most recently, a coin commemorating the Nevada State Museum’s 75th birthday, have all been completed on Press No. 1.

One of the most memorable days for Nylen and longtime volunteer and coiner Ken Hopple, was in 2006, when commemorative coins were minted to coincide with the release of the Nevada state quarter.

A huge crowd assembled at the museum on that cold January day to acquire one of the newly minted “Spirit of the West” medallions, purchasing them as soon as they left the press.

Being able to see the historic press in action is something unique for visitors to the museum, Freedman said, and something the museum wants to continue.

“Thousands of visitors have been delighted to see the press in operation during demonstrations given by volunteer and local favorite Ken Hopple, and to purchase medallions in the museum gift shop,” Freedman said.

The Nevada State Museum is located at 400 N. Carson St., in Carson City. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admissions is $8 for adults; free for children 17 and younger.