Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ormsby House Hits 15 Years of Dormancy

Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 8:16 AM


I missed a pretty major anniversary a couple of days ago. The Ormsby House has been under renovation for 15 years! It was on September 21, 2000, that the owners of the Ormsby House announced that they would be closing the hotel for a major remodel, and on October 29, 2000 at midnight they locked the doors for the last time. The above meme has been making the rounds on Facebook, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect!

The big post I did for the Ormsby House’s 10th anniversary, in 2010, has a history of that summer/fall of 2000 when plans for the remodel became public.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Decorations 2015

Posted Friday, October 30, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Another Autumn is here, and that means the west side of Carson City is crawling with Halloween decorations again. The Governor’s Mansion sets the tone for the whole neighborhood, and many houses put on elaborate displays.

Although I’ve been noticing a trend. I’ve been looking at and photographing these decorations every year for a decade, and I notice that the number of decorations keeps dropping. People move out, people stop doing it, several houses that have had elaborate displays in the past are now vacant or under renovation, or there are new residents that just aren’t as into the holiday spirit. For a variety of reasons, the awesomeness of Halloween on the west side is dwindling.

It’s sad to see it disappearing and I hope it’s a trend that reverses itself. But there are still quite a few houses decked out for the holiday. Enjoy this photo gallery, and if you can make it down for trick or treating tonight, these displays look so much better at night.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Ten Years of Around Carson

Posted Monday, June 15, 2015 at 7:06 PM


10 years ago I had an idea for a website. It was based on a movement that was actually kind of new back then, creating an entire website dedicated to a town or neighborhood, completely focused on things that were happening in that local area. It was called “hyperlocal”, and I wrote a post called “Hyperlocal Carson City” outlining some of my ideas. Also at the same time the Nevada Appeal was starting up a blog, and actually beginning to allow comments on some of the articles. It was an exciting time, and I felt the time was right so I launched Around Carson. At first there were ways for anyone to sign up and post, and it was much more than just a blog. There were photo galleries, and restaurant reviews, and I really wanted to build a place where people from all over the community could come together and build a site based on the shared contributions of many people. That didn’t happen, and it turned out to be just me as the only contributor, with maybe 2-3 other people that would chime in a couple of times a year.

So eventually Around Carson became what it is now, a single-voice blog about history and photos of Carson City. Since I’m the only one working on the site, it kinds of waxes and wanes depending on my interest levels. Sometimes I’ll have a huge burst of energy and do a big bunch of posts, sometimes I’ll lose interest and the site will sit abandoned for a while. That’s what’s been happening lately.

But don’t worry, Around Carson is not dead. It’s just kind of neglected. I didn’t want the 10-year anniversary to pass by without mention, though. And hopefully I’ll find the time and interest to get back into posting here. I really like some of the threads I’ve latched onto by making posts here. It’s a good creative outlet and I don’t want to let go of it. I just hope that I’ll still have some readers left when I do start back up again.

Until then, I have been semi-active on the Around Carson Facebook page. It takes a little less time and energy to post on there, so I do it more often. I’ll post small snippets, or a photo from around town, or link to something interesting going on. If you haven’t been paying attention to the Facebook page, you should check it out.

And keep checking back here. We’re not dead yet, and there’s sure to be new posts someday! Thanks for 10 years, and here’s to many more!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Carl’s Jr Closing

Posted Friday, September 12, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Earlier this year, one of the oldest fast food restaurants in Carson was torn down when the McDonald’s at Winnie was demolished. It was quickly rebuilt in the same spot, brand new and state of the art. We are now about to lose another one of the oldest fast food restaurants, the Carl’s Jr at the Carson Mall.

The McDonald’s at Winnie dated back to the 1970s. I’m not sure if Carl’s Jr is quite that old, but it dates back to the 1980s at least. Perhaps some old timers will remember exactly when it opened. Through the growth of retail and dining in Carson City, through the loss of other fast food franchises in the area like Burger King and Long John Silver, through several remodels of the Carson Mall, the Carl’s Jr has stood through the decades. But now its time is at an end.

The restaurant is closing today, the 12th of September. I went in yesterday and it was already something of a ghost town, fixtures being removed, half the menu items sold out, even the Coca Cola tap was empty, with no hope of ever being restocked.

I had heard rumors about Carl’s closing, back in the Spring when Sportsman’s Warehouse was built built and the Dutch Bros coffee was picked up and moved across the parking lot. The plan then was for some something similar to happen to Carl’s Jr. Just like the McDonald’s, this aging hulk would be torn down, making way for more prime parking spots in front of the mall, and a brand new Carl’s Jr would rise at the south end of the parking lot, a spot that had long been neglected and empty. It seemed like a sound plan.

Well that plan fell apart. According to the Nevada Appeal, Carl’s Jr changed their mind and decided to look at other locations in town. A comment on Facebook says it was the mall who didn’t want Carl’s as a tenant anymore. Whoever made the final decision, no new Carl’s will be built on the Mall property.

This isn’t the end of Carl’s Jr in Carson City, though. According to the same article, there are plans to build two new ones in Carson, one on South Carson street near the Toyota dealership (maybe on the empty lot next to Michael’s Cycle Works?) and the other out on Hwy 50 East. Those aren’t expected to open until after the new year, though. As far as I know, ground hasn’t broken on either of them yet.

So there will be a gap where you’ll have to go to Reno if you want to get your Six Dollar Burger (now only $8) or Chicken Stars. Maybe one day Carl’s Jr will come back, but for now, there will be a hole at the Carson Mall. Soon the building will be torn down (after fire department training) and the site paved over for more parking. Another new tenant is lined up for that front section of the mall, Action Home Furnishings. That is supposed to be open by October and work has already started on the space. There are lots of changes happening at the Carson Mall these days, and it seems to be more lively than ever.

The future just doesn’t involve drive-thru burgers.


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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Waterfall Fire Ten Years Later

Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Ten years ago today, July 14, 2004, one of the worst wildfires in Carson City’s recent memory began. A rogue campfire in the hills above the Kings Canyon waterfall sparked a blaze that swept through the mountains west of town. It came roaring down Kings Canyon first, destroying 9 homes before firefighters could push it back. Then it turned north and steamrolled through the Timberline neighborhood, burning another 8 houses. Firefighters stopped it before it could reach Lakeview and any lower into the valleys, but it still burned in the mountains for days. In all, 8,700 acres burned and 18 homes were lost, and the hills were scarred black for months afterward.

I took photos during and after the fire, and this year I went back and revisited some of those views to see how much healing has been done in the last 10 years. This view from Curry Street shows the fire before and after it swept through the hills here, blackening everything. Nowadays, the vegetation has completely recovered.

The furthest south the flames reached was Clearview. Back then, Curry was an out of the way road so the fire didn’t threaten much. Now the Galaxy Theaters sits right next to where the flames were turned back by a fire break. The fire break, and the scar from the flames, can still be seen.

The entire hillside along Curry was blackened.

Hardly any buildings were lost along Curry. This shop was one. It was rebuilt just a few months later and now houses The Wheel House.

The smoke plume started out small, but by midday downtown was coated in a thick blanket of smoke. Nobody quite knew how bad this fire was going to be, and the sun being blotted out didn’t help any. Carson Middle School was I believe the evacuation point for many of the people who were driven out of their homes by the fire. Most of them were lucky enough to be able to go back, a few weren’t.

The sides of C Hill burned so intensely that it looked like a moonscape.

Yet, the firefighters still were able to save the houses next to the hill. This photo was taken two weeks after the fire. The trees on the left didn’t even get scorched. Not one house on C Hill burned down.

On the back side of C Hill, and up Kings Canyon, is where the flames were most intense.

The morning of the 14th, firefighters were quickly overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fire, fueled by dry brush and strong winds.

This entire hillside was burned to ash, but nature has regrown nicely. A couple of burnt twigs still remain.

The houses at the top of Kings Canyon were hit worst by the fire. Some of them were lost completely, but firefighters were able to have a few victories and save some of them.

The parking lot at the top of Kings Canyon was a major staging area to try to keep the fire away from populated areas, but by the time it got here it was too intense.

The fire burned fast and hot, leaving the tops of the trees undamaged. Here at the trailhead to the infamous waterfall, nearly every tree had to be removed later, but a few did survive.

Ted Stokes’ home, the highest one on the hill, was one of the first to be lost. Rebuilding started the summer after the fire. But what was once a nice wooded lot is now just sagebrush.

Enough time has passed that there are probably a lot of newcomers who weren’t around for the fire. But for those of us who were in town then, we remember the savagery and power of this fire. With a couple of dry winters in a row, conditions are bad up in the hills again this year. We all need to be careful and make sure there’s never a repeat of the Waterfall Fire. It would be nice to be able to call it the “last” bad wildfire for a long time.


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