Just a short drive from the bustling town of South Lake Tahoe, lies the quiet little town of Genoa, Nevada. This historic town was the first established settlement in Nevada, in 1851. If you have never stopped by this ‘one stop sign town’ it is definitely worth a trip. As you enter town and look west, Genoa Peak (pictured above) towers over the town. Looking towards the South, the views look over the Carson Valley towards Kirkwood. As this town has more than just pine trees, the foliage in the fall is gorgeous.
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, you should stop by for the popular Candy Dance Faire occurring in Genoa Saturday and Sunday! This two day event features local artists, vendors, food, spirits and just like the name says, candy!
Historic Genoa, NV
You might feel like you have stepped back in time when you enter this little town. It all began with a gentleman by the name of John Reese when he and his party built a trading post in town back in 1851. This was when the town became a permanent settlement. Prior to this, explorers would pass through but none stayed permanently.
The town didn’t get its current name until 1855, when Orson Hyde moved there on orders from the Mormon Church to establish a government. Folklore says that Hyde admired Christopher Columbus, and named the settlement after his birthplace, Genoa, Italy.
Sadly, in 1910 a fire was accidentally started when a man burned a pan of sulfur under his straw mattress to eradicate some bed bugs. Unfortunately, his straw mattress caught fire and grew to burn down two blocks of the business district. After this devastating fire many of the established businesses moved to the growing areas of Minden and Gardnerville. Genoa was left a quiet town once again.
Perhaps the most well known building in town (for both visitors and locals) is the Genoa Bar. The building was built in 1853 with the inaugural name of Livingston’s Exchange, and known as a ‘gentleman’s saloon’. The bar still maintains its original charm, and you will immediately notice the large Diamond Dust Mirror behind the bar when you walk in. The mirror’s birth place was Glasgow, Scotland in the 1840s. Ask one of the friendly bartenders to shine a flashlight on the mirror and you can see the diamond dust sparkle. This unique thirst parlor has been visited by many famous people, including Mark Twain, Presidents Ulyssess S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt, Carol Lombard and Clark Gable and many more. Not too mention all of the musicians who have been here: Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Johny Cash, John Denver are just a few of them! You can feel the history when you walk in to the bar, and you will get lost looking at all the old photos, art and news clippings on the wall. And they also have fabulous drinks for those of age! Don’t be turned away by all the dust and cobwebs, it is part of the bars charm.
If you are in to ghosts, this town has a haunted history too. The Genoa Historic Ghost Tours will teach you all about the original Mormon settlers, Pony Express riders, the Genoa Bar and the Dake Hawkins House. This house is considered one of the most haunted places in Northern Nevada! Visit the local cemetery, walking distance from town and you can see John ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson’s grave (it is marked with a pair of skis).
Genoa, and Genoa Bar have been a location for filming in movies such as The Shootist (with John Wayne), Honky Tonk Man, Misery, A Place Called Home and Till the River Runs Dry.
The Candy Dance
The Candy Dance originated in 1919 to raise money for the small town. It was proposed that the town throw a dance and make candy to pass around. Essentially the candy was a bribe to get couples to come to the dance. The money was to go to the purchase of street lights for the town. The money was made, and the lights were purchased. However, the town then realized they needed more money to pay the high electric bills from the new lights. Thus, the Candy Dance became a yearly event to pay a year’s worth of electricity from the streetlights.
Since then the Candy Dance has expanded to included the Arts & Crafts Faire, which was added in the 1970s. Now the event occurs over two days, and the streets in and out of town are closed from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Saturday night is the big dinner dance, with a live band playing each year. During the days events, you can still go into the Town Hall and purchase locally made candy.
There is food and drink for purchase through various street vendors. The Country Store also sells food and beers, and the Genoa Bar will be open all day for drinks. The Genoa Courthouse Museum and the Mormon Station Historic State Monument (State Park) will be open for those interested in learning more about the history of this unique Nevada town. There are also a few antique shops worth visiting while you walk down Main Street.
This years event takes place this weekend, September 26th and 27th from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. The Candy Dance Dinner & Dance is Saturday night from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m (you must purchase tickets).
From South Lake Tahoe head towards the Nevada side of town. Turn right onto Kingsbury Grade/Hwy 207. Continue up and over the summit down in the valley. At the stop light, turn left onto Foothill Road. This will bring you past David Walleys Hot Spring Resort & Spa (also worth a visit) and into the town of Genoa!
There are Designated lots available for parking with Free Shuttles to the Faire for those who do not want to walk. Each lot is $5.
Foothill Road (south of Genoa)Genoa Lane (east of Genoa)
Jacks Valley Road (north of Genoa)
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