Named after Genoa, Italy, but pronounced juh-NO-ah, unlike its Italian namesake, the Nevadan town of Genoa epitomizes the American West. Founded in 1851, Genoa is Nevada’s oldest settlement, and it has the distinction of having had Nevada’s first court, hotel, newspaper, and even its first ‘thirst parlor.’
Like nearby Virginia City, which offers similar wild west charm, Genoa, Nevada has also played host to famous personalities such as Mark Twain. Twain is said to have thrown back a drink in Genoa’s thirst parlor, an establishment which is still in operation today. In more recent times, the town served as the set for the film, Misery.
Each September, camels, ostriches, and jockeys from around the world converge on Virginia City, Nevada for the former mining town’s International Camel & Ostrich Races. We attended the quirky event last year, and it’s taking place again this weekend for the 54th time.
In 2010, I was twice married – to the same groom. As if describing two seasonal palaces, my husband and I like to playfully refer to our two marriages as the ‘summer wedding’ and the ‘winter wedding’. Whereas some spouses have a difficult time remembering one wedding anniversary, we aspire to remember the date we met, the day of our engagement, and our wedding date x 2.
Wedding number one, the legal, summer-season nuptials, took place overlooking a shimmering Lake Tahoe, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our second marriage was celebrated in the chapel of the Heidelberg Castle, before friends and family who were able to make the wintry journey to the Doctor Zhivago-esque wonderland in Germany.
This past August, with a late summer sun overhead, we celebrated our second summer anniversary among magnificent Douglas Firs and a trio of pines (Ponderosa Sugar and White) of Tahoe National Forest. We recited the Apache Blessing that was read at both of our weddings, and reminisced about our whirlwind first two years together.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
For a scribe who’s been in Germany for the past ten years, there isn’t much of a better way to reconnect with her American roots than to visit the wild, wild west.
That’s just what Shawn and I did exactly one year ago when we spent the day playing in Virginia City, Nevada…
Once a mining boomtown, Virginia City previously claimed the title of the richest city in the United States. This was due to the Comstock Lode silver strike that occurred there in the late 1850s. The strike transformed prospectors into millionaires, virtually overnight.
It’s said that Virginia City is the ‘birthplace’ of Mark Twain, since this is where the former Territorial Enterprise reporter Samuel Clemens had the maiden usage of his now-famous pen name. He would go on to continue using his pen name during his Tramp Abroad, which included an extended stop in Heidelberg, Germany. In an age devoid of the airplane, he sure managed to get around!
Legend also has it that Twain was mugged in Virginia City. It was later discovered that the ‘mugging’ was conducted by Twain’s friends in order to provide him writing fodder.