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Sierra Stories

  • Winter 2016: Did El Niño match the hype?

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 29, 2016
      Media headlines began popping up in the early summer of 2015: “El Niño is coming!” “Look out for the most powerful El Niño in history!” “Southern California better batten down the hatches!” It was enough to make one run for the hills; to the Tahoe Sierra, that is, where a blockbuster winter was seemingly guaranteed. After four dry winters, […]
  • June 1969: Rare Summer Flood on Truckee River

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 22, 2016
    It may not seem like it during our region’s current drought, but the Truckee River is one of the most volatile waterways in California and Nevada, prone to flood about every nine years. The most recent significant flood event was in January 2006, so the statistical clock is ticking. Considering our current situation, a major flood on the Truckee doesn’t […]
  • Crazy Sutro: Engineer with tunnel vision

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 15, 2016
      They called him crazy, but he contributed significantly to the success of the early West. In San Francisco, the name Adolph Sutro stirs memories of the spectacular Sutro Heights, Cliff House Restaurant and the cavernous Sutro Baths. But in the silver mining lore of Virginia City, Nev., Sutro is associated with the Comstock Lode’s famed Sutro Tunnel, a 19th-century […]
  • Ghosts of Gold Hill

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 8, 2016
    For most of the Comstock era (1860s to1880s), the towns of Gold Hill and Virginia City, Nev., were friendly rivals competing in prodigious ore production. Both cities were built on top of the great silver lode in western Nevada that created all the excitement. But once the mines went into decline in the latter part of the 19th Century and […]
  • Time warp for the Iron Horse

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 1, 2016
    The historical character and function of Truckee owes much to its location along the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Logging, ice harvesting, winter sports and tourism have long played a vital role in the region’s economy. For more than a century, Truckee has been considered the “Gateway to the Sierra” and a vital link to North Lake Tahoe. In 1914, May […]
  • Nevada’s Fight of the Century, Part II

    By Mark McLaughlin on May 25, 2016
    Nevada boxing promoters proclaimed it the “fight of the century.” The highly publicized 1897 bout between America’s heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett from San Francisco and lanky, British-born but hailing from Australia, challenger Robert Fitzsimmons, promised to produce an economic boost to the Reno-Carson City communities. Pugilist Bob Fitzsimmons won the 1897 Carson City fight. | Courtesy Nevada Historical Society […]
  • Fight of the Century, Part I  

    By Mark McLaughlin on May 11, 2016
    Nevada boxing promoters proclaimed it the “Fight of the Century.” The highly touted 1897 bout between America’s reigning heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, and lanky Australian challenger Robert Fitzsimmons promised to bring a much-needed economic boost to the Reno and Carson City economies. Both communities were suffering from a 20-year financial depression due to the decline of Virginia City’s Comstock […]
  • Kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr.

    By Mark McLaughlin on April 6, 2016
      Frank Sinatra Jr. died on March 17, 2016. Obituaries detailed his life as the son of the legendary entertainer and his career as a popular singer in his own right. The media mentioned Sinatra’s kidnapping at Lake Tahoe in 1963, but offered scant details of his abduction. Here’s the full story. There was a full-blown blizzard raging on Dec. […]
  • Hidden gem at Diamond Peak

    By Mark McLaughlin on March 23, 2016
      Diamond Peak is probably the most overlooked and underrated ski resort in the Tahoe Basin. With an impressive 1,840 feet of vertical, a variety of ski trails and breathtaking views of Big Blue, Diamond Peak is well worth the drive to Incline Village. This hidden jewel has miles of uncrowded runs, open tree skiing and an intermediate cruiser called […]
  • Longboard Ski Racing

    By Mark McLaughlin on March 9, 2016
    There’s no doubt about it, the 19th Century longboard ski racers of Plumas and Sierra counties in California were the fastest humans on the planet. When snow conditions were right, these early speed demons rocketed down the mountainside at velocities approaching 90 mph. With an intensity often fueled by alcohol, ego and lucrative cash rewards, early longboard racers pushed speed […]