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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sparks, Nevada

I found this history on a Sparks, Nevada travel page a while back. I thought that it would give more back ground my Fathers Personal History. Someday when I write my own history I plan on including a short intraductory history of my ancestors and I figure that the more imformation that I gather the more complete I can be.

Sparks was an afterthought of the railroad's, created to the east of Reno in 1904 to replace Wadsworth as the big switching yard on this section of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Sparks grew up with the railroad.


Originally named Harriman after the railroad tycoon, Sparks was hurriedly rechristened to honor Governor John T. Sparks, whose ranch was nearby. This gesture of respect and admiration by the S.P. was made just as an anti-railroad rebellion boiled up in the legislature, eventually resulting in the creation of the Public Service Commission to regulate railroad tariffs.

Family oriented and hard-working, Sparks was so solid and dull that it sometimes became the butt of local jokes. Early example: "Reno is so close to Hell you can see Sparks."
In 1907 a reform-minded city council outlawed the popular local pastime of driving up to a saloon in a buggy and having drinks at the curb. Other than the endless banging of the boxcars in the switching yard and the clanging and hissing and whistling and squealing of the through trains in and out of the station, everything was quiet in Sparks for nearly 50 years as the little city grew slowly with the railroad.

In the 1950s Sparks changed. Acre upon acre of brown composition roofs blossomed up out of the brown dirt as one curbed-and-guttered subdivision after another appeared in the grazing lands on the northeast. For more than a dozen years the growth continued, and Sparks became even quieter as a residential community in which the railroad played a much diminished role. In the 1970s Sparks began to grow in a new and unexpected direction. Family farms and pasturelands south of the city were transmogrified into lowrise warehousing, small manufacturing plants and light industry connected by an asphalt grid of new streets.

Now Sparks is changing again. John Ascuaga gave Sparks its first skyscraper, and now the homely old business structures of Harriman are being replaced or restored to a confectionary Victorian dream of luxury and romance they never aspired to 90 years ago. B Street - oops, Victorian Avenue - is bright with lights and lively with public events the year around now.

Some of the architecture may be more Walt Disney than Queen Victoria, but there's no doubt that the vivaceous scene downtown reflects a brighter, more inviting character for Sparks than ever before. Sparks is Nevada's fourth-largest city and offers abundant services to travelers. The Chamber of Commerce provides area information at the little railroad station by the Pyramid Way freeway onramp at Victorian Avenue.

In Sparks any discussion of food starts (and sometimes ends) with John Ascuaga's Nugget, where a huge new hotel towers and immense parking garage were built on the enormous success of the eight restaurants - the Rotisserie Room, the Oyster Bar, Trader

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