Author: Dennis Cassinelli

History: Artifacts Recovered from Lovelock Cave

In this, the second article about Lovelock Cave, I will describe a few of the thousands of artifacts recovered from the site between 1912 and 1924. The remarkable things about Lovelock Cave were the state of preservation in this dry cave and the amazing variety of well preserved objects that were found there. Llewellyn L. Loud first began recovering artifacts from the cave in 1912 after guano miners had finished removing tons of bat guano from the floor of the cave. Unfortunately, looters had already removed many items of archaeological value before Loud started his work. Despite the previous ransacking of the cave, Mr. Loud recovered many items of great archaeological and anthropological value. Approximately 45 sets of human remains ranging from scattered bones to complete mummies and human skeletons were found. One Mummified child about 6 years old wrapped in fish netting was given to the Nevada Historical Society. Loud recovered the remains of a newborn child with the placenta still attached. I recall the days in the 1960s when some of these remains were on display at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno before the insensitive public display of them was discontinued. Many examples of mammal remains were found in the cave. These included animals that had entered the cave seeking shelter, and others that had been brought into the cave as food by human occupants. examples...

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Why I Am Fascinated by Silver Dollars

My mother, Phyllis, was one of the first female blackjack dealers in the state of Nevada. She and her sister, Clare, worked for Harolds Club in Reno in the early 1940’s. General Manager, Raymond “Pappy” Smith was the first Nevada casino owner to hire women blackjack dealers to work in the clubs. His reasoning was that if casinos hired female dealers, more GI’s from the Reno Army Airbase would be attracted to the clubs. In those days, casinos used composition chips as much as they do today. However, they also used the common medium of exchange in Nevada at that time, the silver dollar, for many of their table games. Winnings were paid out in silver dollars and tips and even wages were sometimes paid that way. When I started school in Sparks, hot lunch for the week was 20 cents per day or one dollar for the whole week. Every Monday, Mom, being a blackjack dealer, would give me one silver dollar for my weekly lunch. I soon noticed that in addition to the Peace Dollars minted from 1921 through 1935, many were the much older Morgan dollars minted off and on from 1878 through 1904 and again in 1921. I was fascinated that so many of the silver dollars given to me for lunch money were made back in the 1800’s. One day, I noticed to my...

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History: a Visit to Lovelock Cave, Prehistoric Nevada

This is the first in a two part series about Lovelock Cave, located on a terrace of ancient Lake Lahontan about 22 miles south of Lovelock in Churchill County, Nevada. The second in the series will describe some of the hundreds of artifacts recovered from the cave. It was excavated in 1912 by archaeologists Llewellyn L. Loud and again in 1924 by Mark R. Harrington. It yielded some of the richest archaeological Treasures ever found in the American West. Scientists have determined the cave was inhabited by humans in several phases from about 3000 B.C. to about 1900 A.D. In more recent findings, the earliest habitation at the site may have been even older than originally determined by Loud and Harrington. In their classic book, “Lovelock Cave,” these two archaeologists collaborated to tell about the remarkable artifacts and human remains they discovered in the cave. I will describe many of these items in my next article in this series. Family members and I first visited Lovelock Cave about 20 years ago. I also worked on several highway construction projects in the Lovelock area and hiked around parts of the mostly dry Humboldt Sink, which was once filled with marshes during the time the cave was inhabited. More recently, Phil Hanna and I returned to Lovelock Cave to see the improvements that have been made there to accommodate visitors to...

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State History: Stagecoach Travel in Nevada

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), traveled by stagecoach across the Territory of Nevada in 1860 with his brother, Orion. At that time, the most convenient method of traveling any long distance was either by stagecoach, or by horseback. Twain wrote about his journey from Missouri to Carson City in his classic book, “Roughing It.” Several stage lines were in business during the Comstock mining boom to provide passenger service to the growing population of the region. Pioneer Stage lines, Wells Fargo and Butterfield were some of the stage lines that worked the area. Wells Fargo Stage Lines posted the following set of rules to be observed by passengers on their routes that give an idea of what some of the conditions were: 1) Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly. 2) If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of some is repugnant to the gentler sex. 3) Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it. 4) Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children. 5) Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort in cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver. 6) Don’t...

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Nevada History: Operation Haylift

When the record-shattering blizzards of 1948-49 threatened the lives of thousands of livestock, Operation Haylift flew into action. The winter storms of 1948-49 were the heaviest in the West since 1889, and thousands of residents and more than 1 million cows and sheep were stranded in remote regions of Nevada and other states. The mission was to drop bales of hay from planes to the thousands of hungry livestock on ranches around Ely and Elko, Nevada. U.S. government officials and Nevada ranchers and organized Operation Haylift to prevent mass starvation among the animals struggling in the frigid high desert. Hundreds of tons of hay and other feed were loaded into C-82 Flying Boxcars from airports in Fallon and Minden. Once filled, the giant transport planes were flown to operational headquarters based in Ely. Since most of the stranded livestock was in eastern Nevada, particularly Elko, White Pine, Nye, and Lincoln counties, Ely was the best staging area. On January 24, 1949, the first of 28 C-82 Flying Boxcars carrying bales of hay landed at the Ely airport. Since much of the livestock was in rough terrain and isolated canyons, an airlift was the only option. On the first day, 16 of the Flying Boxcar aircraft flew 18 trips and dropped nearly 75 tons of hay to the animals. Once the operation started, it ran like clockwork. Day after day,...

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