Historic ranches grab honors

RENO — Century-old ranches and farms near Fallon, Genoa and Las Vegas are being recognized for their contributions to Nevada’s history and culture, including one bought in 1875 for $20 in gold coin and one with an ice house built around 1887.

Five pioneering families who operate them will be inducted into the Nevada Centennial Ranch and Farm Awards Program during a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City on Oct. 9.

“Most people don’t think there is much agriculture in Nevada. These families prove we have agriculture and it’s been here for generations,” said Dennis Hellwinkel, project coordinator for the Agricultural Council of Nevada.

This year’s recipients are:

• Genoa’s Ranch No. 1 (established in 1909).

• Perfect Vista Ranches-Mathewson Ranch in Fallon (1909).

• Testolin Ranch in Fallon (1907).

• Bailey Ranch in Diamond Valley (1875).

• Bradshaw Ranch north of Las Vegas (1873).

A sixth ranch established in 1908, the Kallenbach-Ormachea-Sherman Ranch in Fallon, was inducted last year but also will be honored at this year’s awards ceremony.

“We are really pleased to sponsor this award to recognize those long-standing families who have been excellent stewards of their land,” said Bruce Petersen, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Nevada.

To qualify for the Centennial Award, the ranch or farm must have belonged to the same family for at least 100 years, and must be a working ranch or farm with a minimum of 160 acres, or if less than 160 acres, must have gross yearly sales of at least $1,000.

The program that began in 2004 has honored more than 30 ranches across the state.

It is sponsored by the Agricultural Council of Nevada, Cattlemen’s Association, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Farm Bureau and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Petersen said six generations have lived on the 120-acre Horace and Mary Newcomb purchased in 1909 near Fallon, raising alfalfa hay, grain and an orchard. Currently owned by Bill and Gwen Mathewson Washburn, the Newcomb’s great-granddaughter, the property still maintains an ice house built around 1887.

Antonio Testolin left Italy for America in 1901, eventually homesteading 120 acres in the Union District of Fallon in 1907.

He cleared the sagebrush and turned the farm into a produce garden, raising fancy vegetables such as eggplant and celery that he supplied to mining camps in western Nevada.

In Diamond Valley north of Las Vegas, Wilfred and Barbara Bailey run a cattle operation and raise hay on the ranch his grandparents settled in 1875.

Robert and Marietta Bailey bought the original 300-acre ranch for $20 in gold coin. An old barn and wash house built in the late 1800s are still in use on the Bailey Ranch.

Ranch No. 1, also known as the Trimmer/Giovacchini Ranch, dates to Nevada’s entry in the union in 1864. That’s when Col. John Reese staked a claim to the land and built the trading post known as Mormon Station in Genoa.

Jaime Bradshaw started the End of the Rainbow ranch north of Las Vegas in 1873. He raised fruits and vegetables to feed workers at the Delamar Mining Camp.

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