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Traveling the California-Nevada Trail

Here’s what some vacationing SSCS colleagues found on the road from Salinas to Reno.

Two of our SSCS associates had occasion to drive across California from Salinas to visit relations in Reno, Nevada. For those of you not familiar with that route, which covered about 305 miles one way, we’ve mapped it:

The above representation doesn’t show it, but on the trip our travelers passed through a series of regions with their own distinct landscape and flavor. That’s probably what you’d expect given that Salinas is only about 50 feet above sea level with typical inland coastal weather, while Lake Tahoe is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 6,225 feet and Reno sprawls across the high desert at 4,440 feet.

Travelling this route is like following history. Much of California’s march toward statehood was driven by a gold rush from 1848–1855 (a span of years during which the name, “49er” became affixed to those seeking their fortune). The Comstock Lode Silver Rush in 1859 did much the same for Nevada.

Along the road you’ll find many commemorations of this era’s people, places, and things including the statue of the 49er that leads off this post. This gentleman, cast in stone, kneels in the town of Auburn, a registered historical landmark located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas where our visitors stopped for breakfast. Auburn was front and center in California’s rush for gold. It keeps its downtown area aligned with the period in which it came to prominence:

Our intrepid travelers were in a hurry to get to their final destination, so they didn’t have much time to dawdle around Lake Tahoe, the “Lake in the Sky” that straddles two states. However, they did manage to snap this photo of a dock in North Lake Tahoe, the quieter, blue/green, less developed California side of the lake where outdoor sports rule in both the summer and winter months:

From this vantage point, our associates traveled their final 40 miles—with a 2000 foot descent—into their final destination, Reno. With a population of close to 250,000, “The Biggest Little City in the World” was the national gambling destination for Americans in the early and mid-50’s:

As the decade came to a close, Reno as a gaming haven became rapidly overshadowed by Las Vegas. With the proliferation of casinos in other states in recent decades, the city has made a concerted effort to transform itself into a business-friendly location that attracts corporations and technology companies. For example, Apple is expanding its huge data center in Reno and Tesla’s Gigafactory, which is slated to cover 5.8 million square feet, is due to open soon. That isn’t to say that Reno has completely dispensed with its roots. Its vibrant downtown is composed of modern casinos with their own attractions such as the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino. It has a 120 foot high mining rig inside, and a godlike gentleman we are convinced is Poseidon:

Take a few steps off Reno’s main thoroughfare, South Virginia St., and you’ll find yourself amidst the remains of old Reno, in many cases standing in the shadow of its newer, flashier side:

Since our travelers weren’t really big gamblers, they decided to take a side trip to Carson City, Nevada’s capital and a city that owes its prominence, if not existence, to the Nevada Silver Rush that started in the Comstock Lode not that far away. The area around the capitol itself is well kept and lush with trees, enough that it was difficult to obtain a shot of the venerable old capitol building in its entirety. Our associates decided to try a different approach and came up with this:

The tourist commission building is indicative of the older restored buildings that rise from the blocks around Carson City’s city center. Built in 1891, this beauty has served in the past as the USPS building and a courthouse:

Of course, as gambling is legal in Nevada, it’s not too hard to find some action not that far from the serious work of state government. Not quite a magnet for tourists like Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, or Reno, Carson City’s casinos can be a little more idiosyncratic and charming:

Our employees travel to many different places in the course of getting our customers up and running on our software. But sometimes they travel for fun, too. This was one of those times. We thought we’d share.

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