Historical society seeks help from county to keep museums open
MINDEN – Time and money are running out for two Carson Valley museums and supporters are seeking help from the county to keep them open.
Hap Fisher, president of the Douglas County Historical Society, is asking for support to keep the Genoa Courthouse Museum and the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center open.
The society has about four months of funds left for use.
Members and supporters of the society plan to appear before the Douglas County commissioners at a 4:30 p.m. meeting today at the Old Courthouse, 1616 8th Street in Minden.
“We are hoping to have many people there to represent our interests in maintaining the area’s heritage,” Fisher said.
At that time, commissioners may authorize a 1Ú2-cent annual tax to support the society’s work of preserving the county’s heritage. That would be about a $3 cost per year per household.
“That amount is about $80,000 a year right now and as our population increases that will go up,” Fisher said. “Right now, we’re drawing out of our grants that we had and they’re disappearing.”
Fisher said that residents can help the society be recognizing its mission of preservation, by volunteering time and by calling their county commissioner.
The society is looking at future fund-raising opportunities to help create cash flow. Some of those opportunities include: possibly raffling off a car, a family picnic and a tea.
The society is also “appealing to our donors to see if they can increase what they’re doing,” Fisher said.
The Douglas County Historical Society began about 20 years – as the Carson Valley Historical Society – in an effort to preserve the heritage of the area. Last year, more than 50 percent of society members voted to rename the society the Douglas County Historical Society, thereby including the Topaz area and Lake Tahoe.
The Carson Valley Historical Society museums currently feature pictures celebrating the 125th anniversary of Gardnerville; the Van Sickle library gathered by a pioneer who collected history; a history of baskets; and an area for Native American arts.
“We’re trying to capture what Carson Valley and the adjacent area used to be like,” Fisher said. “It was an agricultural community with community spirit even through the Depressions of 1929 and 1934. No one went without food, no one went without clothes, and no one asked them to pay. It was real community spirit, so we’d like to preserve this and we’re asking for help.”
Fisher’s desire to preserve what is here comes from a life growing up as the son of a station master. At that time, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad came south from Stewart along what is now Heybourne Road. Fisher said that people could recognize the engine by the sound of its whistle.
“This has enriched my life but it also has led me to the desire to preserve what we have,” he said.
The society just agreed to a contract to preserve pictures from the Dangberg ranch.
“It’s a courtesy from us,” Fisher said. “It won’t end up as revenue, but it’s part of the heritage we’d like to preserve.”
When Dangberg emigrated from Germany, he settled in the area and brought many other families over from Germany by giving them land.
“He entertained people from all over the state,” Fisher said. “We have to be able to say who the people (in the pictures) are. It’s going to be interesting. This is part of what we are trying to do – preserve this rich heritage while it’s still here.”