It was hard to miss Mr. Baumgartner’s place. Over the years it had become a tired, old house that hadn’t seen paint in too many decades. On a well-worn porch, at the top of rickety steps, Mr. Baumgartner would greet the few visitors who might pass by.
His home occupied a strategic corner across from a small park. The road came to a T; a right turn took you a block to Vic’s General Store, and a left turn took you quickly out of town. There was no straight – only the park, where picnics were held.
Mr. Baumgartner had been old for many years when I met him. I supposed that he must have always been a genial man, as he would often entertain my friends and me with stories about days and people long gone. Those visits remain a pleasant memory these 50 years later.
The population of my hometown was about 700 people then; roughly the size of Carson City in 1860. Our family of nine comprised more than one percent of the population and, though we didn’t know everyone, it seemed everyone knew of us.
Carson City remained a small town for many years, though the 1870 census showed population growth to more than 3,000 people. The Comstock Lode, discovered in 1859, played into that growth. So, too, did Carson City’s role as a stop for the Pony Express from 1860 to 1861.
The Pony Express last delivery came within days of the first transcontinental telegraph service, and Carson City was the eastern terminus of the California lines. Those lines were connected to the eastern lines Oct. 24, 1861.
Carson City looked like it was on its way to rapid growth when a group of local businessmen founded the Nevada Appeal. They hired a well-known and highly regarded editor, Henry Rust Mighels, to build their new enterprise and to succeed where so many other attempts at local newspapering had failed.
You have read more about Henry in the days leading up to this special edition. I read about his life shortly after coming to the Appeal, and, when I learned his gravesite was at Lone Mountain Cemetery, I stopped by and paid him a visit. I still give him a wave and a reminder that we’re still in business at least once a week as I drive by the cemetery on Roop Street.
Carson City and the Appeal have a 150-year history together this year. Like any marriage, there have been good times and tough times. The 1930 census showed the population of Carson City stumbled down to as few as 1,596 people, and not much happened until growth began in the 1960s.
As the community waxed and waned and then waxed again, the Appeal and the back fence were the sources of community news. Little of note happened in Carson City that was not reported in the Appeal. I imagine just about every house that was built in Carson City has been bought and sold with advertising in the Appeal – some of them many times.
Carson City is 55,000 people today. Our sense of community differs a bit from when we were fewer people and our interests were necessarily more limited. We easily use newer technology to not only stay in touch with our community but also our communities of interest.
It is unlikely that we can predict the Appeal’s next 50 years and impossible to imagine the next 150. Certainly our future will be increasingly tied to digital technology. Our many digital offerings show much faster growth than print. It is safe to say it will also be more of a conversation than print on paper offers.
If we are to enjoy another 150 years together, it will still be rooted in our common interests in Carson City; our neighbors, our community.
The words communication and community have a common Latin root which can loosely be defined as “to make common.” We enjoy the shared experiences with our families, our friends and our neighbors. We find it in old stories told on a front porch, a picnic in the park, a letter via pony express, a telegraph, a newspaper and a website.
Carson City neighbors, we thank you for inviting us into your homes and sharing your lives with us for 150 years.
Mark Raymond is the publisher of the Nevada Appeal.