37 Weird Things to Visit in Carson Valley

sharkeys in gardnerville

August is #WeirdNevada month, and as you can see here, Carson Valley has plenty of weird things to add to your list of things to see and do. Nevadans aren’t afraid to let our freak flags fly, as you shall see. 

Let’s start in Genoa…

This list could quite possibly be all Genoa, but we’re keeping it real. Kicking off the list is Genoa Bar, the oldest thirst parlor in Nevada!
no horses in genoa bar1. One of the first things you’ll notice upon arrival is the very low door handle and the traditional “No Horses” sign hanging in front of said door. Just in case the sign isn’t specific enough, the low handle means someone astride a horse couldn’t possibly turn the knob. Apparently this has been a problem in the past.

2. No one wants to see a picture of a men’s restroom so let’s just leave this right here: some real ingenuity went into the decor.

3. Across the street from the oldest bar, is the self proclaimed “Newest Bar” in Genoa. Pop in to the Genoa Station for a great pizza and maybe a margarita.

4. A town as old as Genoa has some skeletons in its closet and the Hanging Tree on Genoa Lane is one of them. Learn more about this macabre story HERE.

5. If you’ve ever wondered what an actual human skeleton looks like, wonder no more. Mosey on up to Genoa’s Antiques store and peek in the front window.

6. Willow Bend Rd. has an actual willow in the middle of the road.

7. Have you heard the saying “it’s not written in stone”? The legendary Snowshoe Thompson’s gravestone shows his name misspelled (Thomson). Find out more about this HERE.

8. The inventor of the Ferris wheel was inspired by a water wheel on the Carson River. Meet the inventor’s great-great-grand-niece at Sierra Chef in Genoa. Learn more about the Ferris Wheel HERE.

artifacts from mormon station state park

Mormon Station State Park is a wealth of information.
9. Not only was it a stop on the fabled Pony Express Trail where young orphans were the best job candidates,

10. you can also learn to speak fluent pioneer.

11. Weird or creative, the items former jailbirds in Genoa used to try to pick the door lock will for sure get your attention. 

In case you didn’t know…
12. Gardnerville is world famous. And a truly weird story is number 13. Sharkey’s photo with “the pig”. This pig was frozen and reused year after year in a display for Sharkey Begovich’s annual Serbian Christmas celebration.

14. Horses aren’t allowed in Genoa Bar, and other four legged friends aren’t allowed in Sharkey’s Casino.

15. Sharkey Begovich was known for his creativity, and one of his lasting legacies is the Cow Pasture Boxing event. It even made it to ESPN!

gardnerville dragon

16. We all know winter is coming, right? This festive dragon puts a smile on your face in any season.

jt basque logo

JT Basque Bar & Dining Room has a collection of photos and souvenirs featuring the patriarch of the restaurant, Jean Lekumberry. From their website: “As the years took their toll and Jean’s once heavy thatch of dark hair grew thinner, he began wearing the traditional Basque beret. That, and his perpetual cigar became something of a trademark, which one bar patron caught in a caricature on a napkin. That drawing is now etched on the front window and adorns tee shirts, keeping Jean’s genial spirit right here, as it has been for so many years.”
How many Jeans are there? We may never know.

18. While you’re counting the Jean’s, be sure to save some of your table wine until desert. Do as the Basque do and mix your vanilla ice cream in with your after dinner coffee, and put some red wine on your vanilla ice cream. As weird as it sounds, you wont regret it. 

Cross the street and you’ll see that Buckaroo’s has some weird stuff going on.
19. Grab a drink with the friendly barmaid, Lulu, watching over the bar.

20. If you’re a hippie though, you have a special entrance.

overland restaurant eagle21. Just down the street, pop into the Overland Restaurant and Pub and take in the giant Golden Eagle while wetting your whistle with their signature drink sharing the same name.

22. Is it a drive-in theater? Does it signal aliens? While those two things could be possible, this weird contraption is actually an old radio antenna perched on a corner in the east valley.

23. Heritage Park is a fun place for families to hang out and play a little, or rather, a large game of chess and checkers. Nearby is a rock labyrinth to wander through while you take in the beautiful scenery.

coffin races24. You’ve heard of foot races, car races, heck there are even Chihuahua races. But have you ever heard of a coffin race? Main Street Gardnerville closes off Slaughter House Lane every October to make way for the coffin and zombie stretcher races.

25. Walking distance from Heritage Park is the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center. There are plenty of interesting things to see inside, including a Bengal tiger. You may be asking yourself ‘why is there an exotic tiger in Gardnerville?’ The answer is of course because the tiger is the school mascot, and the kids are proud Douglas Tigers.

carson valley museum display26. Be sure to check out the beauty salon display, and the weird machine used to curl hair back in the day. The photo of the little girl is absolutely priceless.

Carson Valley is home to a lot of ‘firsts’, and this is definitely a weird one.
27. Stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst was discovered to be a woman upon her death. However, since she lived her life as a man, could she have been the first woman to vote? Learn more about Charley HERE.

28. Though not the weirdest first, Genoa does get to boast that resident Eliza Cook was the first female doctor in the state of Nevada.

Bently Heritage Estate Distillery is an amazing feat of technology and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Number 29 on the list are the pencil markings on the wall from the early 1900s. Workers wrote their names, and figured out math sums right on the wall.

30. Might be hard to find, but if you look carefully above a window frame on the third floor you’ll see an old coin. No one knows why it’s there, or who put it there. Rumor has it a coin by the window of a bar brings good luck.

31. Have you been to Khristopher’s Ristorante in Minden? If you have the chance to go upstairs you’ll find a photo of the starting line of the Boston marathon. Owner Fred Simons is in there someplace, and if you find him you may just earn yourself a free drink.

dangberg home ranch artifactsLet’s talk about a weird museum. The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is a beautiful display of early ranch life in Carson Valley. Here’s where things get weird.

32. You have to drive through a cow pasture to get to it.

33. There’s a hint of skunk in the air, probably due to a former resident keeping skunks as pets.

34. Less on the weird side and more on the cool side, the oldest known pair of Levi’s in Nevada is part of the museum’s collection. 

35. Due to the great demand mining put on timber, wood for building houses in the late 1800’s was in short supply. Because of this The Pink House, Dr. Eliza Cook’s house, and the JT Basque building (to name a few) aren’t in their original locations. Can you imagine moving a WHOLE HOUSE by wagon? 

topaz lake36. Nevada is an arid climate now, but it used to be at the bottom of the ocean. Topaz Lake is a remnant of an ancient ocean, now used as a reservoir with fishing and boating drawing crowds year-round.

37. Last but not least, when you’re munching on your tri-tip at Minden Meat and Deli you may get the feeling you’re being watched. Not to worry, there isn’t anyone actually inside the suit of armor standing guard.

Weird is just one way to describe our pocket of the eastern sierra, and we invite you to find your own adjective. Carson Valley can be creative, exciting, historic, and fun. Can you think of anything we missed that should be on this list? Email us at [email protected], and use #WhyCV on social to show us your #WeirdNevada. Save this Google Map to your phone or desktop to find many of the places on this list.