The Old Carson Valley Creamery – Part 1


It’s like a stately old gentleman with a time-wizened face: quiet, even a bit secretive. But don’t you wish these walls could talk!

Back in the day, this was the Carson Valley Creamery. And if you got it going, this building could definitely tell you stories! About the spring of 1891, when local ranchers first gathered at Valhalla Hall to discuss the possibility of a new creamery. About how it was furnished with a steam engine, large ice room, and “Alexandra” centrifugal separator, imported all the way from Germany. You’d learn how its butter won hearts and graced tables in Virginia City and Carson City. And you’d definitely hear a brag or two about how its butter won gold medals at least three times at the San Francisco’s mid-winter fair.

Mural at Katie’s Country Kitchen, inside Carson Valley Inn.

The creamery’s operation was a well-oiled, efficient process. Local dairy ranchers would set out their 10-gallon milk cans beside the road for pickup by the creamery wagon — once a day in winter, twice in summer. At the creamery those heavy milk cans would be dumped into a large bucket to be weighed. The milk was then hoisted to a vat, where pipes would feed it into the “Alexandra” for the cream to be separated. Just twenty minutes later, the skimmed milk would be sent home with the farmer, to be fed to his hogs.

The Creamery produced — well, cream, of course. It also turned out its award-winning butter, carefully packed into solid wooden crates, and giant wheels of cheese weighing up to 28 pounds apiece.

More than a century later, you can still drive by and admire the old Carson Valley Creamery on Waterloo Lane. (Just please remember it’s private property, today). Imagine the creaking wagons, the snorting horses, and the clank of metal milk cans, back in the day.

There’s so much history still here, in Carson Valley.

Click here to read more of the Old Creamery story. 
Story and photos by Karen Dustman, a local author who shares her passion for history through her fun books, blog, and free history newsletter. Contact her at