CARSON VALLEY, BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
Carson Valley was the root for many a tall tale besides the ones that Mark Twain wrote about. It created a list of famous people around the 1860's with most of them into the mining business. But there were those who made their fame for other reasons.
Born in St. Lawrence County, New York, on March 24, 1826, Hank Monk for a third of a century was the best-known stage driver in the West. The best told story about Monk that came to print was from Horace Greeley comments to Hank that he took a little too serious. One day Horace came to Hank ask him for a favor. Greeley said he was running late and needed Hank to put the team to a test. Hank ended up putting the whip to the six up and Horace got the ride of a lifetime in 1859. Published so many times was the famous quote of Hank Monk hollering back to Horace, "Keep your seat, Horace, I'll get you there on time."
Now between Horace Greeley, owner of the New York Tribune, and Mark Twain who referred to Monk as the "King of the Stage Drivers" in his book "Roughing It", Hank Monk became the most legendary stage driver in the west.
Even though the story was told over and over again there was those who denied it to be true. Albert Richardson, an important contemporary writer at the time, said it was "apocryphal", and Mark Twain who came to despise the story, just said it never happen. Evidence proves, however, that the incident actually took place.
Now anyone who has read Nevada history knows this. However, do they know that Hank Monk had the habit of mending his denim work pants by using copper harness rivets? Wells Drury, the well known early-day Comstock editor told how Hank used rivets instead of buttons to repair his work clothes, and how the clothing manufacturer, Levi Strauss, learned of the success Hank had while traveling with him on a trip one day. Needless to say, they still use copper riveted pockets even today. Did you ever wonder where that came from, well now you know.
At the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a new ride was brought forth. It was a revolving wheel that held a large group of people at one time, and became the sensation of the Exposition. Invented by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1881. George was called the father of the Ferris Wheels ever since.
Guess where he probably came up with that idea. In 1864, young Ferris was but five years old when he first seen Genoa, Carson Valley. At the same time William Cradlebaugh built a toll bridge over the Carson River on the Overland Trail. Beside the bridge he also constructed a large water wheel to lift water from the river to trail-weary travelers and their stock and use in the dry periods to irrigate the hay fields. The wheel seemed to have a magnetic pull in attracting young Ferris. He was known to lie in the grass beside the river and watch the wheel perform its tasks, day after day after day. With this image stuck in his mind, I wonder how he came up with the Ferris wheel idea.
And then among the merchants and craftsmen in Carson Valley, there was a man named John M. Studebaker, who made wheelbarrows for the miners until he made enough money to go back east. There he founded a wagon factory, and later started making automobiles. Now this would be only just another story.
Many people and ideas came out of Nevada; it was not all gold or silver. Now days a lot of the fortunes made were based on the western gold rush and its money, take a look at the Hearst fortune!