Haunted Carson Valley

By Bryan Akerley

As the sun sets on Carson Valley this place that is so rich in history and filled with the earliest stories of Nevada settlements becomes quite a bit more chilling in the pale moonlight. The land first occupied by Native American tribes, later settled by the first Mormons of the West and shepherds hailing from the European Basque Country, is so, so dense with historical presence – just as dense as it is wide open and quiet when you drive down Highway 395 south of Carson City.

 

Next on our tour of Northern Nevada’s most haunted locales is the grand Carson Valley, where the lonely ghosts of wandering settlers roam the desert between the Sierra Nevadas and the foothills to the east, the farmhouses they once called home and the streets of Nevada’s oldest town. This is the haunted Carson Valley.

Of course there may be no place more allegedly haunted in Northern Nevada than its oldest settlement, Genoa. But before we get into the infamous characters still lingering among the town’s living, I invite you to venture east to the Dangberg Ranch.

You can easily visit the property where the founding family of Minden once lived and operated. Down a dirt path is the beautiful country home and preserved grounds where German immigrant Henry F. Dangberg lived and built the Dangberg Land & Livestock Co. Four generations of the Dangberg lived on this land, through prosperity and hardship.

A location with so much history is bound to host a spirit of its past. Ghostly sightings have been seen throughout the Dangberg Ranch. Perhaps the ghostly evening glow across the grounds is a Basque shepherd still tending to his flock. Or could Henry Dangberg himself still be watching over the daily operations?

If nothing else, the past is still very much alive in the grounds’ jarringly preserved collapsed buildings from a century ago, the staggeringly huge barn house and other spots around the property, still very much as they were in the early days of Minden. It’s so worth the visit – just make sure it’s in the light of day.

Photo: John T. Humphrey Photography Facebook

The Town of Genoa draws visitors from all around, in part due to its scenic spot just beneath the towering pine-riddled mountains and close proximity to Lake Tahoe. But a trip to Genoa is worth the educational experience alone. The small town is proud to be Nevada’s oldest settlement and the site of Mormon Station State Park.

Mormon Station is the mid-19th century settlement of the first Mormon pioneers venturing into the Nevada territory. It was a stop along the California Trail and it is now considered to be one of the most haunted places in all of Carson Valley. Around this time of year, many gather at the park’s grassy property for actual nighttime paranormal investigations. At the very least, visitors get a hands-on history lesson. At most, well, the station’s eternal residents appear – in some form or another – to visit the living.

It comes at no surprise then to learn that just across the street, more haunts have been known to occur. Incredibly restored from its awe-inspiring Victorian architecture and decor, the Pink House, so named for its bright pink exterior, is now a classy cheese and charcuterie restaurant elevating Genoa’s style. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s free from the town’s plethora of lost souls.

In fact, the house has been around for more than 150 years, though not always in its current pink state. It went through a few owners before landing in the possession of Daniel W. Virgin in the mid to late 1800s. Virgin and his family fostered a beautiful property with a cow, a horse and chickens until tragedy struck the family. Two of Virgin’s three children died untimely deaths, while the third, Lillian Finnegan, went on to found Genoa’s now famous fall event, the Candy Dance. Such a dramatic past has supposedly creeped into the present, with otherworldly experiences often happening within the Pink House and on its grounds. Surely, there’s only one way to find out. Photo: Sally Tucker Facebook

While many of these sightings are vague and credited only to secondhand sources, none are more terrifying than that of the Dake House. The owners of the antique store south of Genoa are so adamant of its haunting, they often hold ghost tours.

The Victorian home and shop nestled in the foothills of the Sierras is infamous for its ghostly story. As if the history of the house itself weren’t enough (C.W. Dake was Genoa’s local undertaker), the house is known for its possibly possessed painting.

The owners of the shop acquired an oil still life of pink roses in a vase that, before long, started flying off the wall, according to reports. Before long, the owners learned that the origins of this painting involved a spirit medium and a seance in San Francisco. This “spirit painting” would behave in such violent ways every time the owner tried selling it. Since, the Dake House has been visited by many paranormal investigators, all relating the presence of a spirit, specifically the roaming soul of an older woman. Visit the Dake House if you dare and browse its antiques, but be warned: Chances are high you may stumble upon something not quite of this realm.

Photo: Dake House Facebook

For the brave, the hauntings of Carson Valley beckon you to explore, especially during this time of year. A place with such an exciting past begs to be visited in the present – though whether you decide to believe such things remains solely up to you.

In the meantime, check out our Daytime, Nightlife and Community events for some less haunted weekend activities.

 
About the Author Bryan Akerley
Bryan was born and raised in Northern Nevada and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not writing, he’s keeping up with pop culture as a lover of movies, TV, music and books or out exploring the area through its restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then he’ll unwind by playing the drums or piano or spending time with his corgi, Teddy.