Explore Nevada: Bowers Mansion Regional State Park

Explore Nevada:

Bowers Mansion Regional State Park

Bowers Mansion

                                                                                               A view of Slide Mountain as seen from the east side of Washoe Valley.

A View of Slide Mountain

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Slide Mountain, of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, fell and covered the valley with earth on Memorial Day 1983.  Therefore the highway, 395 from Carson City, remained closed blocking the primary route into Reno Nevada.  The landslide destroyed a couple homes and a few lives were lost.

A dining room window facing west,  in a home on the east side of Washoe Lake Nevada, would wake up every morning to a view of the majestic Slide Mountain.  With a quick glance one can see half of the mountain seems washed away.

At the foot of Slide Mountain Bower’s Mansion Regional State Park, one of the few survivors of the landslide, remained hidden in new pine growth.

High School memories from local graduating classes that year remember the mud and destruction that was left in the path of the slide.

Somehow Bowers Mansion and Davis Creek Campground were not touched by this destruction.   Therefore every time one hikes onto Slide Mountain one wonders about how quickly time heals wounds.

Bowers Mansion Regional State Park is rich in Nevada history and provides visitors tours of the mansion, a chance to swim in a pool, and a well kept park.

Bowers Mansion
Front view of Bowers Mansion

History of Bowers Mansion

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During early settlement of Nevada the Mormons played a significant role in purchasing property along the Sierra’s.  Alex Cowan, a Mormon who saw potential along the foothills, purchased land at the foot of Slide Mountain in 1856 along with his wife Allison “Eilley” Oram.

Due to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Alex Cowan moved back to Utah to be near temple, but brave Eilley stayed in Virginia City around the time of the Comstock Lode.

First she ran a boarding house at Gold Hill, in Virginia City, at the beginning of the mining boom.  Second, one of her boarders paid with his claim.  A claim that produced an extremely large amount of valuable metals.  In conclusion she found herself a small fortune as the boom hit.

Therefore she used this newly found fortune, and a mixture of money from her third husband Sandy Bowers, to build her dream home on her property at the foothills of Slide Mountain.

The cost to build the mansion fell around $300,000.00, an amazing amount in the late 1800’s, due to Eilley’s desire for perfection.  First she hired J. Neely Johnson, the ex-Governor of California, as the mansions primary architect.

Second she traveled around Europe to find the perfect furniture.   Third she hired Scottish stone cutters to cut stone in her home country of Scotland to import to Nevada.

Bowers Mansion 2012
Picture of Bowers Mansion Taken in 2012

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The years of 1873-75 found the mansion popular and Eilley used her home to throw The Woman’s Suffrogette and Miner’s Ball.
In July of 1874, when Eilley saw a decline in her family fortune, four deadly diseases hit Nevada.  Therefore Eilley sent her daughter Persia to live in Reno with friends to avoid the boarders living at the mansion and to attend school and study music.
Eilley, notified that Persia was ill, rushed to Reno to find out Persia died, on July 14, 1874.  Her husband, Sandy Bower, already passed on so Persia’s death left her devastated and totally alone.
Therefore both Persia and Sandy are buried in a small plot behind the mansion.  Visitors of Bowers Mansion today walk upon a wooded path up to the private plot as part of their tour.
Eilley kept up Bower’s Mansion’s social events until 1876 when she fell upon hard times and foreclosed the mansion.

Currently Bower’s Mansion is owned by the Washoe County Parks Department and tours are available.

Bowers Mansion
A child enjoying the water at Bowers Mansion Swimming Pool

Bowers Mansion Swimming Pool

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Children in Washoe, raised in a valley below Lake Tahoe, not only find themselves swimming in regional lakes but enjoy summer days at local pools.  Whether diving from rocks along the shores of Tahoe or from high diving boards the water brings relief from beating sun.

When shade of pine does not provide enough protection families, gathered in the park, move to Bower’s Mansion Swimming Pool to cool down, splash, and swim.

Therefore the swimming pool, located near wooded foothills, is a personal favorite among locals and travelers.

The William Pennington Foundation donated $150,o00 to the renovation of the pool, after a four year closure due to the 2009 Great Recession, providing a modernized swimming facility with lanes for lap swimming, a children’s pool, and a variety of diving boards.

Swim lessons begin in the middle of August and continue throughout the summer along with adult swimming classes, Lifeguard courses, and diving instruction.  The pool is open from 12 pm to 5 pm daily and costs around $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.

The Bower’s Mansion Swimming Pool is a great family pool to help cool down after a day of enjoying the history of the Mansion or playing at the playground nearby.

Near pool and playground an acre of lawn houses picnic tables for small family gatherings or other occasions.

Bowers Mansion
There is nothing like Bluegrass

 Bowers Mansion Bluegrass Festival

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A small stage overlooks an ocean of lawn chairs and cozy picnic blankets.  Lawn chairs where a husband hands a glass of wine to his wife while they sit next to a cozy picnic blanket where a child enjoys a snack.

First, four banjos and a few guitars explore melody as each musician starts a conversation with each strum.  Second, near the stage a woman loses herself in dance and holds her hands to heaven while her feet lift and fall with each beat.

Every year the Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association throws a hoedown at Bower’s Mansion.  This yearly Bluegrass Festival brings talent from around the country and lasts from August 12th to August 17th.

A few small stages house smaller venues while a larger stage offers headliners.  Therefore at any given moment the event will have up to ten or more Bluegrass performances to enjoy along with sudden unexpected jam sessions that may go on for hours.

Here is a list of some previous performers:

  • Micheal Martin Murphy
  • Frank Sullivan and Dirty Kitchen
  • Anderson Family Bluegrass
  • and many more.

The festival tickets cover campsite cost for camping at Davis Creek Regional Park campground.  A place where evening music moves from park into a wooded campground and the beauty of Bluegrass is shared from sunset until sunrise.  Therefore a multitude of stringed instruments mixed with a few percussionists gather in tents and enjoy improvisational jams all night long.

Davis Creek Campground
A peaceful stay at Davis Creek Campground

Davis Creek Campground

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Troop 405 gathers for their yearly scout camp at Davis Creek Campground.  There is enough room for each family to camp with their children and to gather with the Troop for learning activities, crafts, and relaxation.  This Troop has enjoyed this heavily wooded campground since they started.

A favorite activity of scouts is to explore hiking trails along Slide Mountain.  The trails take hikers deep into canyons created by the historic landslide.  An experienced hiker could take an overnight hike up into the Sierra’s near Mt. Rose.

A traveler who drives next door from Bower’s Mansion Regional Park will see the sign for Davis Creek Regional Campground right down the road.

Davis Creek Regional Park is surrounded by thick Jeffrey Pine and has a small scenic pond, used for family fishing, at its heart.  Near the pond families find day use picnic areas to use for Birthday party’s, fishing excursions, or a day of hiking trails.

Even though the trails offer opportunity for an incredible day hike serious hikers can camp at an overnight camp ground and examine trails daily during their stay.

There are sixty two clean overnight camp sites with restroom access.

Last but not least an equestrian trail head to Toiyabe National Forest offers an incredible horseback adventure for any horse owners living in the area.

References

 

  • Burns, Phyllis Doyle.  August 25th 2020. Eilley Bower’s Mansion of sorrows.  Owlcation.
  • Wikipedia. Bowers Mansion. en.wikipedia.org
  • Buzick, Tamera. 2014. Bowers Mansion: The chronicle of a curious Nevada landmark. Nevada Magazine.
  • Associated Press. 1983. One killed as a Nevada mudslide floods lakes and distance homes.  The New York Times.

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Jamie Lee Hamann

Things have changed over the years. My name is Jamie Lee Hamann and I have a passion for writing short fiction and poetry. I started writing for TCE around 2015 and since then I have finished two collections of poetry "Six Years of Service" and "The Rhyme of the Ancient Middle Class" both available on Amazon and plans for more. I share a weekly poem for TCE every Saturday. I started work on my first novel and I am using TCE to share my progress as I go. I share new excerpts of this work every weekend. A Science Fiction novel that I hope is enjoyable to read. I currently live in Lemmon Valley NV with my family. I am excited to share my poetry and my writing. If you desire to find my other work on the internet feel free to stop by my website simplepoetics.weebly.com. The website offers articles on poetry, poems, and links to all my other writing.

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