Old Geiger Grade

Old Geiger Grade

Old Geiger Grade
(‘In Canyon Below’)
Dead man's point and robber's roost, two of the most famous features of the road, can be see from the historical marker

Next time you’re headed up to Virginia City from Reno on Geiger Grade, NV 341, check out the Nevada State Historical Marker just before the road flattens out in the Highlands. The sign tells of the Old Geiger Grade (‘In Canyon Below’) constructed by Davison Geiger and John Tilton in 1862 to link Virginia City’s Comstock Lode to the Truckee Meadows. If you are one of the area’s many mountain bikers you may already be familiar with the canyon road - which can be accessed from 341 or down Toll Road past the pavement.

More recently a part of the historic Bain Springs Ranch, NLT worked with the Tanner family to nominate a 271-acre portion of the Toll Road canyon for public purchase in Round 9 of the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act. The project includes a section of the Old Geiger Grade, the Newton Creek drainage, a rare buckwheat plant, and mule deer habitat - and the dramatic Owl Rock, standing guard over all.

Allan Tanner, whose parents first purchased the property for a dude ranch in 1941 and exchanged part of the upper canyon for the lower section in 1956, offers a fascinating glimpse of life there as a child, when it was wise to keep rattlesnake and black widow antivenin in the ice box as they were fifteen miles from town. He helped clear the way to the spring, kept the tack clean, and helped care for the multitude of animals that shared the ranch. Allan bonded with the land on his boyhood adventures, such as when he would ride his horses up Toll Road or herd the sheep up-canyon to a shady “copse,” lay his rifle across his lap, and get lost (as much as one could, while keeping an eye on the livestock) in James Fenimore Cooper’s stories.

Allan first contacted Washoe County and Nevada Land Trust back in 2008, looking for ways we might help the family protect the Toll Road Canyon and the Bain Springs Ranch long-term. With deepest gratitude for the vision, persistence, and patience of Allan and the Tanner family, and with sincere appreciation for the dedicated work on the part of the Bureau of Land Management staff in the Carson City office to complete the acquisition, we celebrate this newest heritage gift to all Nevadans.