Dennis Cassinelli is a Nevada author, historian and outdoorsman. He’s written extensively about American Indian culture and Comstock history.
His book, Preserving Traces of the Great Basin Indians, contains up-close photographs and detailed pen-and-ink drawings of American Indian stone artifacts. It also contains a fold-out chronology chart showing projectile points across a 12,000-year time scale. The book is a must-have for every enthusiast of Great Basin archaeology.
Dennis’s website is DennisCassinelli.com.
Every year in October, Virginia City celebrates their annual outhouse races. PottyHumor abounds at this Virginia City tradition dating back to the day when outdoor plumbing was outlawed and angry residents took their outhouses to the streets to protest. These days, teams of three are pitted against each other in an all-out potty race to claim the latrine title.
The parade of outhouses begins each day at high noon with races immediately following. The races challenge teams of three costumed outhouse racers to zip down C Street, the town’s main drag, and hit the toilet paper finish line first.
I want to do a short “ode to the outhouse.” By all reports this is much preferred to an odor from the outhouse.
The town of Paradise Valley lies about 40 miles north of Winnemucca. It’s a beautiful old town, like something out of an old western cowboy movie. The valley is dotted with large, active cattle ranches dating back to the 1860s. One of the ranches, known as the old Mill Ranch at the far north end of the valley, has been owned by my uncle, Bob Cassinelli, and his family for many years. Bob is deceased, but his wife, Georgene, and son, Danny, still call the place their home. Prior to the Cassinellis’ ownership of the ranch, there were many other owners going back to the 1860s when the Silver State Flour Mill was built on the ranch, and it’s still standing.
In this, the second article about Lovelock Cave, I will describe a few of the thousands of artifacts recovered from the site between 1912 and 1924. The remarkable things about Lovelock Cave were the state of preservation in this dry cave and the amazing variety of well preserved objects that were found there.
Llewellyn L. Loud first began recovering artifacts from the cave in 1912 after guano miners had finished removing tons of bat guano from the floor of the cave. Unfortunately, looters had already removed many items of archaeological value before Loud started his work. Despite the previous ransacking of the cave, Mr. Loud recovered many items of great archaeological and anthropological value.
Approximately 45 sets of human remains, ranging from scattered bones to complete mummies and human skeletons, were found. One mummified child about 6 years old wrapped in fish netting was given to the Nevada Historical Society. Loud recovered the remains of a newborn child with the placenta still attached. I recall the days in the 1960s when some of these remains were on display at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno before the insensitive public display of them was discontinued.
Many examples of mammal remains were found in the cave. These included animals that had entered the cave seeking shelter, and others that had been brought into the cave as food by human occupants. Examples of these remains include deer, bighorn sheep, wolf, coyote, badger, pronghorn antelope, jackrabbit and cottontail.
This is the first in a two part series about Lovelock Cave, located on a terrace of ancient Lake Lahontan about 22 miles south of Lovelock in Churchill County, Nevada. The second in the series will describe some of the hundreds of artifacts recovered from the cave. It was excavated in 1912 by archaeologists Llewellyn L. Loud and again in 1924 by Mark R. Harrington. It yielded some of the richest archaeological Treasures ever found in the American West.
Scientists have determined the cave was inhabited by humans in several phases from about 3000 B.C. to about 1900 A.D. In more recent findings, the earliest habitation at the site may have been even older than originally determined by Loud and Harrington. In their classic book, “Lovelock Cave,” these two archaeologists collaborated to tell about the remarkable artifacts and human remains they discovered in the cave. I will describe many of these items in my next article in this series.
Political correctness really chaps the back side of my wrinkled old hide. I am going to cite just one example of how far bureaucrats will go to shove their interpretation of what they believe to be politically correct down our throats.
I have often used USGS (United States Geological Survey) maps published by the United States Government during my travels throughout the American West. The desert country of the Great Basin has often been referred to as the Great American Desert. This is largely a desolate land with few paved roads and even fewer places with human habitation. Before widespread use of GPS (Global Positioning System) for determining where you were, desert travelers commonly referred to USGS maps to keep them from getting lost.
An ice fisherman taking a rest after an exhausting day on the ice.
It has been a Cassinelli family tradition for several years to go ice fishing when the lakes and reservoirs are safe for ice fishing. Ice must be a minimum of six inches thick to be safe. If there’s corn snow above the solid ice, it may need to be even thicker. With the use of either a power auger or a hand auger, a 6-to-8-inch hole is drilled into the ice for each fisherman in the group. Those with a second rod stamp can use two holes.
Usually 4-6 or more of us pick a date in January or February and decide which lake or reservoir to try. Some of our favorites are Wild Horse Reservoir north of Elko, South Fork Reservoir south of Elko or Cave Lake southeast of Ely. We have also been known to go to Red Lake or Caples Lake along Highway 88 in California for day-trip fishing.