Author Holly Walton-Buchanan to discuss ranching history book at Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park in Minden


Author Holly Walton-Buchanan to discuss ranching history book at Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park in Minden

by Mark Jensen, Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park

MINDEN, Nev.- Author Holly Walton-Buchanan will discuss the research and writing of her book, Land of the Buckaroo: Historic Ranches of Western Nevada, at 10 a.m. at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park on Saturday, June 28, in a free public presentation.

The event is part of the park’s Ferris Family Speaker Series, and is sponsored by Bently Enterprises, SoaringNV, Douglas County, and the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation.

Land of the Buckaroo explores the roots of the American cowboy back to Spain in the Dark Ages, when wild horses and cattle were first domesticated, and describes how Spanish explorers to the Americas brought herds of livestock and range management techniques.

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MIKEEddyAmericanFamilyInsuranceGardnervilleMinden022014The book focuses on the early history of western Nevada ranching in the 1850s, when Carson Valley attracted Scandinavian and German immigrants, such as Fred Dangberg and Augustus Dressler, while the Truckee Meadows was settled by Americans such as Peleg Brown, Granville Huffaker and Grove Holcomb. The beef, butter and fresh produce produced by these early settlers fed the miners on the Comstock.

Later, Italians arrived and took over many of the pioneer ranches, turning the area into the agricultural center of the Great Basin. Many descendants of those pioneer ranching families assisted with the book, offering stories and photographs that help tell their ancestors’ fascinating stories.

Walton-Buchanan, though born in Salt Lake City, grew up in Nevada. Her father’s family has been involved in ranching for over 100 years, from the Walton Ranch in Woodruff, Utah, to today’s Walton Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2003, and was an educator in the Washoe County School District and the Nevada Dept. of Education. A long-time historic preservationist, she has written three previous books about the history of Reno and the University of Nevada.

In 2011, she teamed with Ben Damonte, Jr., to tell the story of the iconic Damonte Ranch in the Truckee Meadows. That project led to a broader story of how ranching began in western Nevada, beginning with Carson Valley. In the process, several descendants of pioneer ranching families contributed their own stories and photographs, resulting in Land of the Buckaroos in-depth look at the region’s ranching heritage.

Representatives of Animal Ark, a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and education center, and one of Walton-Buchanan’s favorite charities, will also be at the event with an information table.

The free, hour-long, outdoor presentation begins at 10 am. Seating will be available, but visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs for greater comfort. Land of the Buckaroo will be available for purchase, with the author available to sign copies.

Other speakers in this year’s series are Doris Dwyer performing a Chautauqua of pioneer Sarah Royce on July 12; and a group of local artisans demonstrating techniques and equipment for fiber arts on July 26. Former Nevada state treasurer Patty Cafferata and her daughter Elisa will talk about Patty’s mother Barbara Vucanovich on August 2; Kim Copel will present a Chautauqua of stagecoach driver Charlie Parkhurst on August 23; and Dr. Anita Watson will portray Virginia City pioneer Mary McNair Mathews in a Chautauqua on September 6. Historian Ronald James discusses his book on Virginia City on September 27; and Patty Cafferata returns on October 11 for a discussion of her book on Christmas in Nevada.

The park is located at 1450 Highway 88, about ¾ mile south of the Carson Valley Swim Center. The full schedule for the Ferris Family Speaker Series and other events at the park is at


The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is the 2012 and 2013 Reno-Tahoe Territory winner of the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s “Discover Your Nevada” contest. The site preserves the home of Heinrich F. Dangberg and his descendants. The Dangbergs were a prominent ranching family in Carson Valley history and founded Minden in 1905. The site includes eight historic structures built between 1857 and 1917, along with a collection of 39,000 artifacts, documents and photographs acquired and used by the Dangberg family. Programs include tours, exhibits and other public events. The park is operated by Friends of Dangberg Home Ranch, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in cooperation with Douglas County.


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