Dangberg Home Ranch Opens for Summer Season
For history buffs, one of the best volunteer opportunities in Western Nevada is offered by the Dangberg Home Ranch in Carson Valley.
Volunteers sort through thousands of meticulously saved artifacts, often stored in their original boxes and many not seen for almost a century. They can read and be touched by letters from family members to friends and would-be lovers—missives that look as if they were written yesterday, still in their envelopes.
Park volunteers helped organize the April 16-18 spring opening exhibit at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park in Minden. Called “Dangberg Short Stories,” the displays reflect the lives of four generations of Dangbergs, a prominent Carson Valley ranching family that figured largely in local affairs and often participated worldwide events.
In separate rooms of the ranch house, built originally in the 1800s and added on to at various times in the 20th century, volunteers laid out newspapers, photos, clothing, toys, china, letters, telegrams, and European tour souvenirs. There is even the Certificate of Honorable Discharge for Baron, a Dangberg German Shepherd that served as a K-9 member of the U.S. armed forces during World War II.
Wooden model airplanes from the 1940s replicate a young boy's love of flight, and photos of Dangbergs standing next to the airplane that took them above Lake Tahoe in 1928 show that an interest in flying ran in the family.
Newspapers looking as fresh as the day they were printed feature color photos of the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. Dangberg family members not only attended this fair, they also took photos of themselves at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in the Bay city and the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.
There were good times, but tragedy struck the family, too. Fred Dangberg Jr., son of founder Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg, lost a brother, son and grandson as children. The exhibit shows his grandson's baby clothes sitting in the chest of drawers that park staff found in a cardboard box, probably unopened since 1935. Many of these tiny items were never worn, as the baby they were meant for died in infancy.
The Dangberg women had many outside interests. In a display called the “Dangberg Sorority” are Margaret Dangberg's darkroom equipment and cameras. A photo of Ruth, who loved contract bridge, shares a card table decked out with cards and other bridge ephemera. Fritzi's steamer truck and souvenirs from a 1929 European trip stand nearby. A whimsical display of Katrina's collection of skunk-related objects hints at her love of the oft-stinky creatures she adopted.
Detailed exhibits such as this on are only made possible though the dedication of the Dangberg Home Ranch volunteers, says park interpreter Mark Jensen. The volunteers spent many hours carefully sorting these Dangberg artifacts and presenting them to best advantage.
This year, volunteer gardeners with the help of Plant It Nursery in Gardnerville are replanting some of Gertrude Dangberg's garden. Jensen said renovation of the walkways and main driveway may take place this summer.
Dangberg Home Ranch tours are offered Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. except during special events. Advanced reservations are required by calling 775-783-9417. Also call Jensen if you wish to become a volunteer.
Special exhibits this season include: Carson Valley History, in commemoration of the centennial of Carson Valley Days, June 11-13; Historic Clothing, from the late 19th century through the 1970s, October 29-31; and Home Ranch for the Holidays, vintage and modern holiday decorations and toys, December 3-5.
Visit Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park for more park information.