University cartographer recognized for preserving local history

5/17/2007 7:00:00 AM

Jack Hursh has a great appreciation for Nevada history. As a third generation Nevadan, he has dedicated much of his spare time to preserving the heritage of Truckee Meadows. The city of Reno Historical Resources Commission recently recognized his efforts and presented him and his colleagues Loren Jahn and Jack Sutton with the Advocate award. The award, for Reno residents who have helped promote local history and heritage, was presented May 10 at Reno City Hall.

"It was a complete surprise," said Hursh, a cartographic technician at the University. "It was neat to be recognized by the City of Reno for a project in a county park."

The group's project involved five ranch buildings, originally from the Joe Ferretto Ranch on South Virginia Street. The buildings were donated for preservation after being used by Boomtown as a decorative display area for activities. Hursh, Jahn and Sutton came up with the idea to move the buildings to what was previously a dirt lot in Bartley Ranch Park.

"The process was a nightmare," Hursh said. "We spent about four years attending various meetings, fundraising and lobbying to make this happen."

The trio drafted a proposal that included photographs of the buildings and sketches of their intended results. After developing a partnership with Truckee Meadows Remembered, a non-profit organization, and Washoe County Parks, the group was finally able to have the buildings moved over in May 2004.

"The buildings immediately elevated the atmosphere of the park," Hursh said. "Members of the community donated old ranch tools and other display items for inside of the buildings. It made everything look authentic and real."

Hursh said he occasionally goes to the site and gives tours of the inside of the buildings. He said one of his favorite tours was with a first grade class from Huffaker school.

"The kids kept asking me repeatedly if it was all real," Hursh said. "I thought that was so neat because many of them have never had the opportunity to see a real working ranch. This allowed them to see, touch and feel a real part of Nevada history."

Currently, Hursh works with others to improve and enhance the buildings.

"We recently reconstructed the roof on one of the buildings," Hursh said. "We put on a rusty tin to make it look old."

Hursh said they are also in the process of building an interpretive sign for the site that will describe the history of the buildings and recognize the project's sponsors.

"Some of these buildings were built as far back as the 1870's," Hursh said. We thought it was important to let people know what they are looking at."

Hursh said the group has plans to rescue three other historical ranch buildings from the Truckee Meadows. They will also be taken to Bartley Ranch Park.

"If something isn't done, they are going to be torn down," Hursh said.

The group is currently working on fundraising for these future projects.


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