Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reno/Sparks Bike Map 2012

The twin cities of Reno and Sparks in Nevada are turning into a hot spot for bikers. According to the Reno/Sparks Bike Map 2012 this area has been designated a “Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze Level” in September 2011, a reward presented to communities with remarkable commitments to bicycling. This designation will be held for four years and further achievements will be re-evaluated in 2015. Let's go for the “Gold Level!”

The printed fold-up map is available for free at various locations listed on the RTC Bicycling page. It also may be found outside the Bartley Ranch park-headquarters building on the left side of the main entrance. The map features different types of bike paths such as popular rides identified by local bikers, designated bike lanes as road portions with pavement marking, bike lanes planned by end of 2012 and bikeways physically seperated from motorized vehicular traffic. An example for the latter is the section of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway through Sparks and Reno, which connects downtown Reno with Rock Park and the eastern side of Sparks beyond Sparks Blvd. without any major interruptions.

The map includes, for example, Verdi, Spanish Springs, Galena, Washoe Lake and Incline Village. The map focuses on the urban areas. Dirt road trails such as the Steamboat Ditch trail to the Holes in the wall or single track trails such as Peavine's Halo Trail are not indicated or shown in the map, but you'll be able to plan your route through the Truckee Meadows to get there, assuming you know the connection points and whereabouts of your favorite tracks winding through open space.

Keywords: outdoors, recreation, commuting, traffic, city planning, urban development.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bartley Ranch Regional Park: trails through historical ranchlands

Bartley Ranch Regional Park in Reno, Nevada, features preserved ranchlands as well as vintage buildings and farm equipment. The green-roofed visitor center, shown above, provides information about the surrounding sites and future park programs. The center hosts various events, interesting lectures and the popular and free Saturday-evenings series of concerts during the winter month: “Come in from the Cold.”

Whether (weather) cold or warm, the various hiking trails through the park and historical displays are open all year round. The trail that connects the Bartley Ranch with neighboring Anderson Park reopened recently, after being closed for a couple of months following the Caughlin fire of November 2011. Hopefully, the Flume Trail and the Quail Run Trail through the burnt chaparral will become safe for use and be reopened again during this year. Locals come for jogging, hiking, biking and horse riding. First-time visitors are typically attracted by the reassembled, preserved vintage ranch buildings and the interpreted display of farm equipment along the Ranch Loop Trail including a Stockland road grader, a hay loader, harrows, rakes and other vintage machines and tools.

Getting there
From the intersection of South McCarran Blvd. and Lakeside Drive go south on Lakeside Drive for about half a mile and turn left into Bartley Ranch Road. Follow this road into the park by crossing the covered, wooden bridge. Park to the right at the Huffaker Schoolhouse or continue on and find parking space to the left near the headquarters or the Hawkins Amphitheater. A park map is displayed outside the Western Heritage Interpretive Center (park headquarters and visitor center). Picnic tables and the equestrian riding area are located next to the visitor center.

Vintage ranch buildings at Bartley Ranch Regional Park in Reno

The preserved ranchland of the Bartley Ranch Regional Park in Reno, Nevada, includes a horse arena, agricultural fields, the above shown group of vintage ranch buildings, and old farming equipment displayed along Ranch Loop Trail. Fortunately, these wooden structures were not affected by the Caughlin fire in November 2011, which destroyed most of the vis-a-vis sites at the slope below Windy Hill, where the Quail Run and Flume hiking trails wind through chaparral and along an old irrigation ditch, called Last Chance Ditch.

The vintage ranch buildings are located between the visitor center (park headquarter) and the Hawkins Amphitheater. These buildings originate from nearby places in the Truckee Meadows and were assembled at this site for preservation.

Keywords: western heritage, interpretive center and trails, ranch display, open-air museum.

Further information and related pages
The View from Windy Hill: Audrey Harris Park and Bartley Ranch Regional Park: Geologic and Natural History Tours in the Reno Are, page 28. 
Historic Ranch Area at Bartley Ranch Park in Reno: 
Bartley Ranch Preservation:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ranch Loop Trail at Bartley Ranch in Reno

The Ranch Loop Trail of Bartley Ranch Regional Park in Reno, Nevada, is assigned for hiking, biking and horse riding. This is an interpretive trail through ranch- and pastureland, filled with historical farm display. Various old tools and machines can be viewd along the trail, including the following:
Each displayed object is accompanied with an interpretive panel explaining the object's operation and putting its origin and use into historical context.

Keywords: Truckee Meadows, agricultural land, vintage ranch tool collection, western heritage, interpretive trail.

A hay loader at Bartley Ranch loop trail

This old hay loader belongs to a collection of old farming equipment on display along the Ranch Loop Trail at Reno's historic Barley Ranch in Nevada. It was employed during those times when cut hay was arranged into windrows for drying by using dump rakes and side deliveries. Once the hay was ready for pick-up, the hay loader was put into action, as an interpretive panel explains:

The loader was pulled behind the windrow by a team of horses. The tines pulled the hay up to the slide. As the loader wheels turned, the longer tines caught the hay and pulled it up on the slide and dumped it into the wagon. The loader could be unhitched from the wagon and the load of hay was taken to the stackyards or the barn.

Keywords: history, vintage farming days, farm equipment, harvest, interpretive trail.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Jackson hay fork at Bartley Ranch loop trail

Jackson hay forks, made by the Jackson Farm Implement Co., came into use for farming by the mid-nineteenth century [1]. These dangerous tools contained sharp steel tines that were lowered into hay to lift it up and move it around [2]. One such fork is safely displayed at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. The interpretive panel next to this old fork describes its operation in combination with a Mormon Hay Derrick:

To stack the loose hay a derrick such as the “Mormon” style derrick, characterized by a boom [arm of a crane] that pivots atop the mast, was needed. Moving loose hay from a wagon, slip, or buckrake [long-toothed rake] also required the use of a sling or Jackson fork attached by cable or rope to the boom. A Jackson fork's wooden frame has four metal tines. When the fork was closed the tines were pushed into the loose hay and the frame clamped down. Once secured, a harnessed horse was walked a set distance away, pulling the cable through a system of pulleys on the derrick frame. The derrick arm would be swung, and then by tripping the dump rope the fork released to dump the hay. 

It does not need much fantasy to imagine a possible mishap that would have harmed horse or man. A photo of the OSU Archives shows a Jackson hay fork and a derrick in use around 1917 on an Oregon farm [3].

References and more to explore
[1] Jackson Hay Fork:
[2] Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage Photo Album > Jackson Fork:
[3] Oregon State University (OSU) Archives > Jackson hay fork:

A side delivery rake at Bartley Ranch loop trail

The side delivery rake (or side delivery, for short) began to replace the dump rake in the early twentieth century. The exhibit of historic farm equipment, displayed at the Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada, includes both, an old dump and a side delivery rake. The latter is shown in the picture. The interpretive panel next to this site along the Ranch Loop Trail briefly describes the role and history of rake use for hay harvesting:

It [the side delivery rake] turned the hay and left it in convenient windrows in one easy step. This was a faster and more efficient way to work especially with the invention of baling machines. Side deliveries were modified to be pulled by tractors in later years and the design remained virtually unchanged. The modern day swather [North American term for windrower] has replaced the hay mower and rake, combining them into one machine thus saving even more time.

Keywords: history, farm equipment, harvest, machine modernization, interpretive trail.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A dump rake at Bartley Ranch loop trail

This dump rake can be seen on a walk along a loop trail at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. Dump rakes were used to build windrows of cut hay. Arranged in such rows or lines, the hay was left to dry in the wind (if not too strong) before it was combined, piled and taken to the barn.

The interpretive panel next to the dump rake tells us that simple machines of this kind came into use in the 1860s. The panel also provides us with an idea of how the hay was treated after drying in the windrows:

[...] it was either raked by hand into piles and pitchforked into wagons or it was lifted or thrown onto huge haystacks using some type of derrick or boom. In later years a hay loader was pulled behind the wagon and hay was then taken to the stack or barn. In the West, stacks were more common than barns due to the long distances between hay fields and the home place.
Dump rakes probably “evolved” from the early method of simply using tree branches to gather straw and hay. The hay rake above has a seat mounted over the two-wheeled rake. While pulled by a horse across a field of cut hay, “the driver”—repeating the words of the panel—“would dump [the rake] at intervals using either the hand or foot release lever to create windrows.”

Keywords: history, farm equipment, harvest, interpretive trail.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A manure spreader at Bartley Ranch loop trail

Animal waste gets naturally recycled, but farmers cultivated waste recycling a long time ago and frequently included and still include this process in their farming business. Manure, typically composed of animal feces and straw, is a common by-product of farming and can be an efficient fertilizer when spread over a field that is used for crop growth. An old manure spreader can be viewed at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. This spreader is an open wagon with an axle at the back, which is equipped with cogs and tines. While rotating, the cylindrically arranged tines break up the loaded manure and fling the pieces out onto the field. The interpretive panel next to the spreader highlights the recycling process and its benefits: 

Using manure is an excellent waste recycling method because nutrients are returned to the soil as natural fertilizer. The soil can grow a new crop such as hay. The hay is consumed by animals to provide power for the equipment, waste is produced, recycled for fertilizer, and the cycle begins anew.

Keywords: history, farm equipment, soil cultivation, recycling, interpretive trail.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A three bottom plow at Bartley Ranch loop trail

Like the spring tooth harrow and the disc harrow, the three bottom plow is used to break up soil before crop growth.This three-blade plow is displayed together with other vintage-days farm equipment at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. In old times—before plows were pulled by tractors—horses, mules or oxen had to do the job. As a panel at this site explains, the plow would also help mix in the fertilizer such manure. Dirt clods brought up by the plow would be broken up by pulling a disc harrow over the field. And a tool such as the spring tooth harrow would further loosen and refine the soil for planting.

Keywords: history, farm equipment, agricultural tillage tool, plowing, soil cultivation, interpretive trail.

A disc harrow at Bartley Ranch loop trail

This picture shows a disc harrow, which was once used on the Quilici Ranch near Dayton and is now on display at the Ranch Loop Trail at Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. A walking tour along this trail takes visitors to various farm equipment including a spring tooth harrow and this disc harrow, for which an interpretive panel explains that it is traditionally used after a field had been plowed. It prepares a field for new crop growth by cutting remaining stalks and roots from the previous harvest into the soil and it helps loosening the soil and smoothing the surface. The panel provides the following details:

The [disc] harrow is pulled across the field causing the series of circular concave discs (which are set at opposing angles) to rotate, thereby cutting the remains of the harvest into the soil, replenishing the topsoil as it decays into humus. Depending on the previous crop, this may take several passes. 

Keywords: history, farm equipment, agricultural tillage tool, plowing, interpretive trail.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A spring tooth harrow at Bartley Ranch loop trail

A spring tooth harrow was used for soil cultivation. This type of harrow consists of rows of spring teeth. A spring tooth is a flexible iron tooth that loosens soil before planting, while the harrow is dragged over a field. The picture shows a harrow with three rows of spring teeth. This harrow is displayed at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada, but has once been put to work at the Quilici Ranch along the Carson River near Dayton. The interpretive panel next to the harrow explains:

The spring tooth harrow is known especially for the spring tines which provide a vibrating action to help break up the soil. The springs also yield to rigid obstructions such as rocks, potentially alleviating excessive wear on the equipment, team and driver. This piece was used on the local Quilici Ranch.

Synonym for spring tooth harrow: drag harrow.

Keywords: history, farm equipment, agricultural tillage tool, plowing, interpretive trail, walking tour.

More on spring tooth harrows:
Wikipedia > Spring-tooth  (April 3, 2012).
Video of old spring tooth harrow:

A Stockland road grader at Bartley Ranch loop trail

A grader is used to create or maintain a flat surface. Typically, a grader is employed in road and parking area construction. But it also is applied to maintain dirt roads on farms and ranches. For example, the shown old grader, manufactured by the Stockland Road Machinery Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota (patented January 5, 1915), is on display along the Ranch Loop Trail at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada.  This grader is designed to be pulled behind a tractor or truck. Its blade is adjustable and rotates from side to side.

The information panel next to the grader explains its different uses:
A dirt road can be graded at an angle or crowned, allowing the water to sheet off to one side, collecting in a ditch or low pasture, thereby preventing pooling and potholes. This is also a handy tool for snow removal. In the spring as roads dry out, revealing typical wear, the grader can move fill material on the road, smoothing and filling the damaged surface.

Some modern graders come with GPS technology. But potholes don't send GPS signals. Even with modern road machinery, potholes and other road damage in the Reno/Tahoe area have to wait for their turn to be graded.

Keywords: history, grading, foundation, agricultural infrastructure, civil engineering, interpretive trail, walking tour.

More on graders:
Wikipedia > Grader: (April 3, 2012).