Nevada's pioneer spirit shines through in Genoa

Electric street lights arrived in Genoa, Nev., the state's oldest permanent settlement, around 1920, thanks to local women who organized a fundraising "candy dance." This summer the town's historic main drag is once again illuminated by replicas of the original lampposts, which guide visitors to the attractions in this surprisingly historic town. The tab: Excluding airfare to Reno, a one-hour drive, and a rental car, a two-night visit will cost about $300. That includes lodging at the upscale 1862 David Walley's Resort Hot Springs & Spa, a casual meal for two and drinks at Nevada's oldest watering hole.

The bed

The 1862 David Walley's Resort Hot Springs & Spa (2001 Foothill Road, [775] 782-8155, http://www.davidwalleys-resort.com is the ideal place to unwind. Hotel rooms plus one- and two-bedroom suites — which double as time-share units — provide comfortable accommodations. Many, however, come to soak in six rejuvenating mineral springs. Famous bathers include Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne and Raquel Welch. After an 1887 visit, Mark Twain wrote, "I now leave without crutch or cane, entirely well, not only relieved from pain but gained in spirit." Weekend rooms in September from $129 a night, with discount packages that include a time-share sales pitch.

The meal

The resort features fine dining with intriguing dishes such as the rattlesnake ravioli ($12) and a pork porterhouse entree ($28). Budget-minded visitors can choose Genoa Station (2285 Main St., [775] 783-1599). Starters include chili cheese potato wedges and fried Parmesan mushrooms, both $6. For a main course, consider the Mediterranean veggie wrap ($12) or the shrimp Louie salad ($13).

The find

Genoa's past is preserved at Mormon Station State Historic Park (2295 Main St., [775] 782-2590, http://www.lat.ms/146fOoi). In 1851, Mormon settlers opened a trading post to serve people heading west on the California Trail. A log cabin, rebuilt after a 1910 fire, houses a small museum open May to mid-October. The town's lore can also be savored at the Genoa Bar (2282 Main St., [775] 782-3870, http://www.genoabarandsaloon.com), which bills itself as "Nevada's oldest thirst parlor." The saloon has been serving drinks year round since it first opened in 1853. "It didn't even close during Prohibition," said owner Willy Webb.

The lesson learned

Lodging prices climb during the annual Candy Dance Faire ([775] 782-8696, http://www.lat.ms/16R9YFN), an arts and crafts festival and dinner dance that draws 50,000 folks to this town of 900 the last weekend of September.

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