Caughlin Ranch House

The Caughlin Ranch House, along with its outbuildings and pastoral setting, provides a rare and enduring link to Reno’s rich ranching heritage, right in the heart of the city. Since the early 1900s, this lovely Italianate home, one of the area's last surviving historic ranch houses, has stood in the same location, surrounded by undeveloped land. In its early days it bordered the South Verdi Road, a narrow, rural thoroughfare that once ran between the current Plumb Lane and Mayberry Drive.

Known originally as the Andrews Ranch, the pioneering family's expansive property was one of the area’s earliest and largest ranches, consisting at its peak of a reported 6,000 acres of land that stretched all the way from the Truckee River to today’s Skyline Boulevard. In 1874, founder George Washington Andrews purchased the earliest portion of the ranch and built his first house near the current intersection of West Plumb Lane and McCarran Boulevard. Reno at that time was just six years old, and still several miles to the east. Settling in with his wife, Bettie, son Ben, and daughter Crissie, Andrews began to grow alfalfa. By the 1890s, Ben had been killed in an accident and George and Bettie had divorced. In 1895 Crissie married William Henry Caughlin, the local sheriff, and the ranch took on his name.

Around 1900, the large ranch house was disassembled at its original location in Virginia City (where it may have been built as early as the 1860s), moved to its present site, and carefully reassembled. The small home that the family had previously inhabited was moved behind the larger house and used as a bunkhouse for the ranch hands. From the time the Caughlins moved into the main house until shortly before her death in 1955, Crissie occupied her beloved home while the ranch continued to produce crops as well as cows, hogs, chickens, and sheep. Upon her death, Crissie left the ranch to her three surviving children, Bill, Syrene, and Betsy, who together sold the majority of the holdings in order to pay the taxes. That land became the basis of the Caughlin Ranch housing development.

The ranch house underwent a year-long restoration in 1993 planned by Crissie’s daughter, Betsy Donnelly, granddaughter Shiela (Lonie), and Shiela’s son Richard Scharbach, an engineer. It finally passed out of the family's hands in 2006. Two years later, the main ranch house (now numbered 3636 Mayberry Drive), the bunkhouse, and the ranch’s historic well (ca. 1900) were all added to the City of Reno’s Historic Register. The property is surrounded by Betsy Caughlin Donnelly Park, which Donnelly donated to Washoe County in 1990 in order to preserve the 30-acre parcel as a refuge of open space and a buffer between the historic ranch house and rapidly encroaching urban development.

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3636 Mayberry Drive, Reno, NV