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Exploring the Back Roads of Nevada: Bower's Mansion Regional State Park

Updated on November 19, 2013
Slide Mountain Sierra Nevada's
Slide Mountain Sierra Nevada's | Source
Historic Bower's Mansion
Historic Bower's Mansion

A Short History of Bower's Mansion

My family just bought a home on the East side of Washoe Lake in Washoe Valley, a valley located between Carson City and Reno Nevada on Highway 395.

From our dining room window we wake up to a view of Slide Mountain, a part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. At the foot of Slide Mountain, tucked into the trees, is Bower's Mansion Regional State Park and Davis Creek Campground.

Eilly Orrum purchased the land at the foot of Slide Mountain in 1856 with her first husband Alex Cowan. Alex left Eilly to move to Utah with the Mormons and a divorced Eilly moved to Virginia City.

Eilly started a boarding house at Gold Hill in Virginia City at the beginning of the mining boom. Most of her boarders could not pay with cash and gave Eilly pieces of their claims as payment. As the boom reached its peak she found herself with a small fortune.

Her fortune mixed with the money of her third husband Sandy Bowers was used to build their dream home at the foot of the Sierra Mountains.

J. Neely Johnson, the ex-Governor of California, worked on the mansion as its primary architect and used a Georgian Revival and Italianiate Architectural style. Eilly had stonecutters cut stone she had imported from her home country of Scotland.

The cost to build the mansion was around $300,000.00, which was an amazing amount of money in the late 1800's. Sandy and Eilly travelled around Europe to find furniture for their new home.

In 1863 their daughter Pearl died on an excursion overseas and in 1868 Sandy passed on also.

Through the tragedy of her loss Eilly found that the years of 1873-75 were when the mansion reached its peak of popularity. Eilly used her home to throw the Woman's Suffragete Ball and the Miner's Ball every year.

In 1876 Eilly fell on hard times and the mansion was foreclosed. Currently Bower's Mansion is owned by the Washoe County Parks Department and tours are available to enjoy the history of the mansion.

What do you consider important at your State's Parks?

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Bower Mansion Pool
Bower Mansion Pool | Source

Bower's Mansion Swimming Pool

The Bower's Mansion swimming pool reopened recently after a four year closure brought on by the recession.

The William Pennington Foundation donated $150,000 to renovate the pool.

My children both go to the Bower's Mansion Pool for their swim lessons in the summer. It is a great family pool to help cool down after a day of looking at the Mansion or playing at the playground located nearby.

Near the playground and the pool is about an acre of lawn that houses picnic tables and barbeques for a small family gatherings or a large family occasion.

The pool is open through August 18th of every summer from 12 pm to 5 pm it cost $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.

Pond at Davis Creek
Pond at Davis Creek | Source
Davis Creek Sign
Davis Creek Sign | Source

Davis Creek Campground

In the early 1980's the side of Slide Mountain slid into the valley destroying thousands of dollars worth of property and cattle. I was in High School at the time and remember the mud and destruction that was left in the path of the slide.

Bower's Mansion and Davis Creek were not touched by this destruction. Everytime we hike into the Sierra's I think about this and wonder how quickly history is covered up with wildlife.

If you drive next door to Bower's Mansion Regional Park you will see the sign for Davis Creek Regional Park.

Davis Creek Regional Park is surrounded by Jeffrey Pine and has a small scenic pond for its heart.

There are many day areas with picnic benches for small family gatherings or family occasions. We have used the park for a Father's Day or two and a Birthday.

All around the park are nature trails and group hikes are available.

There are sixty two overnight campgrounds with year round hot showers available.

There is also an equestrian trail head access to Toiyabe National Forest.

My family goes hiking on these trails just about every weekend in the summer and they seem to go on forever into the beauty that is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Bower's Mansion Bluegrass Festival

Every year the Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association throws a hoedown at Bower's Mansion.

This yearly Bluegrass Festival brings talent from around the country and last from August 12th to August 17th.

Not only does the lawn by the pool have a makeshift stage but small perfomances are located throughout the park.

The event usually has ten or more Bluegrass Bands playing throughout the festival. Here is a list of some of last years performers:

Micheal Martin Murphey

Frank Sullivan and Dirty Kitchen

Anderson Family Bluegrass

and many more.

Camping is covered by the festival tickets and the campsites are located at the Davis Creek Regional Park campground.

In the evening after the main performances the true beauty of Bluegrass Festivals is witnessed.

A multitude of stringed instruments mixed with a few percussionists gather in tents amongst the campground and have improvisational jams all night long.

This experience in and of itself is worth the price of admission. I hope one day you can attend, or maybe if you find yourself travelling along Highway 395 between Carson City and Reno Nevada stop in at Bower's Mansion for a picnic and a swim. Happy travels and I will see you with the next installment of "Exploring the Back Roads..."


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    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you Valleypoet, I am working on my next in the series and will include a link to yours. Jamie

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm sorry that I missed this one Jamie...This is a really interesting read, and Slide Mountain looks like an awesome view to have from your dining room..great hub :-))

    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Good Morning to you all and thank you:

      Faith Reaper


      Romeos Quill


      It was great to wake up to your comments this morning. Jamie

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Jamie, an interesting and informative article, and wow... what a wonderful view to greet the day! My very best to you all.


    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      That sure is an expensive mansion Jamie! Your kids must be thrilled to be taking their swimming lessons at such a prestigious homestead.

      Lol! ' Dirty Kitchen '....what a great name for a bluesman.

      All the Best,


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Exploring the Back Roads of Nevada: Bower's Mansion Regional State Park sounds a wonderful experience. An informative, interesting and useful hub.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      What a spectacular view! Talk about a piece of heaven right there looking out one's window each morning. Wow! Thank you for taking us down the back roads of Nevada and Bower's Mansion Regional State Park. I love Bluegrass music too. This is a wonderful addition to the back roads series!

      I see you have been busy writing away. I have a lot of reading to catch up on for sure.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you suzettenaples, I hope you have a great day! Jamie

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      You have a beautiful view of the mountain from your home. Just spectacular. Thank you for sharing your state park with us. It is beautiful and there seems to be so much to do. I woud love the Bluegrass Festival and would love to see that one day. I see you took billybuc up on his writing challenge. Great job!

    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you annart, I will stop by to see how things are going on your end soon. Jamie

      Thank you Kim, and a happy hump day to you also, this is the downward slope. Jamie

    • ocfireflies profile image


      5 years ago from North Carolina


      Thanks you for joining Bill by bringing to view these awesome places located in all parts of our beautiful country. I would love to take a year and just put all of these stops on my journey. I know I would enjoy seeing USA in this way. Also, congratulations on the purchase of your home. The view sounds pretty amazing.

      Happy Hump Day,


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      What a great place and you've given us a good history of it all along with the present day facilities. I'll put your link into mine - this series is growing well! Up, useful, interesting & beautiful.

    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you Bill for letting me take part in your hub adventure. I will have another soon. Jamie

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful addition to the "Exploring" series. Thank you so much for taking part. I'll link this to mine.


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