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Let’s Explore Historic Truckee, California

By T. Thompson

Truckee, CA--Jan. 25, 1885Put on your cowboy hat and head downtown. Downtown Truckee that is. Dubbed the Gateway to the Sierra, Truckee lays between the desert of Nevada and the gold country of California, with Lake Tahoe only fifteen miles away. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses Truckee as does the Emigrant Trail. But it’s the Historic Downtown that delights most families.

You might be able to catch the Wild West Shooters out on an exhibition weekend. Gun fights, saloon dancers, it’s a reenactment of the wild Truckee heydays when cowboys and gold hunters rode into town to quench their thirst and appetite.

Historic Truckee comprises the Commercial Row section. Now historic buildings have been transformed into trendy shops, galleries and restaurants. They once housed saloons, herb shops (Chinese influence), general store and rooming houses; even a red light district.

Kids will probably get bored dawdling over baubles in the shops, but there are some attractions that are kid Old Truckee Variety Storefriendly. The Old Truckee Jail Museum is pretty interesting if you can catch it open. Built in 1875, this jail was the longest operating jail in California. With iron bars on the windows, the jail has four cells, two upstairs and two down. Converted into an eclectic collection of Truckee history, there are historic photos, Chinese artifacts, historic skis, and various "stuff" of interest. It is located on Jiboom Street behind Commercial Row.

The Truckee Variety Store is another must see for families. Just like an old time general store, they’ve got penny candy (well the idea is the same), rows of inexpensive toy cars and novelties, and stacks of Beanie Babies.

Another stop is Bud’s Sporting Goods and Fountain. They carry fishing supplies, sleds, and various other sporting goods. But the draw is the old fashioned soda fountain, complete with revolving stools and mirrored fountain. Enjoy a Cherry Coke or a real Ice Cream Soda. Throw an arriving train in and you’ll have a memorable day.

Downtown Truckee shopkeepersTrains. You can’t escape the numerous trains rumbling through the center of Truckee. Visit the Depot, now housing the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center to get a feel for historic train travel. They have a nice collection of historic photos, as well as activity maps and brochures..

On the train theme, make a stop in Truckee Train and Toy. Train aficionados, they’ll get you hooked on toy trains. The kids will like the aerial tram that traverses the store as well as the wide toy selection. If you are looking for a place for breakfast or lunch, check out the Squeeze In. They offer a huge selection of omelets, plus a game of checkers while you wait. For a good coffee shop (and some great pancakes), try the Wagon Wheel. For dinner try the new Dragonfly or for excellent food in a casual ambiance, the Bar of America (the food comes from the Pacific Crest next door).

Downtown events include May’s Windows on History, July’s 4th of JulyOld Truckee Hometown Parade, September’s Truckee Railroad Days, and March’s Snowfest. All are wonderful family activities that can be combined with a day of exploring Historic Truckee.



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