Derby Diversion Dam


Derby Diversion Dam

Washoe County
  39.58925, -119.44829

"I think the largest fish I've ever caught in the Truckee River was around this spot, about a quarter mile south of this dam. The lower Truckee Is crowned with lots of slackwater, ideal for big bruiser Brown Trout, Carp, and Catfish. For as long as I can remember, this marker has always stood here, and although I've acknowledged it in the past, reading its text was never a part of my interest. Needless to say, that has changed. #43, a hidden little marker right off the interstate, records an important event that single-handedly allowed commercial agriculture to the Silver State. What's funny is that while this marker praises the Newlands Reclamation Project, it fails to acknowledge its life-altering impact on Pyramid Lake to the north, specifically, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Nevada's State Fish. After diversions began here on the river to send water eastward to the Lahontan Valley, lake levels at Pyramid began to recede, so much in fact that Pyramid's native fish population was wiped out. Gone. Kaput. What took eons to evolve, man had destroyed within a year. It's only after re-introduction of Lahontan Cutthroat from Walker Lake that this endangered fish species was saved and the great fishery continues (better than ever) at Pyramid Lake. As an angler, my allegiance stands against Newlands. As an historian, however ... my allegiance is torn, commanding steadfast neutrality." -- Journal Entry, August 2007

Exit 36 from I-80, then 1 mile east along Frontage Road, 20 miles east of Sparks
Today, the marker is currently missing.

Original Date Visited: 8/14/07

Signed: No

Notes: Finding this marker can be a bit tricky. Leave the interstate at Exit 36 and turn right (westbound) onto a very discreet frontage road that hugs the freeway. Proceed 1 mile to the marker on your left. From here, more adventure awaits you! The frontage road loses pavement just past the marker and makes a swift left underneath the railroad tracks to access the dam itself. The road is extremely rough and not worth the trouble since visitors cannot access the dam anyway. Keep in mind that at least a dozen exits in the Truckee River Canyon are there for a reason. Use them to find some very pretty and secluded points along the river!

Currently Missing -- Last Seen: January 2011
First off, I must thank a good number of you who have informed me of this recent MIA. [43] Derby Diversion Dam was a marker I would least expect to disappear - a marker that sat just well out of harm's way from I-80's beaten path to avoid demise. Apparently, the marker was not far enough. The photo below shows its untimely death. Many speculations revolve around what happened to this marker. The most sound explanation deals with a carload of teenagers who recklessly plowed into the marker sometime in January 2011. It wouldn't take too much force to knock over this "medium" sized marker and from the look of it, this is exactly what happened. I have my work cut out for me if I am to find out the truth behind this marker's sudden disappearance. As a result of these events, [43] may have been relocated to any of the six NDOT maintenance stations in the immediate Reno/Sparks area to undergo repairs, or in the worst case scenario, it may have taken an immediate trip to the junkyard. Unfortunately, there is not enough information to form a conclusion of any kind at the moment and such will most likely be the case for awhile.

Updates will be posted once I have more information. As always, my search will continue as diligent as ever. In the meantime, pay your respects to this sudden murder should you visit this neck of the woods Until then, if you happen to find out any information in regards to this case, please let me know so I can update this information with full credit given to you!

  • Sign for Derby Dam from the interstate off-ramp
  • Lovely Marker 43 before its disappearance in 2011
  • Marker 42 plaque
  • Hopefully we will witness the return of this important historical marker in the future
  • Hopefully we will witness the return of this important historical marker in the future

Exact Description:
Derby Dam, constructed under specification Number 1 and Drawing 1 of the U.S. Reclamation Service, now the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, diverts the flow of the Truckee River for irrigation use. It was the forerunner of such mighty structures as Hoover, Grand Coulee, Shasta and Glen Canyon Dams.

Derby Dam was authorized by Secretary of the Interior E.A. Hitchcock on March 11, 1903. It is part of the Newlands Project, named in honor of Nevada Senator Francis G. Newlands who worked for passage of the reclamation laws in 1902. Derby takes it name from a nearby Southern Pacific Railroad station of the day.

Charles A. Warren & Co. of San Francisco, the contractor, started work on the dam on October 2, 1903 and finished May 20, 1905. Operational water diversions began in 1906.

Next Marker:


Related Links & Markers

 [62] -- Truckee River - West   [63] -- Truckee River - East   [215] -- Lahontan Dam 

Have you been to this marker? Tell us all about it here!