Tour Locations | Downtown Reno: From the Reno Arch to the Truckee River
Pyramid Lake Cutthroat Trout
Once you cross bridge turn left and walk downstream.
As Reno began grow, and as the mining and logging industries began to grow around it, the city and private companies built dams on the Truckee. These cutoff the Cutthroat trout’s migration route, and even though every dam was supposed to have fish ladders that would allow fish to pass, they often wouldn’t. Or they would build ladders that didn’t work.
The second blow to the cutthroat trout was pollution. Like many American cities at the time, all sewage flowed straight into the river. In addition to that gross fact, mining operations and a paper company upstream would emit all sorts of toxic chemicals into the river. AND loggers in the mountains would often dump unwanted bark and sawdust directly into the water. At one point the sawdust problem got so bad that the place where the Truckee pours into Pyramid Lake was completely clogged with sawdust. It was so thick that fish couldn’t swim through it.
The final blow to the cutthroat trout was over-fishing. Many commercial fishing operations sprung up along the river and in Pyramid Lake, and for decades literal tons of fish were shipped out by train every week.
Only 100 years after the arrival of white settlers, the cutthroat trout became extinct in 1943. And the great migration of monster fish through downtown Reno would not be seen again.
BUT In the 1970s, similar strains of cutthroat were discovered in far North Eastern Nevada, and were reintroduced to Pyramid Lake. Conservationists have been working to restore this fish to the waterway.
There is still a lot of work to do, but with those conservation efforts, trash cleanups by indigenous and environmental groups, and the city’s decision to make the Riverwalk in important part of downtown, the Truckee is still the center of the city of Reno.
Let’s enjoy it for a minute. Keep walking downstream along the river and take your time. I’ll meet you by the big arched bridge on Virginia Street.