It’s just an old tin ashtray, but the stories it could tell…
When fellow Reno divorce ranch history buff, Jerry Garrity, spotted this old tin ashtray from the Del Monte Dude and Guest Ranch in an antiques bazaar in Reno, he knew if anyone would love to have it, that would be me. Indeed, just imagine the stories this ashtray could tell of a divorce seeker contemplating their future while smoking a Camel. What circumstances brought the divorce seeker to Reno for a “quickie” divorce? What was their story? Happy? Sad?
The Del Monte had its heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, and attracted divorce seekers looking for a place to call home for six weeks in Reno. Located 3-1/2 miles south of Reno, the dude ranch sat on property once owned in the 1800s by Myron Lake, Reno’s founding father. The historic ranch house, dating back to 1874, offered divorce seekers an old West experience.
In 1947, the ranch house met an untimely end
In the early morning hours of September 2, 1947, the ranch house caught fire. The fire was started by a cigarette smoked by a 33-year-old divorce seeker from New Jersey. She died in the fire when she refused to leave her second-floor room without any clothes on.
In the room with her at the time was the 23-year-old bartender who worked at The Strip, a nightspot adjoining the Del Monte. The bartender jumped to safety stark naked from the second-story window. He was arrested for indecent exposure.
The historic ranch house was a total loss. All that remains today of the site is a tall, spindly evergreen tree in a parking lot near the corner of South Virginia Street and Del Monte Lane in Reno.
More True Stories…
The Divorce Seekers – A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler
by former Flying M.E. divorce ranch wrangler Bill McGee and his co-author/wife, Sandra McGee