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The Carson Valley is one of the earliest-settled, richest, and most productive of the state's agricultural regions. In spring, summer, and autumn, when the valley is bursting with life, the vast irrigated tracts are a green velvet patchwork quilt upon which the stacks of baled hay stand like giant cheeses, and cottonwoods and poplars rise up like flashing green flames. The meadows are sopped with water from the Sierra, fat and languid cattle browse placidly everywhere.

Far from being twins, Minden and Gardnerville, these sibling towns of the Carson Valley have different fathers.

Gardnerville is a farm town established in the 1860s to serve the agricultural population in a more conveniently central location than longer-established Genoa at the foot of the Sierra. Minden is the railroad's child, born in 1905 as a planned and platted subdivision with a brick depot, a central park and a grid of quiet streets.