Franktown is a settlement on the western edge of the Washoe Valley. It is mostly made up of single-family residences and ranches. The major tourist attraction is Bowers Mansion, and the adjacent Bowers Mansion Regional Park.
The community was settled by Mormons, laid out by Elder Orson Hyde and named after Frank Poirer in 1856. Franktown soon became the second-largest town in the valley, after Washoe City, due to the farming that was being done in the valley, and the logging that was being done in the mountains. When the Virginia and Truckee Railroad extended a branch line through the Washoe Valley to Reno, a station was built at Franktown.
On February 1, 1881, a heavy rainstorm filled the Little Valley Reservoir, which was located in the mountains directly to the west of Franktown. The waters undermined the rudimentary dam that had been built by the settlers, and a wall of water came rushing down the canyon and directly through the heart of town. No one was killed, but up to $50,000 worth of damage was done, including a mile of V&T track being washed out. The townsfolk petitioned the Nevada Legislature for aid to rebuild the town, but they were denied. Many people moved away after that, and the town never recovered.
See also: Nevada State Historical Marker #114
- Carson Times, February 22, 2008: Washoe Valley's Franktown destroyed in 1881 spring flood