by Jill (Tankersley) Savely
(Reno, NV)

My parents were the gatekeepers of the Rio Grande (Farmers Union) Reservoir from 1952-1959. The house we lived on actually sat ON the dam. (Two rooms downstairs; two rooms upstairs) My oldest brother was a baby when they first took the job; my mother was pregnant upriver 3 more times. My father also worked as a guide/outfitter and state trapper.

In the winter they would leave their car at Wrights Ranch and make the rest of the journey by "Weasel" a WWII half track vehicle. On its final journey it broke down and they had to wade through waist deep snow. My mother carried me (the baby), my father carried the second child and my oldest brother had to walk.

When my youngest brother was born the house and income could no longer support the growing family. My father became a miner; and we moved permanently to town. The Farmers Union built a new house for the gatekeeper and tore the old one down.

I am awed and humbled by how hard my parents worked then to make a living.

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