The Truckee River, seen below, runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. The river’s first recorded discovery was by Captain John C. Frémont in January 1844. He camped by its terminal at Pyramid, and then followed it to the big bend at Wadsworth. Captain Frémont named the stream the Salmon-Trout River. At the end of his 1845 sojourn in Nevada, he followed it into the Sierra and crossed Donner Pass.
Beginning with the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend party in 1844, the Truckee River became a route for California emigrants until the advent of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1868-1869 brought the wagon train period to a close. After the Southern Pacific took over the railway in 1899 and relocated much of its Nevada alignment, the old Central Pacific roadbed between Sparks and Wadsworth was deeded to Washoe County in 1904 for road purposes. In 1917, the road became a portion of state road 1, which in 1920 became the Nevada section of the victory highway. In 1925, when federal highway names were replaced by a numerical system, the Victory Highway became U.S. highway 40. In 1958, after reconstruction, this route became the initial section of interstate 80 across Nevada.
The river provides water for Reno, Sparks, the Fallon agricultural area and Pyramid Lake.