Ranching on the High Desert: Five Generations, One Family

It takes two cowboys to lasso and bring down a 200-pound calf for branding. ItÕs grueling work in 90-degree heat, through a nonstop scrum of charging livestock and constant dust clouds that leave some ranch hands with pneumonia. PHOTO BY JEFF SCHEID

Photo by Jeff Scheid

Decades before mining and gambling came to define Nevada’s commercial success, its largest industry was ranching. The discovery of the Comstock Lode (1859) flooded the state with newcomers seeking their fortune in silver, and increased the need for food suppliers, as did the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted individuals the right to claim public land as private after living on it for five years. The establishment of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 provided a quick and efficient way to transport beef to market.

In this program Anna Fallini-Berg and Las Vegas Review-Journal photojournalist Jeff Scheid tell the story of the Fallini family, whose Nevada ranching legacy spans 150 years. The presentation addresses how the family has adapted to change, sustained the land and family over five generations, and faced the modern-day challenges of operating a 647,000-acre cattle ranch (approximately 1,000 square miles).

Las Vegas Review-Journal photojournalist Jeff Scheid documented branding at the Twin Springs Ranch in Central Nevada. A gallery exhibit of his photos, along with copy by R-J journalist Jennifer Robinson, called "Ranching on the High Desert: Five Generations, One Family" is current showing at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City. PHOTO BY JENNY SCHEID

Jeff Scheid; Photo by Jenny Scheid

Scheid’s photos portray this rugged and resilient family over a single day, from sunup to sundown, as they begin the three-week process of branding the ranch’s 1,800 head of cattle.

A graduate of California Polytechnic State University’s engineering program, Fallini-Berg works the Twin Springs Ranch with her husband, children, an aunt, two sisters, parents and cousins, overseeing a herd that remains genetically connected to the original stock from 1864.

Scheid has documented life under Las Vegas’ bright lights for three decades. While on assignment at the Fallini ranch for a newspaper story on home schooling, the family’s photo history on the ranch walls inspired his photo project Ranching on the High Desert: Five Generations, One Family.  The exhibition of 28 black-and-white images was featured at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City as part of the state’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Included with museum admission; free to museum members.