Barely more than a few houses, the small village is surrounded by a large state forest.
This area was notorious during the Civil War as a hideout for a gang of pirates, but Reno was built by the railroad, not gangsters. The mouth of Crooked Creek was the transfer point for trains on the westbound narrow gauge with the north-south tracks along the river. In 1882, Reno had a railroad station, a roundhouse, a residence for the agent, a coal shed, a water tank, a few houses, and a post office, which is more than it has today. This was never going to be a big community because of geography: between the slough and the bluffs, there just isn’t much room to build a town. Eleven inches of rain on June 16, 1946 led to flash flooding down the Crooked Creek valley, washing out roads, the railroad, and some pigs. Today, the unincorporated village has a few houses and a lot of scenery.
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Getting on the River
Take your canoe or kayak to Reno Bottoms (563.873.3423), a 10-mile one-way trail that begins at the spillway for Lock and Dam 8 and goes downstream to New Albin, Iowa, passing through backwaters that will give you a feel for what the Upper Mississippi River was like before the lock and dam system was built in the 1930s.
Sports and Recreation
Reno Recreation Area (Hillside Rd.; 507.724.2107), part of the Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest, has thousands of acres of wilderness for camping, hiking, and horseback riding. There is an overlook on Reno Bluff that is an easy 10-15 minute hike uphill on an old quarry road. To reach the overlook, drive one mile past the camping area to another small parking lot on the right. On the trail, go right at the T intersection and stay to the right when you reach the quarry; the overlook is just above the quarry. In an hour, you can explore both the high overlook and walk along the ridge. But don’t limit yourself to these areas. The Reno Recreation Area has a 17-mile network of trails that are popular with hikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers.
The Reno Recreation Area (507.724.2107) has several different areas for primitive camping, many of which are popular with groups traveling around by horse.
Heading upriver? Check out Brownsville.
Heading downriver? Check out New Albin.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2011