Mark Tanner Construction’s team generously donated time in preserving a piece of Truckee’s history in moving the church bell from the Assumption Catholic Church. We contacted the Church requesting information on the history of the bell and Katie was pleased to submit the following:
History of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church The first Mass of the Assumption Parish offered in the newly constructed church building was on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1869. It was a mere 3 months after the Transcontinental Railroad was completed. The first pastor was Fr. John M. Mevel, a Frenchman. At the time Truckee was included in the Catholic Diocese of Grass Valley. The church was located on railroad land next to the Central Pacific locomotive roundhouse. The church burned down in 1890 and was immediately rebuilt in the same location. In 1907 the church building was moved to Church St., just east of the large rocks that are in back of the Methodist Church. (Church St. was so named for an extremely skilled teamster of the 1800s named Eli Church, not for the religious establishments on the road.) The church building was moved again in 1949 when State Highway 267 was constructed, co-existent with Donner Pass Road. Its location on E Street south of Trout Creek is where it remains today. No written records exist to establish when exactly or by whom the bell in the tower was purchased and installed, but photographs held by Truckee Donner Historical Society show the tower being constructed in 1883. The bell apparently survived the fire of 1890 and was re-hung when the church was rebuilt.
The bell is the oldest in Truckee. The yoke was made in 1873 and the bell was cast in 1878 by W.T. Garratt foundry in San Francisco. The early years of the Assumption Parish saw many changes. In 1885 Bishop Monogue of the newly formed Diocese of Sacramento established parish boundaries that included Truckee, Verdi, and the Sierra Valley. The new pastor was Father Michael Walsh. He served until 1889. In those early days all of the priests assigned to Assumption Church found their duty to be extremely taxing. Until 1912, the parish of Truckee embraced the entire territory lying east of the Sierra and north of the Southern Pacific Railroad, including the counties of Modoc, Lassen and Plumas. To offer Mass in all areas of the territory the priest might traverse a distance of 600 miles via stage line, railroad, or horse-drawn buggy. The mission church of Our Lady of the Lake was established in 1947. An addition to the building was needed within just a few years. A significant addition was made to the Assumption Church building in 1954, but the tiny church was often full to bursting on holidays or on any Sunday when lots of travelers were in the area. The new church on Alder Drive is more spacious and energy efficient, and holds many of the sacred items that had been in the old church: the tabernacle; the crucifix; the Stations of the Cross; statues of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, St. Jude; and the stained glass windows. The bell is in safekeeping until a suitable location for it can be established. Even without the sounding of the bell, the Catholic faithful of the Truckee area still are answering the call to come to worship their Lord.