The Reno Gazette-Journal last week quoted local officials saying that one of the reasons they were reluctant to allow souvenir pieces of the Virginia Street Bridge to be given or sold was that they wanted “to be sensitive to concerns of local historians who may think it's inappropriate to sell off pieces of an historic structure.”
That didn't sound like local historians we know, so we asked the city who they were. A city spokesperson referred us to Kristine Hansen at the Army Corps of Engineers. Hansen suggested we contact the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. She also added that her office “has received no comments from the public regarding sale of pieces of the bridge.”
State historic preservation officer Rebecca Palmer, in turn, told us her office had not been consulted on the matter.
We called some local historians, and none of them knew anything about it. “No one asked me,” said Phil Earl. “I don't see what the big deal is. I think it's fine if people want to have a souvenir of the bridge. I don't understand why they don't just put them out there and let people carry them off.”
The RGJ story also quoted one official saying the city would face “potential safety issues with handing out jagged chunks of concrete.” When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, pieces about an inch wide were sold in convenience stores.