In mid-autumn, 1905, as the last bit of concrete was being poured for the Virginia Street Bridge, hundreds of people converged three miles south of town for the grand opening of Moana Springs. Sitting on a portion of the Haines Ranch atop a subterranean thermal belt, Reno’s newest resort was developed under the ownership of C.T. Short, John N. Evans, and Al North. Short brought the name for Moana Springs to Reno by way of Hawaii, where a retreat bearing the same name invoked a myth which told of a princess who cured assorted ailments using sparkling spring waters. Indeed, doctors and scientists promoted the curative powers of mineral-rich geothermal waters and Moana Springs was touted as a health spa as well as a recreation destination.
More than just somewhere to swim and soak, Moana Springs offered an abundance of activities to the community of Reno and its visitors. A portion of the property was excavated to create a lake for winter ice skating and summer boating. A dance hall and bar were constructed and an outdoor dancing pavilion was erected. Moana Springs presented boxing matches and hosted Jim Jeffries as he trained for the “Fight of the Century” in 1910. Aviation exhibitions were choreographed above the property and exotic animals were displayed on the grounds. Moana Springs hosted teams from California on its baseball diamond, produced rodeos, and was the site of trap shoots, school parties and circus performances. The resort even bottled its spring water and crafted ginger ale for off-site sales. Moana Springs was by all accounts a vital component of the cultural central nervous system of a robust and growing city. The resort was so popular that in 1907, the Nevada Interurban Street Railway established a regular service line connecting the property to the city limits.
The onset of WWI, however, brought a downturn for the resort. Having purchased the property in 1917, Louis Berrum of Nevada Interurban faced numerous challenges, including a 1926 fire which burned the original pool house to the ground. Although a new building was constructed and other activities carried on, the great prosperity of earlier years was never quite realized again. The once flourishing property was purchased by the city of Reno and December 12, 1957 began a six-day demolition process of the bath houses at Moana Springs. A sadness was felt across generations when all that remained was a gaping hole in the ground, now commemorated with Historical Marker No. 234. A municipal pool was built in 1960 and the site operated as Moana Stadium, home to Reno’s professional baseball teams from 1955-2009. That complex was demolished in 2012 and was replaced by municipal sports fields and a gravel lot where the pool once sat. The Reno City Council is currently considering development plans for a Moana Springs Aquatics Complex at the site of the old resort.