Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 11th, 2011
Reno Evening Gazette
September 17, 1879
A Wahhoo Seen Near Wadsworth – A Party in Pursuit.
ED. GAZETTE – Report was brought to town yesterday that a wahhoo had been
seen in the mountains west of town. The night before, the people of Jones’
ranch had been aroused by the wahhoo’s long-drawn howl, which was likened to
a shrill fog-whistle. They saw the mountains illuminated as with an
This they found was owing to the glare of the creature’s eyeballs. It sat
upon a neighboring cliff, and so brilliant was the light emitted that none
could gaze upon the creature, even for an instant.
This report, backed by authority, so excited our nimrods that a hunt was
organized immediately. Jake Lewis, J. W. Holbrook, Wm. Pierson and others
started this morning, and brilliant work is looked for before the close of
Anticipating that a lengthened hunt might prove necessary, the party laid in
provisions, of which the following is a summary: Whiskey, 200 rounds
ammunition, demijohn, 1 piece bacon, limes, 1 bottle whiskey, 1 box cigars,
50 rounds additional whiskey, more whiskey.
The result of the chase is awaited with breathless anxiety. A special
reporter accompanied the party, and full particulars will be given on their
return. Subscriber, Wadsworth, Sept. 17, 1879.
This is one of a series of stories this Reno newspaper ran in both its daily and weekly editions in late summer and early fall of the year. The wahhoo was alleged to combine features of a dog, a pig, and a cat and theorized to be a mysterious hybrid. As the letter above should tell you, its existence outside the imaginations of editors and readers is unlikely. The wahhoo is to all appearances a fabulous beast on the order of the jackalope or the sidehill dodger (with which the wahhoo has some characteristics in common). I have read a cryptozoologist or two who seem, albeit not entirely credulous, not wholly in on the joke either. In those days, if apparently no longer, Nevada had a county named
Wahhoo. I suspect all of this is an inside local joke whose true, underlying humor is lost to those who weren’t living in the Reno area in 1879. — Jerry Clark