The Biggest Little Trailer Park: Planning, Waste, and Trailer Housing in Sun Valley, Nevada, 1938-1976
AuthorCummins, Jonathan Miles
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This dissertation examines the history of Sun Valley, Nevada, from 1938 (at the signing of the Small Tract Act) to 1976, the year when the era of unregulated and unplanned use of trailers came to an end (at the signing of the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1976). Sun Valley is a case study in land use and policy, planning and non-planning, various waste problems, and in the use and benefits of trailer housing. The case of Sun Valley fits into the broader contexts of suburbanization and development in the western United States. As such, the history of Sun Valley suggests that there is a complex layer of regional history that has yet been unexplored. This dissertation uses the histories of planning, land use, trailer housing, and waste to contribute to a history of the rural landscapes of the Reno and Sparks region as a part of the urban west. The problems of Sun Valley history (waste, trailer housing, non-planning) are the product of the federal land policy that gave rise to its early settlement. BLM agents warned settlers (and applicants) of the problem of planning for new settlement in the region, and precisely the problems they outlined became permanent parts of Sun Valley. Residents left behind a meaningful body of textual artifacts in their sales ads for land in Sun Valley. These documents illustrate sellers’ interpretations of the place, a perspective that otherwise would remain unknown. They illustrated that trailer housing, while sometimes a selling point, was a means to an end: trailers enabled the settlement of the area, and as they remain the most dominant housing form on this landscape, they also remain the vehicle through which settlers continue to acquire and inhabit this rural western landscape.