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Carriage rides through Nevada City no longer a feature of Victorian Christmas

FILE - The carriage parked in front of the National Hotel at 2012 Victorian Christmas on Broad Street.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

David Vertin provided indelible memories for generations of Nevada City visitors who took rides in his horse-drawn carriages.

But 40 years was enough, Vertin said Thursday — last year was the last Victorian Christmas for the Nevada City Carriage Company.

“It’s such a loss,” Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey said. “He used to be out there every day. It really added a lot” to the town.

The operation, started in 1979, grew to 20 horses and four carriages over the decades. The handful of horses that drew carriages in Nevada City were kept at a barn on Uren Street, while the rest were kept northeast of Nevada City.

Vertin had the exclusive franchise to operate the carriage company in Nevada City beginning in 1998, offering rides year-round. The downtown carriage tours, costing $40, helped create a unique ambiance and were a fixture during Victorian Christmas.

Vertin retired briefly in 2008, then returned to the streets of Nevada City with a scaled-back operation that only offered rides during special events.

“Last year, I realized it had been 40 years,” Vertin said. “I figured it was a good time to stop.”

Vertin said he tried to find someone to take over the company, adding, “It’s a lot harder (work) than it looks … It takes a toll.”

Typically, he said, the carriage company would start gearing up for the holidays in Thanksgiving, repairing equipment and readying the horses.

This year, he said, “I felt like I was forgetting to put on an article of clothing — like I had forgotten a sock.”

“We loved it,” Vertin added. It was our baby.”

Whittlesey is not sure she will try to replace Vertin’s carriage rides, even next year.

“He knew this town like the back of his hand,” she said. “He knew where to go, he knew where not to go.”

But, Whittlesey said, there is still plenty for visitors to enjoy at Victorian Christmas — and they have three more chances, on Sunday, Dec. 18 and Dec. 22.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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