When the Central Pacific Railroad was built along the Truckee River in 1867, a construction camp later called Bronco came into being at the base of Bronco Creek about ¾ of a mile south of today's Floriston. Here, brothers Alexander and Lucius Wicks operated a wood yard, store, and telegaph office in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1883, Joseph Martin established the Floriston Ice Company, which would build a new ice house and pond just downstream from Bronco. In 1891, the Rocky Run Ice Company built another plant, and that year the community name changed to Floriston. By 1893, Floriston was noted as having a population of 175, railroad turntable, and telegraph office in addition to the icehouses. On August 25, 1895, however, the Rocky Run ice house and shop burned.

In 1899, the Floriston Commercial Company was formed and began construction on a large pulp and paper mill. Opened May 22, 1900 at a cost of $500,000, the Floriston Pulp & Paper Mill was among the largest in the world. On the hill overlooking the mill, a company town of numerous houses, a hotel, store, hospital, schoolhouse, recreation hall, and railroad depot were built. In 1905, the Floriston Commercial Company became the Floriston Pulp & Paper Company, then the Floriston Paper Company the next year; it was finally absorbed by Crown Columbia in 1912. In 1914, the Floriston Inn burned, but was quickly replaced by the fine 60-room Floriston Hotel.

Unfortunately, the Company was quickly met with litigation. As early as 1904, complaints arose regarding a large amount of pollution, including acid and chemicals, which had seeped into the Truckee River and washed downstream into Nevada. Remediation efforts were attempted, but proved to be unsuccessful and too costly, and the mill (by then under the ownership of the Crown Zellerbach Corporation) was shuttered on Christmas Eve of 1930. By 1947, Floriston was vacant except for a watchman, and was purchased by Preston L. Wright of San Francisco. On March 20, 1949, the Floriston Hotel burned to the ground.

Today Floriston is home to a small population, and many of the original company houses from 1900 remain (most prominently the Superintendent's Home). Nothing remains of the ice and paper industries, and Interstate 80 covers the site of the mill. Remnants of a dam built 1899 just below town are not related to its history, and instead provided water for the powerhouse at Farad until it was washed out in 1997.

Central Pacific Railroad
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