Charles Sadleir witnessed the birth of the Reno Rodeo in 1919, and engineered its revival in the 1930's.
“He started the whole damn thing up again,” said Link Piazzo, a lifelong Reno resident and member of the Reno Rodeo Association board of directors in the 1950s and 1960s. If it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t have been a Reno Rodeo.”
Charles James Sadleir was born in Onawa, Iowa in 1873 and educated in Ogden, Utah. As a railroad engineer for Southern Pacific, he had the opportunity to visit Reno on many occasions and by 1902, he had left the railroad and was residing in Reno. In 1902, he and a partner became proprietors of the Overland Hotel on the corner of Commercial Row and Center Street in downtown Reno. By 1903, Sadleir was the sole proprietor and the Overland became known as one of Reno’s finest hotels.
A leading businessman, he was active in community affairs as was one of the founders of the Reno Chamber of Commerce. He also served a term on the Reno City Council. In 1913, he left Reno for San Francisco and over the next several years managed the Grand Hotel, the Senate Hotel and the Hotel Somerton. He then moved to Blackfoot, Idaho and managed the Eccles Hotel for a year before returning to Reno in 1918.
There Sadleir took over management of the Hotel Golden, which was owned by George Winfield, Sr., on e of the original founders of the Reno Rodeo in 1919. Sadleir ran the Golden until 1926. He then mover to another Winfield property, the newly built Riverside Hotel, considered at the time to be Reno’s most prestigious.
Sadleir remained active in community affairs and was instrumental in the building of the Mt. Rose Highway.
In 1935, the Reno Rodeo and Livestock Association was formed and Sadleir was named the president of the group. It was he who came up with the idea to solicit local businesses to help subsidize the event. The foundation for the modern-day Reno Rodeo was built.
In the mid-1940s, Sadeir was honored by the City of Reno. The road leading to the rodeo grounds was named in his honor. Unfortunately street signs later placed on the road misspelled his name. Today the street is known as “Sadlier Way.”
Sadleir was president of the Reno rodeo Association from 1935 though 1948. In 1948, however, he became ill on a trip to New Orleans. After returning west and recuperating in Bakersfield, California, for several months, he suffered a heart attack. He was moved to a hospital in Oakland died there on July 10 at the age of 75.
The stories for the Count Down to 100 are excerpts from “A History – The First 80 Years” by Guy Clifton.