Joseph E. Joerger’s father was born in Alsace-Loraine near Strasbourg, France and came to the United States in 1848. Joseph Joerger Jr. brought his family to the Truckee area in 1876 where he homesteaded much of the land that is now Martis Valley. In May, he would drive his cattle, reported to be as many as 700, from the foothills of the western Sierra to the Martis Valley to graze and provide fresh dairy products to the area.
Joseph, also known as “Grasshopper Joe”, was 5 feet two inches tall! He married Martha Smith Joerger and had nine children. Upon the death of Joe Jr., his daughters each inherited one half of the ranch. The oldest daughter, Ella Bertha Joerger, married William S. Waddle. Ella’s ranch property was rented to her brother Joseph Emil for cattle grazing. Gertrude Joerger inherited the balance of ranch land near present day Lahontan.
The Martis Valley ranch land was in the Waddle/Joerger family from the 1870’s until Fibreboard Corporation acquired the land in 1964. Portions of the ranch property were subsequently acquired by the Army Corp of Engineers for flood control projects.
The remainder of the Martis Ranch Property, known as Waddle Ranch, was acquired by the Pritzker family of Chicago in the 1970s. Plans for resort development ended when the Truckee Donner Land Trust purchased Waddle Ranch for $23.5 million. In 2009, title was conveyed to the Truckee Tahoe Airport District. A conservation easement prohibits future development and protects the land for future generations.