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Area History

The history of Reno and Carson City is incredibly rich and rooted in the American west. While Carson City may be the capital of this state, many people automatically think of two major cities, Las Vegas and Reno when Nevada comes to mind. Both cities got an interesting start and have made quite an impact on the entire state.

Reno History

The Truckee River was responsible for many of the early settlers choosing this location. Lake Tahoe, which is close by was another, but the farmland around the Truckee was rich and attracted many settlers that were trying to carve out a life in the new American west. The first recorded settlers arrived in the mid-1850’s and as soon as the gold rush hit, the area was due for an explosion in population.

Silver was also an important part of the town’s history and soon mines for both were springing up all over the region. In 1871, Reno was named the county seat of Washoe County and the population had grown quite considerably. When the railroad came through the following year, Reno had developed a permanent foothold and wasn’t going to fade away like so many towns in this area.

The biggest event that shaped Reno’s history was probably the legalization of gambling in 1931. Soon, casinos sprang up and resorts were built to support the influx of tourists. The population of the city soared past 210,000 in 2006 and is continuing to grow.

Carson City History

Carson City is now the state capital of Nevada and is home to more than 57,000 people. Named for the famous Kit Carson, the city got its start during the mining boom that swept the state in the mid 1850’s. The area is rich in gold and silver, much like its close neighbor Reno, and the primary inhabitants in the early days were either miners or those that worked in industries related to mining. The Comstock mines were located in Carson City and were responsible for much of its income and growth during this time.

After Nevada was declared a state in 1864 and Carson City was picked to be the capital, growth continued at a much quicker pace. Other industries moved in and the town became less reliant on mining for its main source of income. One of the most historic buildings still stands today and it is the St. Charles Hotel. First built in the late 1800’s, it became the scene of numerous shootouts, hold ups and other Wild West mainstays.

In 1933, as highways began crisscrossing the nation, Carson City got their first major paved thoroughfare. However, it was quite desolate and the kids in the town would frequently roller skate on it. It was during this period that the city became known as the nation’s smallest state capital. Although it may not be the biggest city in the state, or the most famous, it is still an important part of Nevada’s history and its future.