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Revised 27 December 2010


Nevada has been home to humans sine at least 12,000 years ago according to the petroglyph cave drawings in the Valley of Fire.  It was the home to the Mohave, Paiute, Shoshone and Washo Indians and houses a large portion of our nations desert lands.  The explorers first visited Nevada around 1776, when when the Spanish missionaries entered its southern borders seeking a route from the Spanish settlements in New Mexico to their settlements in California.

The next hardy soul to come into Nevada was a Canadian trader, Peter Skene Ogden, who traversed the northern boundary area and discovered the Humboldt River in 1828.  American explorer and fur traders, Jedediah Smith and Joseph Walker were soon to follow.  Trails crossing the state were heavily traversed by those seeking their way to the California gold fields.   The first settlement into the area was the Mormon settlement known as Mormon Station, later changed to Genoa, which was created in the Carson Valley.

In 1843 to 1846, John Fremont and Kit Carson explored the Great Basin area and in 1848, the United States gained Nevada as a result of war with Mexico.  

By 1859, Nevada was involved in its own mining strike when Gold and silver were discovered in what became the Comstock Lode, one of the richest deposits of silver in the country and a continuing supplier of gold even today.  Virginia City and other boomtowns sprang up overnight as people flocked to the area in search of wealth, only to dry up and become ghost towns housing nothing but the wind and the tarantulas as the deposits either failed to materialize or dried up.  In 1861, Nevada was declared to be a Territory.  The larger of the mines continued to financially support the economy and on 31 October 1864, Nevada joined the Union as our 36th state.

In 1873, the unheard of in mining circles occurred and the United States Federal government moved off of the silver standard and changed to gold.  The Federal government began limiting the use of silver in coins and as a result, the mining industry began to fade.  As the gold and silver mines began to peter out around 1880, people began leaving Nevada and seeking their fortune elsewhere and Nevada's population went into a wane that continued for the next ten years.  In 1900 the Nevada mining community revived when new deposits of silver and gold were discovered and a new mineral, copper was found.  The most striking event to occur in Nevada in recent history was their choice to make gambling in Nevada illegal in 1909.  In 1931--they saw the error of their ways and gambling resumed to become their greatest source of tourism and income.

Name Date formed Parent County County Seat
Carson unknown discontinued after 1860 (See Utah)  
Churchill 1861 Original County Fallon
Clark 1909 Lincoln Las Vegas
Douglas 1861 Original County Minden
Elko 1869 Lander Elko
Esmeralda 1861 Original County Goldfield
Eureka 1873 Lander Eureka
Humboldt 1861 Original County Winnemucca
Lander 1861 Original County Austin
Lincoln 1869 Nye Ploche
Lyon 1861 Original County Yerington
Mineral 1911 Esmerelda Hawthorne
Nye 1864 Esmerelda Tonopah
Ormsby 1861 Original County Carson City
Pahute   Discontinued some time after 1870  
Pershing 1919 Humboldt Lovelock
Roop   discontinued some time after 1870  
St. Mary's   discontinued sometime after 1860 (See Utah)  
Storey 1861 Original County Virginia City
Washoe 1861 Original County Reno
White Pine 1864 Lincoln Ely