Perhaps you associate Nevada with the bright lights of Reno and Las Vegas. Or maybe Nevada is the place you go to hike or climb mountains. However, if you have been wondering about Nevada history including the history of Vegas, read on.
Nevada history dates back about 12,000 years to the Glacial Period. During this time, the mountains were covered with ice and the valleys were filled with lakes. Come winter, these lakes would become frozen. Then along came summer. The ice from the lakes would melt, and the snow from the mountains would melt and pass further away. As the mountain water flowed into the lakes, it caused the land to erode into rivers, which eventually dried up to make valleys and gullies. This is the reason why the land that is now considered a desert is surprisingly filled with lush vegetation. Little is known about the early Nevadans, but many refer to them as the Anasazi, which means Ancient Ones.
Fray Francisco Graces was the first white man to enter
the territory that would later be called Nevada. In 1776,
he set out to forge a trail to the colonies which had
previously been established along the west coast between California and Monterey.
The trail was established from the Colorado River. This
was a major event in Nevada history.
As it turns out, this trail is indirectly related to the history of Reno Nevada. In 1859, a man named Charles Fuller built a log bridge across the Truckee River. He decided to charge a fee to those who passed over it en route to Virginia City, where gold had recently been discovered. Fuller also provided gold-seekers with lodging, as well as a place to dine and exchange information with other prospectors. In 1861, a man named Myron Lake purchased Fuller's bridge. With the money he collected from the tolls, he purchased additional land and constructed a new gristmill, livery stable, and kiln. With the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento in 1868, Lake made sure that his bridge crossing was included on the train's route. He was able to do this by deeding a portion of his land to Charles Crocker, who was one of the organizers of the Central Pacific Railroad. On May 13, 1868, the town of Reno was officially established. It was named after Civil War general Jesse Reno. The Lake Mansion is one of the few surviving relics of the history of Reno Nevada.
Reno's illicit past is closely related to the history of the State of Nevada. Nevada's economy was directly inked to the volatile mining industry. Due to the unstable nature of this industry, the state needed other means of financial support. Reno became known as "Sin City," because of the various brothels and gambling casinos that called it home.
Despite the fact that the history of Vegas is characterized
by a strong Mormon influence, Las Vegas Nevada is also
referred to as "Sin City." However, that was not always
the case. In the early 1900s, water from the wells in
Las Vegas made it a water stop for wagon trains traveling
between Los Angeles,
California and Albuquerque,
New Mexico. In 1905, another important event in the
history of Vegas occurred. The construction of the railroad
that went from Los Angeles California to Salt
Lake City would soon put Las Vegas on the map. It
was founded as a city on May 15th of that year.
Then, in 1930, when President Roosevelt signed the bill
for the Boulder Dam, the population of Las Vegas increased.
The legalization of gambling in 1931 was a milestone in
the history of Vegas, in that it made the city the gambling
capitol of the world.