Carson City

Though it was long inhabited by the Washoe people, John C. Frémont and his party were the first European Americans to reach what is now called Eagle Valley in January 1843. Among those in Frémont's party was guide and scout Kit Carson, for whom the Carson River was named. In 1851, Eagle Station was established as a trading post and stopover for emigrants traveling to California and a few settlers soon arrived in the valley.

In 1858, Abraham Curry and a group of business partners arrived in Eagle Valley and purchased most of the land, including the station. Believing that a new territory would soon be created from the western part of the Utah Territory, Curry surveyed and laid out the new townsite of Carson City, setting aside a 10-acre parcel of land to later house the Capitol. After rich discoveries were made on the Comstock Lode the following year, people flocked to the region and Carson City quickly grew to become a freight and transportation center with a population of 500. From 1860-61, the Pony Express stopped in town, and the Overland Mail Route passed through as well. In 1861, Curry's speculation proved to be correct, and the Nevada Territory was established. By the end of the year, Carson City was named the capital of the new territory.

On October 31, 1864, Nevada was officially declared a state, and Carson City maintained its status as the capital. The town continued to thrive as a transport center, and in 1869 the Virginia & Truckee Railroad arrived, providing a connection to Virginia City and later to the Central Pacific in Reno. The handsome new Capitol Building was completed in 1871, and by the 1880s Carson City was home to some 8000 people.

After the turn of the 20th century, Carson City continued to serve as a transportation center, when ore from the new boom towns of Tonopah and Goldfield passed by rail through town. Unfortunately, in 1905 Carson City was effectively bypassed by rail traffic when the Southern Pacific completed a new line from Hazen, providing a more direct link to the southern mines. Carson City soon entered a steady decline, with its population dropping to only 1800 by 1930.

In 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada, which brought increased tourism to the region. In the decades since, Carson City has gradually grown. In 1969, it was consolidated with Ormsby County, and today the city has a population of over 55,000. The historic core of the city offers dozens of historic buildings to tour and explore. Most notably, the West Side Historic District, located west of Carson Street and Downtown Carson City, includes over one hundred historic homes and buildings, many of which once belonged to prominent figures in Nevada's history.

I Visited Carson City
8.4.2007, 7.10.2009, & 4.29.2020