Humboldt County

Humboldt County Courthouse
Completed 1921

Technically, Humboldt County is the oldest county in Nevada. It was first established in 1856, as a part of the Utah Territory. It gets its name from the Humboldt River, which was in turn named by John C. Frémont after Alexander von Humboldt (a Prussian explorer and naturalist). When the Nevada Territory was created in 1861, Humboldt County was also re-established as one of the original nine counties in the Territory (also the largest). The first county seat was Unionville, which now lies in Pershing County. Following the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 and the decline in mining at Unionville, the county seat was moved to Winnemucca in 1873, where it remains today.

Over the years, Humboldt County has experienced varied development, especially in terms of mining and the railroad. Several mining camps developed before the turn of the century in the Humboldt Range, although they all lie inside Pershing County now. In 1903, the Western Pacific Railroad was completed across Humboldt County, roughly bisecting it.

In the mid-1910s, a rivalry existed between Winnemucca and Lovelock. Residents of Lovelock felt that the county resources were unfairly centered around Winnemucca. This escalated following a fire in 1918 which destroyed the Humboldt County Courthouse. Residents of Lovelock felt that the county seat should be moved, and in 1919 the case went to the State Legislature, who ultimately created Pershing County by cutting off the southern half of Humboldt County.

Today, most of Humboldt County's populous is centered around Interstate 80 and Highway 95, and much of it is agricultural. A few outlying communities also exist, including Denio, which serves as the gateway to the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge. Most of the Black Rock Desert also sits within Humboldt County's western boundaries, which serves as a stark contrast to the lush Paradise Valley in the east.