During the realignment of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1904, which would eventually nearby bypass Wadsworth, a temporary junction was created called 'New Junction,' to join the new, incomplete alignment to the original line. By the end of the year, a new siding called Fernley - a name of undetermined origin - was established on the new line, and soon the rails were pulled up from New Junction and it was forgotten.

Meanwhile, as a part of the Newlands Irrigation Project, construction was underway on the Truckee Canal, which was completed in 1905. With the new availability of water, settlers arrived and set up homesteads, and the new community of Fernley began to form. Slow to grow at first, by 1910 only 159 people lived in the town. From 1912-1914, Southern Pacific built the new Fernley & Lassen Railway to ship lumber from Westwood, California. Fernley was the southern terminus, and a handsome new depot was built to serve the town.

Main Street

In 1913, the Lincoln Highway (later US 50A) was established and routed along Fernley's Main Street, joined in 1922 by the Victory Highway (later US 40). With an additional state route running south toward Yerington (1B, later US 95A), little Fernley became an important crossroads and businesses were soon established to serve the weary traveler.

For several decades, Fernley remained a small agricultural settlement, reaching a population of only 654 by 1960. The following decade would begin a period of rapid growth that the town had never before experienced. In 1964, the Nevada Cement Company opened a plant capable of producing 175,000 tons of cement per year, a capacity which doubled in 1969. Subsequent completion of Interstate 80 to replace Highway 40 brought additional business and improved access for commuters to Reno, and by 1980 Fernley's population exceeded 5,000.

Over the last few decades, Fernley has continued to rapidly grow, seeing a transition from sleepy farm town to an industrial community. Large warehouses have been built, and while old Main Street is still reminiscent of the small town days, a significant business district has developed where Interstate 80 is joined by the highway to Fallon. On July 1, 2001, the City of Fernley was incorporated, making it the newest in the state, and today the population has grown to around 20,000.

Southern Pacific Railroad
← Gilpin • FernleyLuva