The state of Nevada’s history and mores has been shaped by the harsh but plentiful terrain and environment. Nevada became famous for its plentiful silver deposits that were discovered there in the late 1850’s, resulting in the rise of boom towns of fabulously rich people. Decline would follow whilst some sections of society hoped to transform a state that seemed as though it was built on out of control capitalism into an almost renaissance society built on learning and idealism. Economic depression followed in the early part of the twentieth century and this had the effect of reducing the state’s population. The years of economic decline halted in the early part of the 1930’s when the state embraced legalized gambling, and divorce laws that allowed for the quickest divorces in the entire United States. The state of Nevada was accepted as a territory of the United States in the late 1840’s and later on in1864 it officially became the 36th state of the Untied States of America.
The Historical Mining Towns of Nevada
Due to its rich mining heritage there are many historical sites in the state of Nevada for the visitor to discover, such as silver mines and even ghost towns. Nevada’s rich cultural heritage means that it is possible to step back in time as it were, to experience what life was like back in the silver rush days.
Built almost overnight in 1859, thanks to the discovery of silver, Virginia City is one of America’s biggest historical sites. Not only is Virginia City famous for its silver mining heritage, it was also the site where famous American author Samuel Clemens used his nom de plume, Mark Twain. Therefore, a lot of people now associate Virginia City as the birthplace of the famous author.
It was not just silver that helped Nevada to become the destination of choice for those people that were looking to make their fortunes. Gold, copper and lead were also in plentiful supply, and this is reflected in the names of some of the towns and cities that sprung up all across the state, such as the town of Goldfield. In fact, the town of Goldfield can claim to have been the home of Wyatt and Virgil Earp for a brief time during the gold rush in 1904.
The Comstock Lode
The first major deposit of silver ore in America was the discovery of the Comstock Lode, which was found beneath Mount Davidson on its eastern side. The discovery was not made public until 1859, and this then sparked the great silver rush that would last for decades. Silver prospectors travelled from all over the United States in order to stake their claim, and the discovery of silver in Nevada sparked much excitement in the neighboring state of California. The Comstock Lode was the most significant discovery since the discovery of gold in California just over a decade before. Many mining towns sprung up almost overnight.
Apart from creating immense wealth in the state of Nevada and parts of California, the mining of the silver also produced many advances in mining techniques and machinery. By the mid-1870’s silver mining had declined in the area and almost a quarter of the population eventually left the area, however, silver mining continued in one form or another until the late 1920’s.
The History of Gambling and Prostitution in Nevada
Silver miners work hard and they take their free time just as seriously, so it should come as no surprise that a number of laws were relaxed in order to keep the miners happy during this period. Gambling and prostitution laws were relaxed, and even though there were attempts to curb gambling and prostitution after the sliver rush ended, these attempts only had moderate success. When the Great Depression hit in 1929 gambling was once again made legal, and now places such as Las Vegas and Reno are seen as two of the world’s most popular destinations for gamblers from all corners of the globe. Reno is also famous for being the home of the “quickie” divorce, and it had some of the most relaxed divorce laws in America, with people travelling from across the United States in order to free themselves from their wedding vows.
Military and Nuclear Testing
Nevada became home to the testing of nuclear weapons in 1951, and in all there were almost 1,000 tests on nuclear devices between then and 1962. Nevada is also infamous as being the home to Area 51, a highly secretive and classified air base, which has been subject to much speculation.
From isolated towns to big towns and cities and Mecca’s of gaming and gambling, Nevada has many historical sites for the visitor to explore, and there is no shortage of historical markers to look out for when travelling across the state.