Nevada State Capital: Carson City
Born in the heat of the Civil War, Silver State denizens adopted the motto “Battle Born” to memorialize that fact. Long before the state’s 1864 entry into the Union however, the eventual 36th state enjoyed a frontier existence stretching back a decade earlier, and its eventual state capital, Carson City, was a part of that journey. What began as a mere notation on a famous expedition’s map, the area that would go on to serve at the capital of Nevada was at the forefront of western American history.
From Map Notation to Territorial Status
First noted on maps during John Fremont’s 1843-44 expedition, the area that would form the later territorial capital, Eagle Valley, first drew well-to-do pioneers into the area in 1858, who arrived with a plan to stay, and the blueprints for a city that would service the area in a territorial capacity east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
These early settlers were well connected lawyers with an eye to the future. They soon bought out the richest sections of the valley before surveying and plotting a town site. That town was already well established when the area went casting about for the site of a territorial capital in 1861.
A portentous year, 1861 marked the beginning of four years of Civil War, which would witness butchery in the east, and they eventual discovery of the Nevada Comstock Lode. Both of these factors would play their roles in the formation of Carson City as the capital city of the nation’s 34th state in 1864.
The Growth of Eagle Valley and Carson City
The early tranquility of Eagle Valley was shattered in January 1859 with the discovery of the Comstock Lode. As one might imagine, the valley’s founders were not upset by these developments. Carson City rose to prominence as a logistical hub feeding the nearby silver mines. Freight, transportation, and warehousing functions gravitated to the already established Carson City as the only urban center with infrastructure equal to the task.
From Territorial Seat of Government to State Capital
When it came time to designate a location for Nevada’s territorial capital, Carson City was the obvious choice, and when the area entered into statehood in 1864, the town was tapped to continue its governmental role. While today the population epicenter of Nevada is more than 500 miles to the south in Las Vegas, at the time of statehood the near entirety of the territory’s population lived within 50 miles of the capital. Even though the southern behemoth, which would become Las Vegas in 1905, greatly surpassed the northern portions of the state in terms of population, no effort has ever been considered about moving the state’s frontier era capital.