As the driest state in the country, Nevada supports a rich environment, culture, and history that includes aliens, entertainment, mining and even blue jeans!
Located in a remote desert in southern Nevada is a place called Area 51. It was developed in 1955 to test secret military projects. Every year tourists go there, hoping to see aliens or UFOs because of rumors that it was used to study alien spacecraft. The state even named one of its roads the Extraterrestrial Highway because of all the reported UFO sightings.
Nevada is also…
- One of the world’s leading producers of gold, and the second largest producer of silver;
- Home to the majority of the country’s wild horse population;
- Home to more mountain ranges than any other state in the country.
It also became the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War (West Virginia was first), which is why it became known as the Battle Born State. In order to speed up its admission to the Union, Nevada’s entire state constitution – 175 handwritten pages! – was sent to Washington, DC by telegram. To this day, it’s still the longest message ever sent via Morse code.
Can you find Nevada on a US map? Here’s a hint: it’s bordered by Oregon and Idaho to the north, Utah and Arizona to the east, California to the west, and California and Arizona to the south.
What really happened
- Native Americans of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes originally inhabited the land we now call Nevada.
- The area was claimed by Spain in 1519. The state’s name comes from the Spanish word “nieve”, which translates to “snow-capped”. It refers to the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
- After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the land became part of Mexico.
- Most Europeans came to the area after 1800. In 1827, a fur trapper and explorer named Jedediah Smith passed through the Las Vegas Valley and mapped out much of the area for future travelers.
- Some of the area’s first permanent settlers were Mormons from Utah. But the California Gold Rush turned the small town of Las Vegas into a stopping point for thousands of travelers and miners who were on their way to California.
- At the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, Nevada became part of the United States. Two years later, it became part of the Utah Territory and then became its own territory in 1861. Three years later, it was admitted to the Union as the 36th state.
- In 1859, a large deposit of silver was discovered in the state called the Comstock Lode. This started a rush of miners to the area hoping to strike it rich. Many boomtowns sprang up in the area. Approximately $400 million in silver was mined from the Comstock Lode before it ran out in 1898.
- In 1869, Nevada was the first state to ratify (or say yes to) the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, which meant that anyone could vote, no matter what their race was.
- On July 7, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam Over the next five years, 21,000 men built the largest dam of its time and one of the largest manmade structures in the world. It’s made of 3.2 million cubic yards of concrete. That’s enough concrete to build a highway across the country. And our country is large! It’s almost 3,000 miles from San Francisco, California on the west coast to New York City on the east coast.
Stuff you should know
- The federal government owns nearly 85 percent of all land within Nevada.
- In 1871, a tailor named Jacob Davis of Reno made the first pair of jeans out of duck cloth, a type of canvas. He had realized that the pants he was making for miners weren’t tough enough to stand up to the conditions in local mines. A miner’s wife had also asked him to make pants that could withstand some abuse. Davis needed to protect his idea but lacked the money to file the necessary documents. So he contacted Levi Strauss, a German immigrant who had recently opened a branch of his family’s dry-goods store in San Francisco, and the two took out a patent on a pair of pants strengthened with rivets.
- Although the law was mostly ignored, gambling was banned in Nevada between 1869 and 1910. It was re-legalized in 1931 during the Great Depression. A decade later, casinos and resorts began being built on Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. More than 30 casinos and resorts are now part of the 4.2-mile Strip, which attracts more than 40 million visitors each year.
- Nevada is nicknamed the Silver State because of the major silver deposit (Comstock Lode) that attracted settlers and strengthened the economy.
- Nevada is the number one producer of gold in the United States. It’s second only to South Africa in the world.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird
- The oldest human skeletons ever found in the United States were discovered in the Hidden Cave in Nevada in 1949.
- People in this state consume over 60,000 pounds of shrimp every day, which is more than the whole rest of the country combined.
- The Las Vegas Strip has over 75,000 miles of neon lights on it.
- In Nevada’s Death Valley, the Kangaroo Rat can live its entire life without drinking a single drop of water.
Tell me more
- In 1933, Nevada produced the first hardhats. They were invented specifically for the Hoover Dam workers.
- There are about 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas, more than anywhere else in the world!
- Samuel Clemens, a famous writer, moved to the state in 1861 to try silver mining. He worked as a newspaper editor in Virginia City, where he first used his famous pen name “Mark Twain”.
- Carson City, Nevada is one of only two capital cities that borders another state. Can you guess what the other city is? Click here for the answer.
Do you know something interesting about Nevada that we haven’t included in our post? If so, email your information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages along with your first name, age and state where you live!