Nevada History by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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Nevada's Terrific Trivia

July , 2011
By John Evanoff

Nevada trivia buffs believe they know it all when it comes to their knowledge of insignificant facts, attractions, destinations, geography and individuals represented throughout Nevada’s history, but I may have a few they haven’t acquired in their repertoire.

When did Nevada officially recognize its birthday even though it became a state in 1864?
Answer: Nevada Day was officially recognized and signed into legislation by Governor Roswell Colcord in Carson City 27 years after the birth of the state in 1891. Mineral wealth was not the reason President Abraham Lincoln signed Nevada into the Union during the Civil War. Lincoln did it purely for political purposes to bring more votes to his campaign. Lincoln knew if he were to give Nevada statehood, it would possibly give him the votes to put him into office so he could go forward with his controversial policies rebuilding the south and putting the final nail into the Confederacy’s coffin. Although there were some small rural events held on Nevada Day for decades, it was not wholeheartedly celebrated until 1914 when Governor Tasker Oddie (Oddie Boulevard is named after him) at the semi-centennial, the 50th birthday of our state. Interest in the annual celebration dwindled considerably in the ensuing years until the State Legislature finally enacted a law giving Nevada its own holiday in 1933 and the party and parades began again in Reno. After almost dying from lack of interest again, Judge Clark Guild (the father of the Nevada State Museum), Thomas Wilson (a noted Reno marketing genius) and several men’s clubs and charitable organizations put together a noteworthy event in 1938 in Carson City. The event was so successful the town got behind it a second year with a three day celebration which brought almost 50,000 people to Carson City. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country and thousands of locals from around the state now flock to the full day event every year and it has become notable as the largest state birthday celebration in the United States. By the way, in the year 2000, the Nevada Legislature moved the holiday to the last Friday in the month of October with the big three hour parade following on Saturday.

How many Mountain Ranges are there in Nevada and what is the highest mountain?
There are 314 named mountain ranges in the state of Nevada making it the state with the most mountain ranges in the United States and as a geographic area, the most in North America. The highest mountain is Boundary Peak at 13,130 feet in Esmeralda County near the Nevada-California border and is half in and half out of Nevada with the highest part of the peak actually in Nevada. The hike is extremely strenuous and takes a day even though there is only a 4,500 foot elevation gain on the main trail. The highest mountain totally within Nevada is Wheeler Peak at 12,992 feet in White Pine County east of Ely. Wheeler Peak is surrounded in the Snake Range in White Pine County and the Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest by eleven of the highest peaks in Nevada, the Great Basin National Park, Lehman Cave and the Swamp Cedar Natural Area among many other wonders making it a hiker’s paradise and a high priority on any Nevada visitor’s must-do-and-see bucket list. Some of the oldest trees on earth known as the Ancient Bristlecone Pine (some over 4,000 years old) live on the northeast slopes of Wheeler Peak. One of the trees known as Prometheus was cut down for ring-age research in 1964 to the horror of thousands of activists and supporters who wanted to create more controls for the safety of Ancient Bristlecone Forests of America. Prometheus which was ring-age determined to be 4,862 years old died a martyr to the cause which led to the tightening of controls and protection of the ancients. The other eleven peaks (all over 11,000 feet in elevation) near Wheeler include: Jeff Davis Peak, North Schell Peak, Baker Peak, Pyramid Peak, Mount Moriah, South Schell Peak, Taft Peak, Mount Washington, Lincoln Peak, Bald Mountain and Granite Peak. Wheeler Peak also has a glacial field noted to be one of the southernmost glaciers in all of the United States.

How many counties were there in Nevada before statehood and how many are there now?
In 1861, the Nevada Territory had nine counties including Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lake, Lyon, Storey, Ormsby and Washoe. Lake County became Roop County in 1862 and consisted of Honey Lake and parts of Pyramid Lake northwest into Susanville. There arose a boundary dispute between California and Nevada in Roop County which led to it being divided with Susanville and Honey Lake being swallowed up by Lassen County in California and the rest going to Washoe County in Nevada. The total now is sixteen and one independent city (Carson City). Through attrition of certain borders to neighboring counties, Ormsby County had lost most of its land so that in 1969 its services were consolidated into the municipality of Carson City and thus the independent city. The additional counties added in a timeline from 1864 to 1919 include: Elko, Eureka, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye, Clark, Pershing and White Pine. Bullfrog County (surrounding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository) had the distinction of the shortest lived and least populated (zero) county in the United States during its less than twenty months of existence. The county was reincorporated into Nye County after the Nevada Supreme Court judged it a violation of the Nevada Constitution. The largest county in area is Nye and the smallest in area is Storey. The population of Esmeralda County is sparse for its area with less than 1,000 inhabitants over 3,589 square miles which made it the second lowest in density of any county in the contiguous United States. Washoe County shares its border with thirteen other counties in Nevada and California, the most of any county in the country and it also has the most listings on the National Register of Historical Places of any county in Nevada at 78 and growing. The Virginia Street Bridge in downtown Reno, built in 1905, is on the National register of Historical Places and also on the list of the Eleven Most Endangered Historical Places in Nevada.

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