Uncovering Nevada'S Past
A Primary Source History Of The Silver State
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Nevada Press
List of Illustrations
The editors would like to acknowledge and thank all of the people who assisted us with this book. We cannot mention everyone, but the following were especially helpful and deserve special thanks here: Bill Rowley and Michael Green for their many helpful suggestions; Jeff Kintop and Mella Harmon for providing many important documents and several of the introductions to...
Nevada’s history lies beneath the surface. This is literally true, of course, in one sense. It is difficult to imagine a Nevada history without mining. Themes that continue to define Nevada—the tolerance for what others have long considered to be socially unacceptable behavior, the cozy relationship between business and government, the live-for-today attitude—are legacies of the mining...
PART I: Beginnings
1: The Physical Environment
Is Nevada’s geography a blessing or a curse? For twenty-ﬁrst-century Nevadans, it is a beneﬁt, without question. The sunny and temperate climate has attracted vacationers, retirees, and others for the last half century. The warm winters in Las Vegas are central to its status as a resort area, and the snowy Sierra Nevada in the winter attracts skiers from around the world. Beautiful Lake Tahoe provides year-round...
2: Contacts and Conflicts
The ﬁrst battle between Indians and whites in what is today Nevada took place in 1833, when Nevada was still part of Mexico. By the 1830s, several different fur companies competed ﬁercely with one another for a diminishing supply of beaver in the Paciﬁc Northwest. Hoping to discover fertile new lands for trapping, Captain Benjamin Bonneville in July 1833 dispatched a party of about forty trappers from an area north...
PART 2: Bonanzas and Borrascas
3: First Settlements, Territory, and Early Statehood
Leading his fellow Mormons to the Great Salt Lake in 1846–47, church leader Brigham Young sought independence for his people. One way to achieve this was by leaving the borders of the United States—which proved a failure when the United States won the Mexican-American War and the area west of the Rockies in the process. When faced with this situation, Young planned the “Mormon Corridor,” a series...
4: The Comstock
Gold fever was epidemic in the nineteenth-century West, inspiring masses of people to ﬂow like the tides. These “mining rushes” could suddenly swell the location of a strike, which was just as likely to dissipate with the realization that the boom was a bust. Those with experience recognized that the excitement of a mining “bonanza” was typically little more than a fraud. Such shrewd players usually relocated or...
5: Nineteenth-Century Social History
Wovoka, also known as Jack Wilson, was born about 1856 in the Mason Valley near modern-day Yerington in northern Nevada. He was the son of a Northern Paiute shaman. In 1889 Wovoka experienced a series of visions that instructed him to revive the Ghost Dance religion of the 1870s. He preached living in peace with whites, loving one another, and dancing the Ghost Dance, so that all who practiced the faith would...
PART 3: Rolling the Dice
6: Turn-of-the-Century Mining Booms
“Tonopah? Where’s Tonopah?” With these words, Marjorie Anne Brown began the story of her eighteen years in that mining boomtown. Her husband’s answer explained its signiﬁcance: “It’s a mining camp in southern Nevada,” he said. “They’ve discovered ore there—gold and silver. A boom’s on.” Like her fellow San Franciscans and the rest of America at that time, Brown had not heard of the dusty, treeless...
7: Twentieth-Century Social History
Washoes are native inhabitants of the Great Basin, their traditional territory stretching between the crest of the Sierra Nevada and the Pine Nut Mountains and from Honey Lake, in California, south to Antelope Valley (near Bridgeport, California). Until the early twentieth century they summered in the mountains and occupied ﬁve of the most abundant valleys along the eastern Sierra Nevada during the winter....
8: Depression and New Deal
Nevada did not feel the full effects of the Great Depression until 1931, when a devastating drought, coupled with a downturn in mineral production, began to cause hardships. Federal assistance was meager and slow to arrive. The Nevada legislature took matters into its own hands by passing a more lenient divorce law and the Wide-open Gambling Law...
9: Modern Nevada
A 1941 letter found in the Nevada Northern Collection at the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum supported the claims of hundreds of Japanese Americans for millions of dollars in reparation funds from the federal government. Fumie Shimada, a Sacramento schoolteacher who was born in Sparks, Nevada, remembered that her father, Kametaro Ishii, was fired from his job on the Southern Pacific Railway on February 11, 1942...