"Nevada" is a Spanish adjective that means "snow-covered". The name derives from the Sierra Nevada in the west of the state.
Nevada′s nickname is "The Silver State" and the state′s motto is "All for Our Country". The state song is "Home Means Nevada" by Bertha Rafetto. The phrase "Battle Born" is on the state flag; "The Battle Born State" is the official state slogan, as Nevada was admitted into the union during the American Civil War.
Brief History of Nevada
In 1850, the US Congress established the Utah territory which included the present day states of Utah, Idaho and Nevada. 1859 saw the discovery of the Comstock Lode, a rich outcropping of gold and silver, and Virginia City sprang up. This discovery brought a flood of miners, prospectors, merchants and others hoping to strike it rich.
On March 2, 1861, Nevada separated from the Utah territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range"). On October 31, 1864, just eight days prior to the presidential election, Nevada became the 36th state in the union. Statehood was rushed through despite Nevada′s tiny population to help ensure Abraham Lincoln′s reelection and post-Civil War Republican dominance in congress. As Nevada′s mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union, it was viewed as politically reliable (as opposed to the more agrarian and Confederate-sympathizing California).
Nevada achieved its current boundaries on May 5, 1866 when it absorbed the portion of Pah-Ute County in the Arizona Territory west of the Colorado River. The transfer was prompted by the discovery of gold in the area, and it was thought that Nevada would be better able to oversee the expected population boom. This area includes most of what is now Clark County, Nevada.
Negotiations are currently underway for Nevada to annex Wendover, Utah, which would be merged with West Wendover, Nevada. This deal will require the permission of both the Nevada and Utah legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
Despite Nevada being the third oldest western state, it is referred to as the "Permanent Colony" as over 87% of the land is owned by the Federal Government. The primary reason for this is that homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that prevail throughout Nevada. Instead, early settlers would homestead land surrounding a water source, and then graze livestock on the adjacent public land, which is useless for agriculture without access to water (this pattern of ranching still prevails). The deficiencies in the Homestead Act as applied to Nevada were probably due to a lack of understanding of the Nevada environment, although some firebrands (so-called "Sagebrush Rebels") maintain that it was due to pressure from mining interests to keep land out of the hands of common folk.
Gambling was common in the early Nevada mining towns, but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nation-wide anti-gaming crusade. Due to a sharp decline in mining output in the 1920s and the decline of the agricultural sector during the Great Depression, Nevada re-legalized gambling in 1931. At the time, the leading proponents of gambling expected that it would be a short term fix until the state′s economic base widened to include less cyclical industries, however re-outlawing gambling has never been seriously considered since.
A fictional history (with a great deal of fact) titled Nevada was written by Clint McCullough.
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