In recognition of Nevada’s sesquicentennial, the Sparks Museum & Cultural Center presents Sparks Celebrates Nevada featuring Sparks’ four significant industries: the railroad, mining, agriculture and gaming.
This year, 2014 Nevada is celebrating its sesquicentennial–150 years of statehood. Until the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, what is now Nevada was a large tract of land that people had to cross to get some place else. It was a remote corner of Mexico until the United States got much of the west in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. In 1850, Nevada became the western-most section of Utah Territory, far away from the Mormon capital at Salt Lake City.
Those who crossed Nevada’s basins and ranges in the early days were emigrants in covered wagons headed to gold fields in California and agricultural lands in Oregon. Only the indigenous native groups, a few scattered miners, and moon shopkeepers called Nevada home.
This changed in 1859, when gold and silver was found near Virginia City and a gold rush ensued. By 1861, the people who settled along the western edge of Utah Territory wanted to govern themselves and on March 2, 1861, the United States Congress established the Nevada Territory. Three years later, on October 31, 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the union.
While Nevada’s population was small, it was no longer merely an empty place to pass through. In the late 1860s, the Central Pacific Railroad chose the Truckee Meadows as its route from Califronia to Promontory Point, Utah, where it would meet the Union Pacific and complete the transcontinental railroad. This resulted in the establishment of Reno in 1868 and a service stop at Wadsworth to the east. Sparks was born in 1904, when the Southern Pacific Railroad, successor to the Central Pacific, moved the railroad shops from Wadworth.
Happy 150th Birthday Nevada!!