Nevada Coverage Area
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History of the Silver State
Nevada first belonged to the Native Americans of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe tribes. They called the area Nevada, which translates to “snowy” in Spanish, because the mountains were covered in snow throughout the winter. It became part of Mexico in 1812, and then became a territory after the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Nevada became the 36th state in the union in 1864.
Mining for gems and minerals such as gold, silver and copper helped shaped the state’s economy for many years following its transition to statehood. Nevada became home to the first silver mining district in the United States, eventually leading to its nickname of the “Silver State.” Today, Nevada is the nation’s second-largest producer of silver, coming in only behind Alaska.
Nevada’s Transportation System
Nevada is one of only a few states without a continuous interstate highway linking its major population centers. Instead, a combination of interstates and U.S. highways help freight and people move about the state. Other transportation options include air — McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the 26th busiest airport in the world — and rail.
Rail became an important transportation option after a Mormon battalion discovered gold and silver near the area of the state now known as Virginia City. The finding became known as the Comstock Lode — the first major discovery of silver ore in the United States. The need to move ore out of the mines led to an application for a railroad franchise from Carson City to Virginia City. The track was completed in 1870, and by 1872 it had been extended to intersect with the transcontinental railroad in Reno.
In 1890, Union Pacific began constructing the Salt Lake Route across Nevada to help connect Salt Lake City with Los Angeles. During the construction phase, railroad developers decided that the Las Vegas Valley would be a prime location for both a train facility and town. Once the rail was built, it brought people and goods to the mines, and helped shape the desert land to the resort town we now know.
Major Industries and Economic Drivers
The tourism industry is Nevada’s largest source of employment with resort areas like Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe attracting people from all over the world. State tourism statistics show a record 39.1 million people visited Las Vegas in 2017.
While tourism is the state’s main economic driver, the mining industry still plays a vital role in its economy. If going by value, gold is by far the most important mineral mined. Between 1835 and 2016, Nevada has produced 158 million gold ounces, making it the United States’ largest gold producer and the world’s fourth largest.
Other important industries include cattle ranching — a major economic driver in rural parts of the state — manufacturing, aerospace and logistics. These sectors, along with leading job growth numbers, have helped Nevada once again have a strong, thriving economy.