Sitting in the center of one of the most scenic and historic areas in the country, Carson City is the perfect starting point for sightseeing. The habitat of the Eastern Sierra must have been a welcome refuge for explorers Kit Carson and John C. Fremont as they rode into Eagle Valley during their 1840s quest to map the West. To the east, long stretches of desert mark the difficult terrain settlers had to endure to get here. To the west, the Sierra Nevada Mountains stretch out as a gateway to the Pacific.

Northern Nevada saw its first wave of white settlers in the 1800s. The Bidwell-Bartleson party is believed to have made their way through the area in 1841. Westbound traffic increased, spurred by the big boom of 1848-1849 when the discovery of California gold ignited the frontier spirit and transformed Eagle Valley.

By 1851, Eagle Station, a trading post and small ranch on the Carson Branch of the California Emigrant Trail, served as a stopover for travel-weary gold prospectors. According to historical accounts, the station and surrounding valley took their names from an eagle shot by Frank Hall with his ball-and-cap Colt and mounted on the trading post wall. Frank’s, brothers W.L. Hall and George Jollenshee ran the ranch, located at the current site of Fifth and Thompson streets.

In 1858, Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station when he found properties in Genoa to be too expensive. Acre plaza was the city center for his predicted location of the state capitol as he laid plans for the city’s future.

In 1859, gold prospectors hit silver in the hills east of Carson City. The Comstock Lode, as it was called, was the largest silver find in world history. Tens of thousands of miners poured into Carson City and Virginia City. In the 1860’s, Carson City was a station on the Pony Express and the Overland mail routes under both Butterfield and Wells, Fargo and Co. In 1861, true to Curry’s prediction, and largely because of his shrewd maneuvers, Carson City became the capital of the Nevada Territory. Despite its small population and expansive territory (Nevada is the seventh largest state), statehood was inevitable. War was brewing in the east, and Nevada’s wealth, as well as its congressional votes, would prove vital to the Union war effort.

Nevada was granted statehood on Oct. 31, 1864. Each year Nevada’s “Battle Born” roots are celebrated in Carson City with the Nevada Day parade. Prosperity continued when the Big Bonanza, another major silver strike, was discovered in 1873. Construction of the V&T Railroad served the mines by transporting ore and timber. Learn more on Visit Carson City’s history playlist on Youtube.

Dive into Carson City's History