Carson City sits in the center of one of the most scenic and historic areas in the country, making it 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.
During that time, Northern Nevada saw its first wave of white settlers. 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, brother 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 lots in Genoa to be too expensive. Carson City’s future designation as a capital was largely the fruit of Curry’s labor. He left a 10-acre plaza in 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 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.
The History of Nevada – Dates and Events
1844 Explorer John C. Fremont travels through Western Nevada, including the future site of Carson City. He names the river flowing through the valley, the Carson River, after his scout, Kit Carson.
1851 Frank and Joseph Barnard, George Follensbee, Frank and W.L. Hall, and A.J. Rollins open a trading post at what today is the intersection of Thompson and Fifth streets. It is called “Eagle Station.”
1854 Admitted as part of Utah Territory.
1858 Abraham Curry, John J. Musser, Franklin Proctor, and Benjamin F. Green purchase 865 acres in Eagle Valley for $500 and a herd of horses. The four soon begin laying out a community, which Proctor names Carson City.
1861 Nevada Territory is created and Carson City is designated the territorial capital.
1864 Nevada gains statehood on October 31 and Carson City is selected as the state capital. Now a state holiday.
1871 The State Capitol building is completed.
1875 Carson City, Nevada is formally incorporated.
1897 World heavyweight championship fight between James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett and Australian Robert Fitzsimmons held in Carson City.
1909 The Governor’s Mansion, located on the corner of Mountain and Caroline Streets, was completed.
1910 The first air flight in Nevada took place in Carson City on June 23, 1910. A Curtis biplane climbed 50 feet and traveled a distance of about a half mile in a field about three miles north of Carson City.
1911 A several-mile stretch of Carson Street is surfaced making it Carson City’s first paved road.
1919 The first trans-Sierra airplane flight landed in Carson City, Nevada on March 22, 1919. Three DeHavilands and a Curtis trainer landed in a field three miles east of Carson City. The flyers, who started at Mather Field in Sacramento, were welcomed by Governor Emmet Boyle, who flew with them on their return flight—making him the first civilian to cross the Sierra by airplane.
1941 C.B. Austin became the first elected mayor of Carson City, Nevada.
1950 The last train of the original Virginia & Truckee Railroad completes its run from Reno to Minden.
1969 The Nevada State Legislature approved the consolidation of Ormsby County and Carson City into the state’s only combined city-county government.
1971 The 96,000 square-foot State Legislative Building was completed. It was expanded in 1997.
1986 Great Basin National Park, the only national park in the state, was created. It includes the area around Wheeler Peak and Lehman Caves in eastern Nevada.
First Settlement | A friendly debate exists between the towns of Dayton and Genoa, both near Carson City, and both settled in 1851. Dayton is the site of the first gold discovery in 1849.
Name | Adopted in 1861 when territory was established; from Spanish meaning “snow-capped.”
State Capital | Carson City, selected 1864.
State Flag | On a cobalt blue background; in the upper left quarter is a five-pointed silver star between two sprays of sagebrush crossed to form a half wreath; across the top of the wreath is a golden scroll with the words, in black letters, “Battle Born.” The name “Nevada” is beneath the star in gold letters. Design adopted March 26, 1929, revised in 1991.
State Seal | Adopted February 24, 1886. The seal has the words “The Great Seal of the State of Nevada” around the outer edge. Within this, is a composite picture showing the mining, agriculture, industry and scenery of Nevada, under which is the state motto, “All For Our Country.”
State Animal | The Desert Bighorn (or Nelson) Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) is smaller than its Rocky Mountain cousin but has a wider spread of horns. The bighorn is well-suited for Nevada’s mountainous desert country because it can survive for long periods without water. The large rams stand about 4-1/2 feet tall and can weigh as much as 175 pounds.
State Artifact | The Tule Duck was created by early Nevadans almost 2,000 years ago. Discovered by archeologists in 1924 during an excavation at Lovelock Cave, the 11 decoys are each formed of a bundle of bullrush (tule) stems, bound together and shaped to resemble a canvasback duck.
State Bird | The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) lives in the Nevada high country and destroys many harmful insects. It is a member of the thrush family and its song is a clear, short warble like the caroling of a robin. The male is azure blue with a white belly, while the female is brown with a bluish rump, tail, and wings.
State Colors | Silver and Blue
State Fish | The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Salmo clarki henshawi), a native trout found in 14 of the state’s 17 counties, is adapted to habitats ranging from high mountain creeks and alpine lakes to warm, intermittent lowland streams and alkaline lakes where no other trout can live.
State Flower | Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) grows abundantly in the deserts of the Western United States. A member of the wormwood family, sagebrush is a branching bush (1 to 12 feet high) and grows in regions where other kinds of vegetation cannot subsist. Known for its pleasant aroma, its gray-green twigs, and pale yellow flowers, sagebrush is an important winter food for sheep and cattle.
State Fossil | The Ichthyosaur (Shonisaurus) fossil was found in Berlin, east of Gabbs. Nevada is the only state to possess a complete skeleton (approximately 55 feet long) of this extinct marine reptile.
State Grass | Indian Ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), once a staple food source for Nevada Indians, now provides valuable feed for wildlife and range livestock. This tough native grass, which is found throughout the state, is known for its ability to reseed and establish itself on sites damaged by fire or over grazing.
State Metal | Silver
State Motto | “All For Our Country”
State Precious Gemstone | Among the many gemstones found in Nevada, the Virgin Valley Black Fire Opal is one of the most beautiful. The Virgin Valley in northern Nevada is the only place in North America where the Black Fire Opal is found in any significant quantity.
State Semi-precious Gemstone | Nevada Turquoise, sometimes called the “Jewel of the Desert,” is found in many parts of the state.
State Reptile | The Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), the largest reptile in the Southwestern United States, lives in the extreme southern parts of Nevada. Its hard, dome-shaped shell ranges from tan to black in color. This reptile spends much of its life in underground burrows to escape the harsh summer heat and winter cold. The desert tortoise can live to be more than 70 years old.
State Rock | Sandstone, in its more traditionally recognized form or as quartzite, is found throughout the state. In areas such as the Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon Recreational Lands, both near Las Vegas, it provides some of Nevada’s most spectacular scenery. The State Capitol, and the former United States Mint, are built of sandstone.
State Song | “Home Means Nevada,” by Mrs. Bertha Raffetto of Reno, adopted February 6, 1933.
“Home” means Nevada,
“Home” means the hills,
“Home” means the sage and the pines.
Out by the Truckee’s silvery rills.
Out where the sun always shines.
There is a land that l love the best, Fairer than all I can see.
Right in the heart of the golden west,
“Home” means Nevada to me.
State Trees | The Single-Leaf Piñon (Pinus monophylla) is an aromatic pine tree with short, stiff needles and gnarled branches. The tree grows in coarse, rocky soils and rock crevices. Though its normal height is about 15 feet, the single-leaf piñon can grow as high as 50 feet under ideal conditions.
The Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata) shares the state tree designation. The bristlecone pine is the oldest living thing on Earth, with some specimens in Nevada more than 4,000 years of age. The tree can be found at high elevations. Normal height for older trees is about 15 to 30 feet, although some have attained a height of 60 feet. Diameter growth continues throughout the long life of the tree, resulting in massive trunks with a few contorted limbs.
Did You Know?
• The combined city/county of Carson City is 146.9 square miles.
• The elevation of Carson City is 4,697 feet above sea level.
• Carson City is the only combined city-county government in Nevada.
• The population of Carson City is 56,146 (2004 estimate, State of Nevada Demographer)
• The tallest point in Carson City limits is Snow Peak in the Sierra Nevada range, which rises 9,274 feet.
• Carson City’s first newspaper was the Territorial Enterprise, which had been started in 1858 in Genoa, then moved to Carson City a year later. In 1860, it moved to Virginia City, where it gained its greatest fame.
• Carson City’s first telephone line was strung in 1888.
• Carson City has an average yearly rainfall of 11.8 inches.
• Carson City has an average of 266 days of sunshine each year.
• The highest recorded temperature in Carson City was 103 degrees, reached on August 8, 1972.
• The lowest recorded temperature in Carson City was minus 18 degrees, reached on December 11, 1972.
• Major William Ormsby opened Carson City’s first commercial store in 1858.
Movies Made in Carson City
Historians believe that the first film shot in Carson City was footage of the “Gentleman” Jim Corbett vs. Bob Fitzsimmons prizefight in March 1897. During the next century, more than a dozen other movies have been at least partially filmed in the Capital City, including the following:
- A Little Journey Through Nevada (1918)—Silent movie documentary includes a tour of historic sites in Carson City. The movie was made to promote Reno and Northern Nevada.
- Desperate Trails (1921)—Silent movie about an innocent convict who seeks revenge on those who sent him to jail starred Harry Carey. Exteriors of the Nevada State Prison appeared in the film.
- Pioneer Days of the West (1921)—Documentary about Northern Nevada included a historic tour of Virginia City and Carson City with a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.
- The Remarkable Andrew (1942)—Comedy about an accountant accused of embezzling who is aided by the ghost of Andrew Jackson starred William Holden. Filming took place in the Laxalt Building (Old Federal Building), the Rinckle House at 102 Curry St., and many other Carson City homes and businesses.
- Chicken Every Sunday (1949)—This comedy about a woman looking back on her 20 years of marriage to an inept but loveable husband starred Celeste Holm and Dan Dailey. The south entrance to the State Capitol was used in the film.
- Roar of the Iron Horse (1950)—Western about sabotage during the construction of a rail line through the west starred Jock Mahoney. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad’s routes in Carson City and Brunswick Canyon appeared in the movie.
- State Penitentiary (1950)—Drama about a businessman mistakingly accused of embezzling starred Warner Baxter. Filmed at the Nevada State Prison.
- Train to Tombstone (1950)—Western about a train robbery starred Don Barry and Robert Lowery. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad line in Carson City was used during filming.
- Deathwatch (1966)—Historical film about a 1930s French prison starred Leonard Nimoy. The Nevada State Prison doubled as the French prison.
- A Howling in the Woods (1971)—This made-for-television mystery about a woman haunted by strange noises was filmed in Genoa, Dayton, Glenbrook, and Carson City and starred Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.
- The Shootist (1976)—Classic western that was John Wayne’s last movie was filmed in Carson City’s historic district.
- Flesh and Blood (1979)—Film about an ex-con who becomes a professional boxer starred Tom Berenger. Exteriors of the Nevada State Prison were used in the movie.
- Honkytonk Man (1982)—This drama about an aging country singer dying of TB starred Clint Eastwood and his son, Kyle. The Brewery Arts Center was transformed into a nightclub for the film.
- An Innocent Man (1989)—This drama about an innocent man framed by corrupt cops who seeks revenue when he is paroled from prison starred Tom Selleck. The Nevada State Prison was used extensively in the filming.
- Pink Cadillac (1989)—This action/comedy about a good-hearted bounty hunter starred Clint Eastwood and Bernadette Peters. Fuji Park in Carson City was used for some of the filming.
- Misery (1990)—This horror film about an obsessed fan that kidnaps a famous writer starred James Caan and Kathy Bates. Portions of the picture were filmed on Old U.S. 50 (Clear Creek Road) in Carson City.
- Sworn to Vengeance (1993)—Drama about a policeman seeking vengeance for the murder of three teens starred Robert Conrad. Parts of the movie were filmed at the State Capitol and other sites in Carson City.
- Cobb (1994)—This biopic about Baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, who once lived at Lake Tahoe, starred Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Wuhl.
- Showgirls (1995)—Drama about an ambitious exotic dancer determined to succeed as a Las Vegas showgirl starred Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan. Several scenes were filmed in Carson City.
- Trail of Tears (1995)—Drama about two women seeking the return of their kidnapped children starred Katy Sagal and Pam Dawber. Much of the film was shot in Northern Nevada including Carson City.
Born in 1833 in Savoy, Massachusetts, Duane Bliss left home at the age of 13 to work as a cabin boy on a ship sailing to South America. Following a two-year journey, Bliss decided to join the rush of fortune seekers heading to California and booked passage on a ship to Panama, with plans to travel across the isthmus before catching a steamer to San Francisco.
Dunae L. Bliss
During the overland journey through Panama, Bliss contracted “Chargres Fever” and would have died if not for a friendly gambler and miner named “Diston,” who nursed him back to health. Diston helped Bliss reach California, then set him up with a team of mules and a small mining claim before departing for parts unknown. Bliss never saw his benefactor again.
In 1860, Bliss relocated to Gold Hill, Nevada to mine for silver. Within a short time, he had become a partner in a bank, which was eventually bought out by the larger Bank of California. In 1871, he invested in timber land at Lake Tahoe, and relocated his wife and five children to Carson City. Bliss soon became one of Nevada’s most successful businessmen as a result of his thriving lumber business, the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. Additionally, he built a small railroad, the Lake Tahoe Railroad, to carry lumber from Glenbrook to a flume station at Spooner Summit. In 1879, Bliss built a grand home on Mountain Street in Carson City.
He also erected a spacious summer home at Glenbrook and a mansion in San Francisco. In 1893, Bliss recognized that tourism was the future at Lake Tahoe and embarked on a new and equally successful enterprise. He formed the Lake Tahoe Transportation Company to build a rail line to carry tourists to Tahoe from the Southern Pacific line at Truckee, California. Additionally, he commissioned the construction of “The Tahoe,” a luxury steamboat to carry tourists across the lake, and built a first class resort at Glenbrook, the Tahoe Tavern. Bliss died in 1907.
Frontiersman Kit Carson’s stopover in Northern Nevada during his journey to map the west during the 1840s left an indelible mark on an area that bears his name in the town of Carson City, as well as the areas of Carson Valley and Carson Pass.
In 1826, he ran away from his Kentucky home at the age of 17, making his way to New Mexico territory where he gained notoriety as a hunter, trapper and guide. By 1842, his reputation earned him a spot on a mission to map California with then Lt. John C. Fremont of the Army Corps of Engineers. It was during that trip that Carson and Fremont happened upon unchartered portions of Northern Nevada, creating the maps – with references to “Carson Pass” – that would guide the settlers that followed. Ironically, Carson would not visit Carson City until after it had been settled.
In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, Carson joined the U.S. Army’s march on California. In 1854 he was appointed agent for the Ute and Apache tribes in Taos, New Mexico. Carson’s military life extended to the Civil War where, as a brevet brigadier general, he led volunteers from New Mexico in 1865. He died three years later.
Born in 1824 near Albany, New York, teacher Hannah Clapp arrived in Carson City in 1860 to set up a school.
Within a short time, she started a private co-educational school called the Sierra Seminary, which as the first legally chartered school in Nevada.
In 1875, Clapp was the successful bidder for the contract to erect an iron fence around the state capitol.
In 1877, Clapp and co-worker Eliza Babcock opened Nevada’s first kindergarten in Carson City. A decade later, Clapp was appointed professor of History and English at the new University of Nevada in Reno, becoming the first woman faculty member at the university.
In addition to teaching classes, Clapp also managed the women’s dormitories and the school library. Clapp was also a dedicated suffragist, working tirelessly for women’s voting rights for several decades. When she died in 1908, the Reno Evening Gazette wrote “it is doubtful if any single individual has had a wider influence in the forming days of Nevada than Miss Clapp.”
Often considered the father of Carson City, Curry was born in New York in 1815 and arrived in Carson City in 1858. With partners John J. Musser, Benjamin Green, and Frank Proctor, he purchased about 1,000 acres in Eagle Valley and laid out the community of Carson City, which he tirelessly promoted.
Additionally, Curry built the Warm Springs Hotel (at the site of the present Nevada State Prison) as well as the prison, the Carson City Mint building, and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad shops in Carson City.
He also donated ten acres in the center of town to the state to be used for a state capital, which helped ensure that Carson City would become the political heart of Nevada. Curry’s political accomplishments included stints as a Territorial Assemblyman from 1862-63, a Territorial Senator from 1863-64, warden of the state prison and superintendent of the Mint. Curry died in 1873 and was buried in the city he helped to create.
Dat so la lee
Born between 1825 and 1850 near Lake Tahoe, Dat so la lee gained considerable fame as a basket maker.
During much of her adult life, she worked as a housekeeper and cleaning woman. In 1895, however, her talent at weaving baskets was recognized by Amy Cohn, wife of prominent Carson City merchant Abe Cohn.
The Cohns’ aggressively marketed Dat so la lee’s baskets and even concocted colorful Indian stories and legends to describe the design of each. Soon, Dat so la lee’s work gained international acclaim and, during her lifetime, one of her baskets sold for five thousand dollars. But it was hard-earned money since she would sometimes spend as much as a year weaving a single basket.
Today, some of her baskets have been valued at more than a quarter of a million dollars. Experts recognize Dat so la lee, a member of the Washo Indian tribe, as having been an innovator in basket making because she introduced unique, non-traditional designs and materials in the making of her baskets. Dat so la lee died in 1925 and is buried at the Stewart Cemetery on Snyder Avenue. Her grave reads, “Myriads of stars shine over the graves of our ancestors.”
G.W. Gale Ferris Jr
The man who invented the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition in 1893 grew up in Carson City. Ferris arrived in Nevada in 1864 at the age of five. His father, George Ferris Sr., was a horticulturalist who was responsible for much of the landscaping in Carson City in the 1870s, including the grounds of the State Capitol.
The Ferris’ lived in the Carson Valley for two years, then moved to a house on the southeast corner of Third and Division streets in Carson City. In 1875, George Ferris Jr. left Nevada to attend the California Military Academy in Oakland. In 1880, he received a degree in civil engineering and was hired by an architectural firm in New York City.
After a few years, he was hired by a Pittsburgh firm and it was while working there that he designed the Ferris Wheel as an attraction for the World Exposition in 1893. The 250-foot wheel was an immediate hit at the fair and in less than a half year carried 1.4 million passengers. In 1904, the wheel was moved to St. Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Following the show, it was destroyed for scrap. However, the wheel outlived Ferris, who died in Pittsburgh in 1896 at the age of 37.
In about 1906, Dominique Laxalt, a Basque sheepherder from Soule, France, arrived in Nevada. While he had little education and didn’t speak English, Dominique soon became a successful sheep and cattle rancher in Nevada and California.
In 1921, he married Terese Alpetche, who, like Dominique, had been born in the Basque provinces of France and had immigrated to America.
In 1922, the livestock market crashed, causing Dominique to seek work on ranches throughout Nevada and Eastern California. In 1926, the Laxalts, who would eventually have six children, settled in Carson City, where they operated the French Hotel and owned the Original Ormsby House. Dominique soon returned to the sheep business, raising herds in the mountains above Carson City as well as in Dayton and at Marlette Lake.
Terese operated the hotel and raised the children, all of who went on to remarkable careers. Two, John and Peter, became successful Nevada attorneys while daughter Marie became a schoolteacher and daughter Suzanne became a nun with the Holy Family Order. Another son, Robert, was the founding director of the University of Nevada Press, an award winning author of 17 books, and first occupant of the Distinguished Nevada Author Chair at the University of Nevada, Reno. Paul served as Nevada Governor and as a U.S. Senator. Dominique Laxalt died in Carson City in 1971, Terese Laxalt died in 1978, and Robert Laxalt died in 2001.
Legendary stagecoach driver who was the subject of a chapter in Mark Twain’s book, “Roughing It.” Monk, who is buried in Carson City, was often called the “King of the Stage Drivers” by Twain. In “Roughing It,” Twain told how Monk, who frequently carried passengers between Nevada and California, had been engaged by famed New York editor Horace Greeley to take him from Carson City to Placerville, California for a lecture. Greeley allegedly told Monk he needed to reach the distant community as quickly as possible.
“Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace. The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the buttons all off of Horace’s coat, and finally shot his head clean through the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to go easier—said he warn’t in as much of a hurry as he was a while ago,” Twain wrote. “But Hank Monk said, ‘Keep your seat, Horace, and I’ll get you there on time!’—and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!” According to legend, Monk could make the 109-mile journey between Carson City and Placerville in less than 10 hours.
In the early 1860s, the four Olcovich brothers, Hyman, Joseph, Herman and Benjamin immigrated to Carson City from Prussia. Within three years, the brothers had started the Olcovich Brothers Store, a dry goods business, on the corner of Fourth and Carson streets. The Olcovich family soon became one of the most prominent Jewish families in Carson City.
Within a few years, the brothers were so successful that they owned several other businesses including the Sazarac Saloon, a drug store, a jewelry store, a Chinese wash house. By 1872, the brothers had built a family home at 110 West Fourth, where all four resided for a time. Within the next few years, the brothers built homes of their own. From June 1889 to July 1891, Isaac and Selig Olcovich, sons of Hyman Olcovich, published The Sun, a semiweekly newspaper.
Remarkably, Issac was 13 years old and Selig was 10 when they started the paper. In 1891, the two boys began printing The Weekly, which they operated until 1899 when it became part of the Carson Daily Appeal. When business declined in the 1890s, the Olcovich brothers sold their various enterprises and began to move away. Joseph relocated to San Francisco, Hyman settled in Denver, and Benjamin moved to Los Angeles. The Olcovich Brothers Store building later served as a candy factory, a saloon, a movie theater, and, in the 1930s, a mortuary.
From 1861 to 1864, writer Mark Twain (real name: Samuel Clemens) lived in Virginia City and Carson City, where his brother, Orion Clemens, resided. Orion Clemens served as the secretary to Territorial Governor William Nye.
Twain and his brother arrived in Carson City in August 1861. After brief but unsuccessful attempts at mining in Aurora and Unionville, Twain was hired by the Territorial Enterprisenewspaper in Virginia City. In fact, it was while working there that he adopted his nom de plume, Mark Twain.
Among his assignments for the paper was reporting on the Territorial Legislature in Carson City in November and December 1862 and November 1863 through February 1864. In May 1864, Twain, who had tired of Virginia City, wrote an article that incensed a rival newspaperman and was challenged to a duel. To avoid conflict, he departed for San Francisco, where he was hired by the Morning Call newspaper and later worked for several magazines.
In 1866, Twain returned to Carson City and Virginia City for a series of lectures. He made his final visit to Nevada in April 1868 for another lecture at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City. In 1872, Twain published “Roughing It,” a book about his Nevada experiences. He died in 1910.
Born in about 1844 near the Humboldt Sink, Sara Winnemucca was the granddaughter of Captain Truckee, a Paiute leader who served as a scout for John C. Fremont (and namesake of the Truckee River). Her father was Chief Winnemucca, after whom the town of Winnemucca was named.
Sara Winnemucca was unique among 19th century Native Americans in that she had attended school. For a time, she lived with a white family in Stockton, California, and was fluent in English, Spanish, and three Indian dialects. After returning to Nevada, she became involved in a dispute with a local Indian agent, who was cheating Indians. This was the start of a lifelong crusade to improve how Indians were treated.
In 1878, Winnemucca lived in Southern Oregon and was alerted to the local Bannock tribe’s plans to attack several settlements. Fearing her tribe would be drawn into the fight, she rode 233 miles to her father to urge him and other Paiutes not to get involved. While the Paiutes did not join in the Bannock war, the government sent many to a reservation in Yakima, Washington. After a visit, Winnemucca was so disturbed by the conditions that she embarked on a series of lectures to draw attention to her people’s plight.
In 1883, with the help of sympathetic friends, she published, “Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.” it is believed to be the first book ever written by a Native American. For the rest of her life, she continued to speak out about injustices against Native Americans. She died in 1891. A statue of Sara Winnemucca can be seen at the Rotunda in Washington, DC with its twin featured in the Nevada State Capital Building.