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.