Carson celebrates 125 years-sort of

Carson City celebrates its 125th birthday Wednesday - sort of.

As a town, Carson City was founded in 1858. But on March 1, 1875, Carson City incorporated, making it a real city. That date makes the state capital the oldest continuously incorporated city in Nevada.

Before March 1, 1875, decisions regarding Carson City were made by Ormsby County officials. Incorporation brought "home rule" to the growing city, state archivist Guy Rocha said.

"Clearly, Carson had grown to a size where (leaders) wanted control," Rocha said. "They were approaching the height of Carson's size in the 19th century. They got to that point and said, 'We'd like to run our own affairs.'"

To celebrate the event, a birthday party marking Carson's 125-year achievement will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Carson City Hall, 201 N. Carson St. The party is free and the public is invited.

Visitors can enjoy cake, an historical "visit" from one of Carson City's founders, Abe Curry, an exhibit of historical Carson City photos from the Nevada State Museum and a gathering of past elected officials.

Curry is credited with setting aside 10 acres of land for what is now the state Capitol grounds. He also built the Warm Spring Hotel, site of the first Nevada Territorial Legislature, served as state prison warden and supervisor of the U.S. Mint.

Other cities beat Carson City to incorporation, but none has lasted, Rocha said.

Virginia City was the state's first city, incorporated while still a part of the Utah Territory. Population fell from the Comstock's glory days, and by 1881 it disincorporated.

Smaller cities such as Gold Hill, Silver City and Austin were all incorporated cities, but met the same fate as Virginia City. Reno was incorporated in 1903, making it the state's second continuously incorporated city.

"Through the boom and bust times, Carson City was able to sustain a city government," Rocha said. "It still remained a city, even when there were only 2,000 people. Somehow, Carson City sustained itself for 125 years."

Carson's first city council was a board of trustees, led by H.F. Rice as president with trustees Jacob Kleine, A.B. Driesback, D.A. Bender and William Corbett.

The trustees got down to business deciding what laws should be placed within the new city limits. They passed their first city ordinance, one regulating business licenses, March 22, 1875. The term mayor was not affixed to a board president until 1916 with Mayor Alex MacDonald

In 1969 Carson City and Ormsby County combined the government of the state's smallest county with its state capitol, making the state's only consolidated municipality.

Mayor Ray Masayko hedged on calling March 1 Carson's birthday but said residents should observe the "significant actions taken 125 years ago."

"This is quite an honor," Masayko said. "Cities have come and gone, and Carson could have chosen to disincorporate. This is a statement of the residents' satisfaction and the city's longevity."

For information on Carson's birthday party call the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-NEVADA-1 or head to the Web at

If you go:

What: Birthday party for Carson City

When: Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Where: City Hall, 201 N. Carson St.


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