Nevada State Prison history

Should the Nevada State Prison in Carson City close, it would end a storied and historic past for the Carson City facility, which was the site of the nation's first execution by lethal gas. The prison has also been the site of legalized gambling, which took place for several decades.

"It's been Nevada's oldest ongoing business endeavor," said Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha. "This is Nevada's version of San Quentin," Rocha said, referencing California's maximum-security prison where that state's inmates are executed. "The system that you see (in the state) today, it all started with the Nevada State Penitentiary," said Rocha.

"If the executing of prisoners moves from Carson City, then this place will lose being a focal point during those executions," said Rocha, who has witnessed a single Nevada execution.

1862: Nevada State Prison is established when the Nevada Legislature purchased the Warm Springs Hotel and 20 acres of land. Abraham Curry, who owned the hotel, was appointed as warden.

1867: The original building burned down. Rock was quarried at this location to build a new facility as well as several other state buildings, including the Capitol building.

1872: Lieutenant governors used to be wardens of the prison, and that year the lieutenant governor refused to give up the prison to the new Lt. Gov. P.C. Hyman, causing the governor to send 60 men and artillery to force him to do so. He surrendered peacefully.

1901: The legislature ordered all executions be conducted at Nevada State Prison.

1905: The largest multiple execution in Nevada history occurred in November when four men were hanged at the prison.

1911: The legislature gave inmates the option of hanging or being shot to death, but the only man to take them up on the firing squad was Andriza Mircovich, who was killed by an automated rack of three rifles mounted on a frame in 1913.

1921: The state ordered lethal gas as the state's method of execution.

1924-1979: A total of 32 men died in Nevada's gas chamber. On Feb. 8, 1924, Gee Jon was the first person in the United States to be executed by lethal gas. Gee Jon and Hughie Sing were convicted for killing a man in Mina on Aug. 27, 1921.

1928: Nevada-issued license plates begin being manufactured at the prison.

1932: Legalized gambling started operation in the "NSP Bullpen" and lasted until 1967.

1944: Floyd Loveless becomes the youngest person ever executed at the state prison. He was 17 when he was executed on Sept. 29.

1964: The Northern Nevada Correctional Facility opens, giving Nevada a second prison in the state.

1983: The state adopted lethal injection as the method of execution. Since then, it has been used on 11 men.

1989: The prison stopped operating as a maximum-security facility when Ely State Prison opened that year. Although inmates sentenced to death are sent to Ely State Prison, executions are still conducted at the Nevada State Prison.

Sources: Nevada Department of Corrections; Nevada Appeal records


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