Think you know Carson City?

Photo courtesy of Rich Moreno

Photo courtesy of Rich Moreno

As one of Nevada’s oldest communities, it’s no surprise that Carson City, which was founded in 1858, played an important role in a number of milestones in state history.

And with the 150th anniversary just around the corner—2014 is Nevada’s sesquicentennial—it seems appropriate to take a look at some of the key things associated with the capital city.

Additionally, having authored “A Short History of Carson City” about a year ago, plenty of information about the place is still rattling around in my brain, including:

Q. What is the oldest organized religious congregation in Nevada?

A. The First United Methodist Church in Carson City was started in 1858 and is generally considered to be the first organized religious congregation in the state. The Methodist Church on Musser Street was built in 1866 and is one of the state’s oldest churches.

Q. True or false. Carson City was named for western scout Kit Carson?

A. Sort of False. The community was named by Frank Proctor, one the town’s founders, after the Carson River, which flows through the area. The river, however, was named in 1844 by John C. Fremont in honor of his scout, Kit Carson.

Q. Where is Nevada’s only combined city-county government?

A. Carson City. In 1861, Ormsby County was created by the Nevada Territorial Legislature. It included Carson City as well as two smaller communities, Empire City, to the east, and Lakeview, to the north. In 1969, long after Empire City and Lakeview had ceased to exist as separate communities, the Nevada State Legislature approved the consolidation of Ormsby County and Carson City into the state’s only combined city-county government.

Q. What was Nevada’s first regularly published newspaper (Hint: it was also Carson City’s first newspaper)?

A. The Territorial Enterprise. The paper was originally published in Genoa in 1858. A year later, the paper moved to Carson City, becoming the community’s first newspaper. In 1859, it relocated yet again to Virginia City, where it gained its greatest fame with writers that included Mark Twain.

Q. What famous 19th century inventor/architect was raised in Carson City?

A. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., inventor of the Ferris Wheel, lived in a house (now called the Ferris House) at 311 West Third Street during his boyhood years. While not considered true, for years some folks have claimed that he was inspired to create his giant wheel after recalling from his boyhood the waterwheels on the Carson River that were used to crush ore from Virginia City.

Q. What unique status does Carson City’s Masonic Lodge hold?

A. Founded on February 23, 1862, Lodge #154 was the first Masonic Lodge established between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

Q. What boxing match, held in Carson City on March 17, 1897, was the first legal prize fight in the United States?

A. The Jim Corbett-Bob Fitzsimmons fight, held on a site at what today is the corner of Musser and Harbin streets, holds the distinction of being the first legal prize fight in the country as well as Nevada’s first world championship fight and the first championship fight to have been filmed.

Q. Where did the first Trans-Sierra airplane flight land?

A. Carson City. Three DeHavilands and a Curtis trainer landed in a field three miles east of Carson City (today, it would be in front of Carson High School) on March 22, 1919. 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 plane (and the first governor to fly in an airplane).

Q. Where did the first air flight in Nevada take place?

A. Once again, Carson City. 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 (near today’s Glen Eagle’s Restaurant) on June 23, 1910. It was the first air flight in the state and the first ever at such a high altitude (4,675 feet).


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