Nevada Day is a time for our residents to reflect on the Silver State’s past and to become excited about the future.
With last year’s sesquicentennial behind us, though, our eyes should be focused on how Nevada will move ahead and become a leader in alternative energy, electric batteries for Tesla cars and data-related industries.
We are definitely at a crossroads of moving forward in blazing fashion.
We all know the story about the Silver State. In 1864, Congress admitted Nevada to the Union and for many years after admission, the state remained one of the smallest states in population until the desert bloomed with opportunity in the 1960s when Las Vegas and Clark County began to grow. Gradually, Reno began to experience similar growth in the early to mid-1970s, first with a booming warehouse industry and then later with the expansion of gaming in the Truckee Meadows. Likewise, Carson City, which was recognized as the smallest state capital, rapidly grew from a small city of 5,100 in 1960 to more than 55,000 in 2010 according to latest estimates.
Across the state communities began to see growth. In and near Elko, the gold mines yielded more minerals; Naval Air Station Fallon received other programs shifted by the Base Realignment and Closure committee; Minden/Gardnerville attracted new companies such as Starbucks; Carson City saw light industry come into the area; and big-city neighbors such as Sparks in Northern Nevada and Henderson and North Las Vegas in Clark County became their own prosperous communities that could stand on their own two feet without Big Brother.
A second revival is coming to the smaller areas as we look into the future. Fallon opened a new Dairy Farmers of America dry milk plant last year, and several businesses are looking at land along the railroad. A downtown food hub looks promising despite naysayers.
Nevada was also the fastest growing state in the nation because of opportunity. The population has more than doubled from 1.2 million residents in 1990 to 2.6 million. Although recent times have slowed the population growth, new residents are flocking to the larger cities, which also presents a problem for smaller cities and towns that still see stagnant growth.
Nevada’s history is rich with the lore of mining and gaming that shaped the destiny of this state. Every year since 1933 when the Legislature recognized Nevada Day, thousands will flock to Carson City to watch Saturday’s parade and take part in the many activities afforded to Nevadans and out-of-state visitors. Colorful floats, bands, mounted horse groups and, of course, politicians in an election year, add life to a Nevada Day parade which winds itself along Carson City’s main thoroughfare.
Nevada is a great state, inhabited by hearty people who love the western way of life and have an occasional eye on the past but two focused on the future.
LVN editorials appear on Wednesdays.