Abraham Curry was the type of man who truly planned ahead. When he arrived in Western Utah Territory in 1858, he tried to purchase some property in Genoa. He soon found the price was much too high, so he resolved to build a town of his own elsewhere.
A short time later, together with F.M. Proctor, B.F. Green and L.J Musser, Curry purchased the Eagle Valley Ranch about 20 miles north. The three men might have been totally unaware that the property was destined to become the site of Nevada Territory’s Capitol within three years.
On the eastern boundary of the ranch the purchase included a natural hot-spring area known as Warm Springs. This is the present site of the Nevada State penitentiary. On this spot, Curry constructed stone building known as Curry’s Warm Springs Hotel.
Meanwhile, Major William Ormsby had built a hostelry in nearby Carson City named the Ormsby House. These two men, along with many other far seeking individuals, were already planning that Carson City would become the headquarters of the Nevada Territory.
William Ormsby, prior to his death in the Pyramid Lake Indian war of 1860, was heard to remark that his Ormsby House would be a fine place to house the legislators when the territory was organized. Such was the case when Territorial Governor, James Nye, set up his headquarters there. When the first territorial legislature assembled, it became evident that there was insufficient room at the Ormsby House Hotel for the group’s legislative sessions. It was then that Abraham Curry’s planning showed real foresight. Abe Curry offered the vacant third floor of his Warm Springs Hotel to the legislators, Rent Free. His offer was seized upon immediately, but the major problem, transportation to and from the site remained to be solved.
Undaunted by this apparent minor difficulty, Abe Curry made the additional offer of free transportation for the legislators from Carson City to Warm Springs, a distance of about two miles. In order to make good on his offer, Curry immediately set about building Nevada’s first streetcar system. The sandy roadway between Carson City and Warm Springs was graded and reinforced to support the track for the railway. When this was completed, Curry placed his rolling stock in service. It consisted of a flatcar and a windowless passenger car with benches for seats. The route followed up what is now East Fifth Street in Carson City.
When the session started, the legislators were hauled each morning from the Ormsby House in Carson City to Curry’s Warm Springs Hotel. Each evening, when the session recessed, the legislators were transported over the rough railway. Motive power for the first streetcar consisted of a pair of ragged-looking mules.
Although the Eagle Valley Railway appeared to be born of benevolence, it was still able to make a profit for Curry. The legislators rode on free passes, but Curry had added a flatcar for freight purposes. Sandstone blocks from his Warm Springs quarry soon became in demand for building in Carson City. It was seldom that a horsecar started the trip to the capital without a payload of the valuable building material.
It was Abraham Curry who convinced Congress years later to establish a branch of the Mint in Carson City to coin the silver and gold from the Comstock mines. It was sandstone blocks quarried from Curry’s Warm Springs source that were used to construct the mint building, the state Capitol, the state penitentiary and many other substantial buildings still standing in Carson City and Virginia City.
I was prompted to write this article by my previous job as an inspector on the Carson City Freeway Bypass, which passes over the route of the Eagle Valley Railway at the Fifth Street overpass structure and alongside the site of Curry’s Warm Springs Hotel, where the Nevada Territorial Legislature met. It seems that wherever I happen to be working, I am surrounded by Nevada and Comstock history. One just has to know where to look.
This edited article is from Chronicles of the Comstock by Dennis Cassinelli, available from Amazon as an e-book.