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An Act of Congress, signed by President James Buchanan, which became effective on March 2, 1861, created the Territory of Nevada. President Abraham Lincoln appointed James W. Nye of New York as Nevada’s first Territorial Governor. On October 31, 1864, President Lincoln proclaimed Nevada’s admission to the Union as the 36th state. California and Oregon were the only western states admitted earlier. Nevada’s early statehood was the result of a number of factors pertaining to the politics of the Civil War and President Lincoln’s reelection campaign. During the next 75 years, many mining towns flourished, if only briefly, all over the state. Since 1931, tourism, particularly entertainment and legalized gaming, have become increasingly important to Nevada’s economy. Mining also has rebounded in recent years, and Nevada now produces more gold than any other state. Federal legislation enacted in 1986 created the Great Basin National Park, the first national park in the state, which includes the area around Wheeler Peak and Lehman Caves in eastern Nevada. A small part of Death Valley National Park is located along Nevada’s western boundary with California.
Sagebrush State, Silver State, Battle-Born State
The origin of the state’s name is Spanish, meaning “snow-capped.”
Population: 2.759 million
Rank: 35th largest state
Capital: Carson City, population – 55,274
Most populous city: Las Vegas – 596,424
Most populous county: Clark County – 2,000,759
Area: 110,622 sq mi
RANK: 7th largest (87 percent of Nevada’s land area is federally controlled.)
Highest elevation: Boundary Peak in Esmeralda County – 13,140 feet
Lowest elevation: On the Colorado River in Clark County – 470 fee
Silver and Blue
The Tule Duck was created by early Nevadans almost 2,000 years ago. Discovered by archeologists in 1924 during an excavation at Lovelock Cave, the 11 decoys are each formed of a bundle of bullrush (tule) stems, bound together and shaped to resemble a canvasback duck.
The Ichthyosaur (Shonisaurus) fossil was found in Berlin, east of Gabbs. Nevada is the only state to possess a complete skeleton (approximately 55 feet long) of this extinct marine reptile.
The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) lives in the Nevada high country and destroys many harmful insects. It is a member of the thrush family and its song is a clear, short warble like the caroling of a robin. The male is azure blue with a white belly, while the female is brown with a bluish rump, tail, and wings.
The Desert Bighorn (or Nelson) Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) is smaller than its Rocky Mountain cousin but has a wider spread of horns. The bighorn is well-suited for Nevada’s mountainous desert country because it can survive for long periods without water. The large rams stand about 4 1/2 feet tall and can weigh as much as 175 pounds.
The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Salmo clarki henshawi), a native trout found in 14 of the state’s 17 counties, is adapted to habitats ranging from high mountain creeks and alpine lakes to warm, intermittent lowland streams and alkaline lakes where no other trout can live.
The Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), the largest reptile in the Southwestern United States, lives in the extreme southern parts of Nevada. Its hard, dome-shaped shell ranges from tan to black in color. This reptile spends much of its life in underground burrows to escape the harsh summer heat and winter cold. The desert tortoise can live to be more than 70 years old.
Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) grows abundantly in the deserts of the Western United States. A member of the wormwood family, sagebrush is a branching bush (1 to 12 feet high) and grows in regions where other kinds of vegetation cannot subsist. Known for its pleasant aroma, its gray-green twigs, and pale yellow flowers, sagebrush is an important winter food for sheep and cattle.
The Single-Leaf Pinon (Pinus monophylla) is an aromatic pine tree with short, stiff needles and gnarled branches. The tree grows in coarse, rocky soils and rock crevices. Though its normal height is about 15 feet, the single-leaf pinon can grow as high as 50 feet under ideal conditions.
The Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata) shares the state tree designation. The bristlecone pine is the oldest living thing on Earth, with some specimens in Nevada more than 4,000 years of age. The tree can be found at high elevations. Normal height for older trees is about 15 to 30 feet, although some have attained a height of 60 feet. Diameter growth continues throughout the long life of the tree, resulting in massive trunks with a few contorted limbs.
Indian Ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), once a staple food source for Nevada Indians, now provides valuable feed for wildlife and range livestock. This tough native grass, which is found throughout the state, is known for its ability to reseed and establish itself on sites damaged by fire or over grazing.
Sandstone, in its more traditionally recognized form or as quartzite, is found throughout the state. In areas such as the Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon Recreational Lands, both near Las Vegas, it provides some of Nevada’s most spectacular scenery. The State Capitol, and the former United States Mint, are built of sandstone.
Among the many gemstones found in Nevada, the Virgin Valley Black Fire Opal is one of the most beautiful. The Virgin Valley in northern Nevada is the only place in North America where the Black Fire Opal is found in any significant quantity.
Nevada Turquoise, sometimes called the “Jewel of the Desert,” is found in many parts of the state.
The Orovada Series Soil was designated as Nevada’s official state soil in 2001. This soil is classified as coarse-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Durinodic Xeric Haplocambids, and is found in Northern and Central Nevada. Orovada soil grows most crops common to Nevada and is considered prime farmland because it contains volcanic ash that reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation.
In 1933, the Legislature adopted “Home Means Nevada” as the official state song. Mrs. Bertha Raffetto of Reno wrote the song to honor the state. The refrain of the song goes as follows: “Home” means Nevada, “Home” means the hills, “Home” means the sage and the pines. Out by the Truckee’s silvery rills. Out where the sun always shines. There is a land that l love the best, Fairer than all I can see. Right in the heart of the golden west “Home” means Nevada to me.
The tartan designed by Richard Zygmunt Pawlowski is designated as the official state tartan. The colors and design of the tartan represent the many features that make Nevada a unique and bountiful state. Blue represents one of the state colors of Nevada, the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe and the mountain bluebird. Silver represents the other state color,and the official state mineral. Red represents the Virgin Valley black fire opal, and the red rock formations of southern Nevada. Yellow represents sagebrush and symbolizes the great basin region of central Nevada. White represents the name of this state meaning snow-covered, which is the translation of the Spanish word “nevada”. The crossing of the yellow and red stripes represents the different colors of Nevada sandstone. The white intersection on the silver field stands for the snow-capped peaks of granite mountains, which make up the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The four blue lines represent the four main rivers of Nevada which are the Colorado River, Truckee River, Humboldt River and Walker River. The intersecting blue lines in the silver field represent the Colorado River as it meets Hoover Dam and creates Lake Mead. The small solid “boxes” of silver and blue number 8 by 8, or 64, to signify the year (1864) that Nevada was admitted into statehood. The 13 solid-colored intersections of the small stripes represent Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada, which stands at an elevation of 13,143 feet. Finally, the 16 solid silver intersections and the solid white intersection in the center of the tartan represent the 16 counties and the one consolidated city-county government of Nevada.
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