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Capital Named After a River

John C. Fremont an American explorer, politician and soldier, and this exploration party were the first to set foot in Eagle Valley in January 1843. The river flowing through the valley was named the Carson River in honor of his famous mountain man scout, Christopher “Kit” Carson. Before the explorers came the residents of the valley and surrounding area were the Washoe Indians.

In 1851 the Eagle Station Ranch became a trading post and stopover for travelers. The trading post and valley got their name from a bald eagle that had been killed and was featured on the wall of the post. When Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station in 1851 he named the settlement Carson City after the Carson River.

Gold and silver were discovered on the nearby Comstock Lode in 1859 and the population of Carson City began to rise. At that time Curry built the Warm Springs Hotel and Carson City was chosen as the territorial capital. The hotel was used as the territorial prison and Curry served as the first warden. Nevada became a state in 1864 during the Civil War and Carson City became the permanent capital. The city had some tough times when the Southern Pacific Railroad build a railway line through Donner Pass which was too far to the north to be of benefit to Carson City.

It revived when there was a mining boom. The U.S. Federal Building which is today known as the Paul Laxalt Building was completed in 1890. Carson City was advertised as “America’s Smallest Capital”. In 1991 the city adopted a downtown plan that no building within 500 feet of the capitol building is to pass it in height. Presently the tallest building in downtown Carson City is the Ormsby House Hotel and Casino, 117 ft. in height.

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