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Carson City in 1877
The Consolidated Municipality of Carson City is the capital of the State of Nevadamarker. The population was 52,457 at the 2000 census.


The first Europeans to arrive in what is known as Eagle Valley were John C. Fremont and his exploration party in January 1843. Fremont named the river flowing through the valley, Carson River, in honor of his famous mountain man scout, Christopher "Kit" Carson. Prior to Fremont's expedition, Washoe Indians inhabited the valley and surrounding areas.

By 1851 the Eagle Station ranch located along the Carson River served as a trading post and stopover for travelers on the California Trail's Carson Branch which ran through Eagle Valley. The trading post and valley received their named from a bald eagle, hunted and killed by one of the early settlers, featured on the wall of the post. In 1858 Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station and named the settlement there Carson City after the Carson River and indirectly after Kit Carson.

As Curry and several other partners had Eagle Valley surveyed for development. Curry had decided for himself that Carson City would someday serve as the capital city and left a plot open in the center of town for a future capitol building.

Following the discovery of gold and silver on the nearby Comstock Lode in 1859, Carson City's population began to rise. Curry built the crude Warm Springs Hotel a mile to the east of downtown. As he predicted Carson City was selected as the territorial capital, beating out Virginia Citymarker and American Flat. Curry loaned the Warm Springs Hotel to the territorial Legislature as a meeting hall. The Legislature named Carson City to be the seat of Ormsby County and selected the hotel as the territorial prison with Curry serving as its first warden. Today the property still serves as part of the state prison.

When Nevada became a state in 1864 during the Civil War, Carson City was confirmed as permanent capital. Carson City's development was no longer dependent on the mining industry and instead became a thriving commercial center. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad was built between Virginia City and Carson City. A wooden flume was also built from the Sierra Nevadas into Carson City. The current capitol building was constructed from 1870-71.

Carson City's population and transportation traffic plummeted when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line through Donner Passmarker, too far to the north to benefit Carson City. The city was slightly revitalized with the mining booms in Tonopahmarker and Goldfieldmarker. The U.S. Federal building (now renamed the Paul Laxalt Building) was completed in 1890. Carson City resigned itself to small city status advertising as "America's smallest capital." The city slowly grew, and by 1960 it had reached its 1880 population. Portions of Ormsby County had been given over to neighboring counties and by this time the county was not much larger than the city itself. In 1969 Ormsby County was officially dissolved and Carson City took over all municipal services with an independent city status. With this consolidation, Carson City absorbed former town sites such as Empire City, which had grown up in the 1860s as a milling center along the Carson River and current US 50. Carson City could now advertise itself as one of America's largest state capitals with its of city limits.

In 1991, the city adopted a downtown master plan, specifying that no building within 500 feet (152 m) of the capitol is allowed to pass it in height, which prohibits future high-rise development in the center of downtown. The Ormsby House is currently the tallest building in downtown Carson City, at a height of 117 feet. The structure was completed in 1972.

Former towns within city limits

Lakeview was established by the Virginia & Truckee Water Co. in 1870, taking its name from the views offered there of Washoe Lake. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad later made a station and post office there. The Lakeview post office continued in operation on and off until 1894. Lakeview is today a residential neighborhood along the west side of US 395 on the north border of the city limits.

Empire City started on the north bank of the Carson River as an overland station and tavern run by an early resident named Nicholas "Dutch Nick" Ambrose. Empire City thrived on the silver and logging industries and as early as 1860 streets and lots were surveyed. The town was nicknamed "Seaport" due to the large amount of logging traffic on the Carson River. The city grew to a peak of 700 inhabitants between 1865 and 1875 and featured hotels, grocery stores, real estate offices, saloons, stables and an elementary school. A number of mills ran throughout the Carson River Canyon just to the east as well as the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Empire City declined as the Comstock declined. The post office closed in 1910 and only one family remained by 1960. Today the neighborhood of New Empire is located near the intersection of US 50 and Fairview Drive west of the location of Empire City. Empire Cemetery still remains overlooking the Carson River at the site of the Morgan Mill.


The largest nearby city to Carson City is Renomarker, about to the north. Carson City is one of only two capital cities in the United States that borders another state (Californiamarker) (the other is Trenton, New Jerseymarker, bordering Pennsylvaniamarker). Carson City is the most remote state capital in the U.S. other than Juneau, Alaskamarker, as it is over 250 miles away from the state center of population.

Adjacent counties


Carson City is the smallest of the United States' 363 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

As of the census of 2000, there are 52,457 people, 20,171 households, and 13,252 families residing in the city. The population density is 366 people per square mile (141/km²). There are 21,283 housing units at an average density of 148/sq mi (57/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 85.30% White, 1.80% Black or African American, 2.40% Native American, 1.77% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 6.46% from other races, and 2.12% from two or more races.20% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 20,171 households, out of which 29.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.00% are married couples living together, 11.00% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.30% are non-families. 27.80% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.00% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 2.97.

The city's age distribution is: 23.40% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 14.90% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 106.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 108.20 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $41,809, and the median income for a family is $49,570. Males have a median income of $35,296 versus $27,418 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,943. 10.00% of the population and 6.90% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 13.70% of those under the age of 18 and 5.80% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Government and politics

Carson City is governed via the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote to a four year term. The city council is called the Board of Supervisors which is comprised of four members. Members are elected from single member wards.

Nevada's capital had been a Republican stronghold, often voting for Republicans by wide margins. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry 57-40%. In 2008 however Barack Obama became the first Democrat since 1964 to win Carson City, defeating John McCain 49% to 48%, a margin of under 1%.

In 1964 Carson City was the county seat of Ormsby County, which no longer exists. In 1969, all of Ormsby County merged with Carson City. So President Obama was the first Democrat in history to carry the geographically large modern city.


Carson City is situated in a high desert river valley approximately above sea level. There are four fairly distinct seasons, all of which are relatively mild compared to many parts of the country. Winters see typically light to moderate snowfall. Most precipitation occurs in winter and spring, with summer and fall being fairly dry, drier than neighboring California. Mid-summer highs typically top out in the 90s, however, temperatures of and above do occur on occasion. July high and low temperatures average and , respectively, while in January this drops to a high of and a low of .The Carson River flows from Douglas County through the southwestern edge of Carson City.


Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The Carson city schools operates eleven schools in Carson City.

Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, Empire Elementary School, Fremont Elementary School,Fritsch Elementary School, Seeliger Elementary School, Gleason Elementary,and Mark Twain Elementary School.

Carson Middle School and Eagle Valley Middle School are the district's two middle schools. Carson High School is the only district public high school serving Carson City. Carson High is on Saliman Road.In addition Silver State Charter High School is located in Carson City.

Private schools

Capital Christian School, Bethlehem Lutheran, Sierra Lutheran High School, Faith Christian Academy, Grace Christian Academy, and St. Teresa's are in Carson City.

Colleges and universities

Western Nevada College (WNC) is a regionally accredited, two year and four year institution which is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The college has an enrollment of approximately 6,000. It has a prison education program, which offers classes to degree-seeking inmates in five correctional institutions throughout northern Nevada. Courses are conducted daytime and evening in the classroom, by cablecast, and on the Internet. WNC offers associate of arts, associate of science, associate of applied science or associate of general studies degrees, one-year certificates, or certificates of completion in more than 50 career fields, including architecture, auto/diesel mechanics, criminal justice, dental hygiene, graphic design, nursing, and welding. Recently, the college has added a four-year program.


Carson City has never hosted any professional team sports. Carson City did host the famous heavy weight professional boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and "Gentleman" Jim Corbett over a hundred years ago. The status of team sports could change with the possible relocation of a Golden Baseball League franchise currently known as the Reno Silver Sox, who are being forced to relocate due to the arrival of the Pacific Coast League's Reno Aces. City officials and league officials are currently negotiating bringing the franchise to the city in time to play in either the 2009 or 2010 seasons.


Carson City is one of five state capitals not served by an interstate highway (Dover, Delawaremarker; Jefferson City, Missourimarker; Juneau, Alaskamarker, and Pierre, South Dakotamarker are the other four). This will soon change as the Carson City Freeway is currently under construction, which will eventually become part of Interstate 580 linking Carson City to Renomarker and Interstate 80.

The Regional Transportation System of Washoe County (RTC) provides public transportation service between Renomarker and Carson City, and on Oct. 3, 2005, Carson City's first modern bus system, Jump Around Carson, or JAC, opened to the public. JAC uses a smaller urban bus that is ideal for Carson City.

Carson City is also served by the Carson Airportmarker, which is a regional airport in the northern part of the city. Reno-Tahoe International Airportmarker, which is away, handles international and domestic commercial flights.

Major highways


The book A Basque Hotel, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, written by the Basque-American author Robert Laxalt, is set in Carson City in the early decades of the twentieth century. The author was the younger brother of Paul Laxalt, a former Nevada governor and US Senator for Nevada. Western Nevada, particularly the Carson City and Reno areas, is known for its significant Basque population.


Image:StCharlesHotel Carson City.jpg|
Historic St Charles Hotel in Carson City
Image:Laxalt Building, 2007.jpg|
Former Carson City Post Office
Image:Nevada Govenors Mansion.JPG|
The Governor's Mansion in Carson City
Image:Nevada Law Enforcment Monument.jpg|
Monument on the capitol grounds listing all Nevada Police Officers who died in the line of duty


Carson City offers a wide variety of city parks, museums and recreation opportunities. City parks offer opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, sports, nature walks, historic sites and train rides. The rave scene has been growing in Carson City as of recently and successful shows are booming within the area. Carson City also plays host to a number of historic buildings and houses. Several of the buildings and homes have been converted into museums while others have been preserved and are privately owned.

While there are no ski slopes within Carson City, the city is located close to Heavenly Mountain Resortmarker, Diamond Peak and Mount Rosemarker skiing areas. Much of the open space in Carson City is managed by the Bureau of Land Management . There are public access sites to BLM land at many locations throughout the city. The Carson Ranger District manages of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and is headquartered in Carson City.

The Carson Range runs through the far western part of the city limits and this area is known as the "Carson City Rural Area". Along the Tahoe Rim Trail in this part of the city is Snow Valley Peak, which rises above sea level making it the highest point in the city limits and offers views of Lake Tahoemarker.

The Virginia Range and Carson River run through the eastern part of the city, home to the Carson River Aquatic Trail. There are no paved roads in the far eastern part of the city making it a popular for off road vehicles, hiking and biking.

City parks

  • Sports
    • Mills Park - miniature railroad, farmers market, hockey rink, Aquatic Facility
    • Edmonds Sport Complex - soccer fields
    • Centennial Park - baseball diamonds, archery
    • Governor's Field - baseball diamonds
    • Pony Express Airpark - model airplane field
    • Carson River Park - boat launch, BLM trailheads
  • Biking/Hiking
    • Riverview Park - hiking trails along the Carson River, Korean War Veterans Memorial
    • Lakeview Park - hiking trails, views of Washoe Lakemarker, mill ruins
    • Mexican Ditch Trail - hiking/biking/equestrian trail following Mexican Ditch (irrigation)
    • V&T Multi-Use Trail - biking trail along old Virginia & Trail R.R.
  • Natural Areas
    • Ambrose-Carson Natural Area - nature trails with interpretive brochure created by Carson High School
    • Fulstone Wetlands


Open land

  • Silver Saddle Ranch - working ranch, public access to BLM land, hiking/biking/equestrian trails
    • Mexican Dam - stone dam across the Carson River south of Silver Saddle Ranch, built in 1860, accessible via hiking, biking or horseback
  • Prison Hill - BLM public access, California Trail historic markers, location of the Stewart "S"
  • Carson Aquatic Trail - boating and rafting
  • Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Carson Ranger District)
  • Tahoe Rim Trail - Spooner Summit trailhead just outside city limits along U.S. 50
  • Lake Tahoe – Nevada State Parkmarker - hiking, biking, fishing, backwoods camping
    • Chimney Beach
    • Secret Harbor
    • Skunk Harbor
  • Washoe Lake State Parkmarker - borders city to the north, sailing, swimming, hiking
  • Brunswick Canyon Road - biking/off roading through far eastern part of city
  • "C Hill" - hill featuring the Carson City "C" and giant American Flag, trailhead parking behind R.R. museum
  • Rifle Range - near Brunswick Canyon and the Ormsby Landfill


  1. National Park Service: Three Historic Cities
  2. Carson City Living History
  3. Carson City: History
  4. About Carson City
  5. Carson City High Rise Buildings
  6. GBL wants to keep Silver Sox in area; local investors sought for team (The Nevada Appeal, September 16, 2008)
  7. Carson City Freeway
  8. Jump Around Carson
  9. according to city limit signs along Highway 28

External links

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