Throughout the Silver State’s storied history, there have been many horrifying disasters that have caused millions of dollars in property damage, massive injuries, terrible heartbreak and the tragic loss of human life.
Sadly, our most deadly disasters are primarily man-made. Fatal fires, gruesome airplane accidents and savage car crashes account for the most horrifying disasters that ever happened in Nevada.
1869: Yellow Jacket mine fire in Gold Hill
VIDEO One of the most horrifying disasters in Nevada's mining history, Gold Hill’s Yellow Jacket fire filled the Yellow Jacket and neighboring Kentuck and Crown Point mines. Many of the miners were trapped for days with little hope for escape, and at least 35 miners died.
1875: Virginia City fire
A boardinghouse fire spread rapidly throughout the town, causing $12 million in damages. Nearly the entire business portion of the town in ashes including hotels, churches, county buildings, the newspaper, the telegraph and the express offices. More than 10,000 people were left homeless.
1879: Eureka fire
Two-thousand people were left homeless when a fire burned much of the town including hotels, the newspaper office, the telegraph office and many homes, doing about $1 million in damage.
1939: Train crash between Harney and Barth
The sabotaged City of San Francisco streamliner derailed in the Palisade Canyon about 30 miles southwest of Elko. Two dozen people were killed, and around 100 others were injured.
1942: Plane crash kills beloved screen actress
VIDEO A TWA airplane with 22 passengers, including screen actress Carole Lombard, crashed into a mountain killing all aboard. Lombard was said to have flipped a coin for a spot on the plane.
1946: Elko plane crash
Twenty-one people died when an airplane crashed on a mountain while attempting to land at the Elko airport. The only survivor was a two-year-old boy.
1958: Airplanes collide west of Las Vegas
A United States Air Force jet and a United Airlines jet collided mid-air, just west of Las Vegas, killing 49 people.
1964: Lake Tahoe airplane crash
Wikimedia / Jonathan Fox
Eighty-five people died when Paradise Airlines Flight 901A crashed into Genoa Peak about three miles from the Kingsbury Grade in Lake Tahoe.
1980: Thanksgiving Day Massacre in Reno
Priscilla Ford drove her Lincoln Continental onto a crowded sidewalk in Reno on Thanksgiving Day. Seven people died as a result. She was convicted in 1982 on six counts of murder and 23 counts of attempted murder, and was sentenced to death. She remained on death row until she died from complications from emphysema in 2005, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
1980: Deadly MGM Grand Las Vegas Fire
One of the most horrifying disasters on the Las Vegas Strip, 85 people died and 1,000 people fled when fumes from a fire spread throughout the former 26-story hotel.
1981: Las Vegas Hilton fire
Eight people died and 200 were injured when a fire started on the eight floor of the Las Vegas Hilton (Now the Westgate Las Vegas). Phillip Bruce Cline was sentenced to eight life sentences for arson.
1985: Plane crash in Reno
VIDEO A Galaxy Airlines flight carrying 71 people crashed in Reno just after takeoff. Only one person, George Lamson Jr., survived.
1988: Henderson PEPCON disaster
VIDEO A massive fire and explosions at Henderson’s Pacific Engineering and Production Company (PEPCON) rocket-fuel plant and adjoining marshmallow factory killed two people, injured more than 300 and caused an estimated $100 million in damage. The blast registered on earthquake monitors 200 miles away.
2007: Reno’s Mizpah Hotel Fire
Flickr / Reno Tahoe Territory
VIDEO Twelve people died at the Mizpah Hotel in downtown Reno after a mattress was set on fire in the hallway. Valerie Moore, who pled guilty to 12 counts of first degree murder and one count of arson, is serving 12 consecutive life sentences.
2011: Air show crash in Reno
VIDEO Eleven people died (including the pilot) and 69 were injured when The Galloping Ghost, a vintage WWII-era P-51 Mustang air racer, crashed into spectators during this horrifying disaster at the National Championship Air Races in Reno.
2015: Las Vegas Strip crash
Lakeisha Holloway mowed down pedestrians walking on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk between the Paris and Bally’s hotels, killing one and injuring 35. Her three-year-old child was in the backseat at the time of the crash.
Sources on Nevada’s horrifying disasters: Reno-Gazette Journal, Las Vegas Sun, Wikipedia and GenDisasters.com