Say “Nevada” and the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is gambling. Granted, Nevada is known for its gambling throughout the state, but it also has a rich history steeped in the mining industry and the westward expansion of the United States. Nevada officially became a state on 31 October 1864 (and is the nation’s seventh largest), occupies 110,572 square miles, and is home to nearly 2.8 million people; the majority living in Las Vegas, Reno, and the state’s capital Carson City. However, Nevada is chock full of additional, oftentimes incredible facts many people don’t know.
1. The fossil shelter in Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park is home to the largest known Shonisaurus popularis ichthyosaur fossils.
These fossils hailed from now extinct marine reptiles that swam in the oceans which covered central Nevada during the Triassic period. These fossils range in size from two to over 50 feet.
2. The Comstock lode was discovered near Virginia City in June 1859. It is renowned for having produced over $36 million worth of silver ore annually between 1876 to 1878.
By 1882, the lode had produced over $300 million in silver and gold ore. Today, Nevada is the fourth-largest gold producer in the world behind China, Australia and South Africa. Today, Nevada supplies 75 percent of all gold mined in the United States.
3. Gambling was actually banned in Nevada in October 1910, just before Prohibition.
However, also like Prohibition, people found ways to break the law by setting up shop in more discreet places. Gambling was reinstated on 19 March 1931, ironically, during the Great Depression.
4. Known as the hub of conspiracy theories, the CIA only openly acknowledged Area 51's existence in 2013.
Interestingly, however, in 1974, astronauts on board Skylab inadvertently photographed the site. These images created a national security debate regarding whether or not to disclose its existence. In fact, Area 51 was the only place the CIA expressly banned from being photographed.
5. The federal government owns 84.9 percent of Nevada's total land.
Land management is divided among the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and National Park Service.
6. As incredulous as it may seem, Nevada is the most mountainous state in the entire United States with 314 mountain ranges.
The highest point in the state is Boundary Peak at a whopping 13,145 feet. In fact, the name Nevada is derived from the Spanish "covered in snow."
7. Despite Hoover Dam's historic construction, perhaps one of the most incredulous fact is that the Bureau of Reclamation supplied an incredible 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete to construct the dam itself plus an additional 1.11 million cubic yards for additional facilities.
This amount of concrete can construct a 3,000-mile, full-sized, two-lane highway spanning the entire United States.
8. Austin, Nevada, is home to one of the oldest churches in the state.
St. Augustine's was constructed in 1866; the Old Methodist Church was also built in 1866; and St. George's Episcopal Church was constructed in 1878. St. George's is still used today and of particular note is that the entrance to the bell tower is in a bathroom. Bell ringers must stand atop a toilet to ring the 900-pound bell fashioned with silver mined from the state.
9. U.S. Route 50 spans from West Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland. However, its course through northern Nevada was dubbed "The Loneliest Road in America" by Life Magazine in 1986.
Between Ely and Fernley, there are very few stops on this 287-mile stretch.
9. In a rush to push statehood, Nevada is credited with sending the world's longest telegram in 1864.
The Nevada State Constitution was transmitted from Carson City to Washington, D.C.
How many of these unusual facts were you aware of? Do you have any other interesting tidbits about Nevada? Please share them in the comments below.
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