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CARSON CITY & THE NEVADA STATE MUSEUM & MINT

Interesting History

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Nevada's Capitol began as a trading post in 1851, and in 1861 Congress created the Nevada Territory and several months later it was named Carson City for the Explorer & Wilderness Guide, Kit Carson. Incidentally, we visited Kit Carson's home & burial place in Taos, NM during my travels earlier this summer. Nevada became a State in 1864 after President Lincoln learned of its rich mineral wealth. Lincoln needed the revenue to finance the Civil War.

The present Capitol building was completed in 1871. My tour of the building was self-guided but I found the people employed in the building to be very welcoming. Security was almost non-existent with but one friendly, 'Barney Fife' on duty. The exterior was built of granite quarried nearby by prisoners from the State Penitentiary. A silver dome on top represents the 'Silver State''. The interior is very plain due to the time of construction and finances of early Statehood. Alaskan marble was used for interior wall and floor coverings. A wide stencil border decorates the walls of the 4 corridors near the ceiling with all the metals mined in Nevada listed, and there more than 20. The staircase is crafted of California Walnut and is beautiful. I learned that the government's representatives meet every year for 2 1/2 months. There are 41 Senators and 82 Legislators. Every state differs a little. 86% of the State's land is either owned or controlled by the Federal government. The vast deserts and wastelands are used for Test & Training Ranges, National Security Sites.

My visit to the Nevada State Museum and former Carson City US Mint was very interesting. Naturally, the State Museum was devoted heavily to the mining history in the State. With the discovery of silver in 1859 miners rushed to Nevada. Many were 49'ers from the depleted gold mines in California. The Comstock Lode was the richest vein of silver ever discovered and thousands of prospectors flooded the Carson Basin (Valley). Within a short time the mining towns of Virginia City, Silver City, and Gold Hill were built. All the social challenges followed. The V&T Railroad, a short line, was constructed to service the Comstock mine, exclusively. During the peak year of mining activity (1876) the V&T made 35,000 trips and hauled 278,000 tons of ore from the mine to the mills along Carson River for processing. At the mills, and there were 68 in total, the ore was pulverized and processed by heat into dore' ingots. The ingots were then transported to the Carson City US Mint where they were melted down and the metals separated. Gold being the heaviest metal would sink to the bottom of the vat where it was collected and weighed to determine its value according to the market price. The same method was used for silver and the other metals.

The US Government decided to build a Mint in Carson City to handle the huge quantities of ore being mined there. Prior to that all ingots were transported to the US Mint in San Francisco, a distant and dangerous route. Train robberies were common during that wild west period. The Carson City US Mint was created in 1863 & operated from 1870-1893. It minted gold & silver coins, (valued at over $1Billion) now highly prized by collectors with the 'CC' marking on its coins. Very elaborate measures were employed at the Mint during its operating years to insure that every spec of gold or silver was collected. Employees, for example, were required to shower before leaving work with the shower water collected & inspected for traces of the ores. Their clothing & shoes were burned and particles were retrieved from the ashes. It also deterred someone slipping out the door with a coin in their pocket!

Today, Nevada is the #1 Gold producing State in the US, and #3 in the World. There are 14 counties in the State which mine Gold, Silver, Copper, and Barite with annual values in each county exceeding $1Billion.

Mining, Gaming, Tourism, & Agriculture (with irrigation) has propelled Nevada into the fastest growing State in the US.

My visit to Carson City was very educational and enjoyable. From Carson City I travel to Lee Vining, CA at the entrance to Yosemite National Park. More on that tomorrow.

Posted by dixter 19:17 Archived in USA Tagged city carson

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