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Nevada

Carson City, the capital of Nevada

In 1864 Carson City was selected as capital of Nevada. Today Carson City has a population of approx. 54,000 and is also a gambling town with 7 major casinos.

The history of the American West comes vividly to life for each visitor to Carson City who tours the sidewalks of its historic district, joins in its array of special events or strolls through the exhibits in the capital city’s many museums. Once a destination for dreamers in search of silver and gold, today Carson City is a town with a story to share.

The Kit Carson Trail, a 2.5-mile self-guided walking tour, escorts sightseers through Carson City’s famous historical homes district, the largest in the West. A painted blue line with inlaid bronze medallions along the sidewalk marks the route past various landmarks, including Victorian-style homes over 100 years old, museums and original churches. The Governor’s Mansion and the home of Mark Twain’s brother, where the famous author spent much of time, are among the houses along the trail. The tour also provides insight and anecdotes about the capital city and some of its more colorful personalities.

Visitors can get a special glimpse of the trail during the Kit Carson Wild West Tour in May, where famous locals of yesteryear come out to share their stories. In October, the annual Ghost Walk takes the tour for an eerie turn as the ghosts of Carson City’s past appear to tell their secrets to tour-goers. And in December, the graceful turn-of-the century homes light up in yuletide cheer during the Victorian Homes Tour.

Additional events throughout the year recreate other aspects of Carson City’s illustrious history. In March, the annual Cowboy Jubilee & Poetry event features some of the country’s best cowboy artists in two shows filled with fiddling, singing, poetry and tall tales. The barbeque dinner between shows gives the audience a taste of the Old West.

The Carson City Rendezvous in June is one of the biggest events all summer. The days of Carson City’s youth are recreated with a mountain man encampment, a Native-American village with dancing and crafts, Civil War encampment and re-enactments, and a Hispanic village with dancing, gun fighters, crafts and continuous music on the main stage.

Several of Carson City’s museums welcome travelers through time. At the Nevada State Museum & Mint, visitors can journey back more than 40 million years in the Earth and Science Gallery, or visit the more recent past with a tour of a walk-through ghost town and underground mine. Originally a U.S. Mint from 1870 to 1895, the Museum now features an impressive coin collection and the silver service from the battleship USS Nevada, as well as changing exhibits. The original Carson City coin press is on display and is used to mind collector’s edition coins on special dates throughout the year.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum delights train and history lovers alike. One of the finest railroad museums in the country, it features restored equipment from the Virginia & Truckee (V&T) Railroad, the famous silver short line, and boasts five steam locomotives. Restoration of coaches and freight cars is an on-going process at the Museum and several restored examples are on display.

The Nevada State Capitol and the Nevada State Library and Archives present changing historic exhibits, and the Stewart Indian School Museum displays memorabilia and exhibits to enhance cultural understanding. The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada provides a “hands-on” environment, inviting visitors to touch, poke, pull and take part in displays.

Events in Carson City: Cowboy Jubilee & Poetry (March); Wild West Walking Tour (May); Taste of Downtown, Carson City Rendezvous (June); Silver Dollar Car Classic (July); Nevada State Museum Coin Show (August); Kit Carson Trail “Ghost Walk”, Nevada Day (October); Victorian Christmas Home Tour (December)

Attractions in Carson City are: Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 South Carson Street (U.S. Highway 395) at Fairview Drive; Carson City Fire Museum, 777 S Stewart Street; Nevada State Museum (Carson City Mint), 600 N. Carson St. (Hwy. 395) at the corner of Robinson Street; State Capitol, 101 North Carson Streeet; Governor’s Mansion; Brewery Arts Center sowie das Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, 813 N. Carson Street.

The Nevada State Capitol was designed by San Francisco architect Joseph Gosling for $250, and built by local building contractor Peter Cavanaugh between 1870 and 1871. It is a two-story masonry Classical Revival structure that incorporates Renaissance Revival and Italianate elements into its composition. It is a building of monumental character and harmonious proportions. To keep costs low, the sandstone was obtained free of charge from the Nevada State Prison quarry, just outside of Carson.
For more than 50 years, all three branches of the state government were housed in the Capitol. The Nevada Supreme Court met here until 1937, when it moved into an adjacent building and the state legislature met here until 1971, when it moved to its new Legislative Building just south of the Capitol. Every Nevada governor except the first has had his office in the capitol. Today, the Capitol continues to serve the Governor, and contains historical exhibits on the second floor.

The Nevada State Capitol is located at 101 North Carson St. in Carson City. The Capitol is open to the public for self-guided tours; hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week.

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Document Information
Source: National Park Service; Carson City CVB; photo: Nevada Commission on Tourism
Last modified: 20050620
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