It happens every year at this time, or at least it has for a long while. Nevada Day. And it’s a legal holiday in the state.
It marks the admission of the Nevada territory into the Union as the 36th state despite the fact that the population of the territory lacked the required 60,000 to grant statehood.
The proclamation was signed by President Lincoln Oct. 31, 1864. There had been no known slavery issues in the area at the time.
It came at a critical time in the Civil War which was raging back east. Lincoln urgently wanted the Nevada Territory to become a state to assure the wealth from the Nevada Comstock Mines would remain in the hands of the Union, and not in the hands of the Confederacy.
This then is the reason for the state’s motto, “Battle Born.”
On Sept. 2, 1864, General Sherman had captured Atlanta, Lincoln was reelected President on Nov. 8, Sherman burns Atlanta on Nov. 15 and begins his famous March to the Sea.
Historians note the first observance of Nevada Day (first known as Admission Day) was by the Pacific Coast Pioneer society during the 1870s. In 1933, after the Roosevelt administration had come in, the Nevada Legislature established a state holiday to be observed on Oct. 31, no matter what day of the week that was.
However, since 2000, it is observed on the last Friday in October. All state, county and city government offices are closed as are most schools and libraries, even some banks and private business of their own choosing.
Nevada is said to be the state that holds the largest statehood celebration in the nation. Occurring at the state capital in Carson City, there is usually a popular parade, music and art shows, a carnival, and a pancake breakfast at the governor’s mansion, to which all are invited.
Also taking place is the Nevada Day Classic Run/Walk, World Championship Rock Drilling Contest, Beard Contest, Annual Chili Feed and numerous free local concerts. Food and drink vendors line the streets of Carson City and local businesses and restaurants may also offer specials on food and beverages.
Theme for the celebration this year is Nevada’s Counties.
All counties have been asked to make something in the parade.
Historian Dennis Cassenelli tells that although Nevada has but only 17 counties, there was once an effort to create the county of Bullfrog in 1987. It consisted of 144 square miles with no people and no buildings.
It failed, being deemed unconstitutional by a county judge.
Also, Cassenelli writes that Ormsby County in western Nevada was once the state capital from 1864 to 1969. Named for Major William Ormsby who killed in the Pyramid Lake Indian War in the spring of 1860.
Ormsby was one of the original settlers of Carson City, and died along with seventy-five other white men in 1860, in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue a perceived uprising of Paiute Indians near Pyramid Lake, Nevada, which was at the time part of Utah Territory.
On April 1, 1969, Ormsby County and Carson City officially merged to become the Consolidated Municipality of Carson City.
Carson City, as most everyone knows, was named for the famed scout and guide in service to Col. John C. Fremont on his western explorations in the 1840s.