Monday, June 13, 2011

US Capitol Cities: Carson City, Nevada

The Consolidated Municipality of Carson City is the capital of the state of Nevada. The population was 52,457 at the 2000 census.

The first European Americans to arrive in what is known as Eagle Valley were John C. Fremont and his exploration party in January 1843. Fremont named the river flowing through the valley Carson River in honor of Christopher "Kit" Carson, the mountain man and scout he had hired for his expedition. Prior to the Fremont expedition, only Washoe Indians inhabited the valley and surrounding areas. Settlers named the area Washoe in reference to the tribe.

By 1851 the Eagle Station ranch located along the Carson River served as a trading post and stopover for travelers on the California Trail's Carson Branch which ran through Eagle Valley. The valley and trading post received their name from a bald eagle that was hunted and killed by one of the early settlers and was featured on a wall inside the post.

As the area was part of the Utah Territory, it was governed from Salt Lake City, where the territorial government was headquartered. Early settlers bristled at the control exterted by Mormon-influenced officials and desired the creation of the Nevada territory. A vigilante group of influential settlers, headed by Abraham Curry, sought a site for a capital city for the envisioned territory.

In 1858, Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station and thereafter renamed the settlement Carson City. As Curry and several other partners had Eagle Valley surveyed for development. Curry had decided for himself that Carson City would someday serve as the capital city and left a 10-acre (40,000 m2) plot open in the center of town for a future capitol building.

Following the discovery of gold and silver in 1859 on the nearby Comstock Lode, Carson City's population began to rise. Curry built the Warm Springs Hotel a mile to the east of the center of town. As predicted, Carson City was selected as the territorial capital, besting Virginia City and American Flat. Curry loaned the Warm Springs Hotel to the territorial Legislature as a meeting hall. The Legislature named Carson City to be the seat of Ormsby County and selected the hotel as the territorial prison with Curry serving as its first warden. Today the property still serves as part of the state prison.

When Nevada became a state in 1864 during the Civil War, Carson City was confirmed as Nevada's permanent capital. Carson City's development was no longer dependent on the mining industry and instead became a thriving commercial center. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad was built between Virginia City and Carson City. A wooden flume was also built from the Sierra Nevadas into Carson City. The current capitol building was constructed from 1870–71. The United States Mint operated a branch mint in Carson City between the years 1870 and 1893, which struck gold and silver coins.

Carson City's population and transportation traffic decreased when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line through Donner Pass, too far to the north to benefit Carson City. The city was slightly revitalized with the mining booms in Tonopah and Goldfield. The US federal building (now renamed the Paul Laxalt Building) was completed in 1890 as was the Stewart Indian School. Carson City resigned itself to small city status, advertising itself as "America's smallest capital."

20th-century revitalization and growth

The city slowly grew; by 1960 it had reached its 1880, boom-time population. Portions of Ormsby County had been given over to neighboring counties and by this time the county was not much larger than the city itself. In 1969 Ormsby County was officially dissolved and Carson City took over all municipal services with an independent city status. With this consolidation, Carson City absorbed former town sites such as Empire City, which had grown up in the 1860s as a milling center along the Carson River and current US 50. Carson City could now advertise itself as one of America's largest state capitals with its 146 square miles (380 km2) of city limits.

In 1991, the city adopted a downtown master plan, specifying that no building within 500 feet (152 m) of the capitol would surpass it in height. This plan prohibited future high-rise development in the center of downtown.[6] The Ormsby House is currently the tallest building in downtown Carson City, at a height of 117 feet. The structure was completed in 1972.

Carson City is the smallest of the United States' 363 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

As of the 2010 census there are 55,274 people, 20,171 households, and 13,252 families residing in the city. The population density is 366 people per square mile (141/km²). There are 21,283 housing units at an average density of 148/sq mi (57/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 81.1% White, 1.9% Black or African American, 2.4% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 9.4% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. 21% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The following is a list of the top employers in Carson City:

State of Nevada
Department of Transportation
Department of Corrections
Department of Motor Vehicles
Department of Defense
Carson City School District
Carson-Tahoe Hospital
Carson City
Western Nevada Community College
Chromalloy Nevada
Casino Fandango
Legislative Counsel Bureau
Carson Nugget
Click Bond, Inc.
Gold Dust West

Government and politics
Carson City is governed via the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote to a four year term. The city council is called the Board of Supervisors and has four members. Members are elected from single member wards. Nevada's capital is generally considered a Republican stronghold, often voting for Republicans by wide margins. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry 57-40%. In 2008 however Barack Obama became the first Democrat since 1964 to win Carson City, defeating John McCain 49% to 48%, by 204 votes, a margin of under 1%.[

The Carson City School District operates ten schools in Carson City. The six elementary schools are Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, Empire Elementary School, Fremont Elementary School, Fritsch Elementary School, Mark Twain Elementary School, and Al Seeliger Elementary School. The two middle schools are Carson Middle School and Eagle Valley Middle School. Carson High School and the alternative Pioneer High School serve high school students. Carson High is on Saliman Road.

Western Nevada College (WNC) is a regionally accredited, two year and four year institution which is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. It has an education program. The school also offers associate of arts, associate of science.

Sports and Recreation
Carson City has never hosted any professional team sports. However, a variety of sports are offered a parks and recreation. Many neighborhood parks offers a wide variety of features, including picnic tables, beaches, restrooms, fishing, softball, basketball, pond, tennis, and volleyball. The largest park is the Mill park, which has a total of 51 acres (0.21 km2) of land. While there are no ski slopes within Carson City, the city is located close to Heavenly Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak and Mount Rose skiing areas.

Points of Interest

MuseumsNevada State Capitol – original capitol still housing the governor's offices with museum exhibits
Nevada State Museum – former state mint featuring rock, mining and prehistoric exhibits, and a recreated Wild West village
Nevada State Railroad Museum – featuring the Inyo locomotive and relocated Wabuska Railroad Station
Stewart Indian School – museum collection includes items from former faculty, students and school
Foreman-Roberts House Museum – Gothic Revival architecture, tours available.
Sears-Ferris House (not open to public) - home of George Ferris, inventor of the Ferris wheel

Open land
Silver Saddle Ranch
Mexican Dam – 1860's stone dam across the Carson River
Prison Hill – California Trail historic markers, location of the Stewart "S"
Carson Aquatic Trail
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Carson Ranger District)
Kings Canyon Falls
Snow Valley Peak – 9,214 ft (2,808 m) – highest point within Carson City
Tahoe Rim Trail
Lake Tahoe – Nevada State Park – three beaches lie within or near the city limits
Chimney Beach
Secret Harbor
Skunk Harbor
Washoe Lake State Park – borders city to the north
"C Hill" – hill featuring the Carson City "C" and giant American Flag

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