THIS PLEASANT CITY
in the shadow of the Sierra has been the Nevada capital since Nevada Territory was established in 1861, and government has provided the dominant influence on the municipal character for more than a century and a half. While it doesn't have the size or reputation of Reno or Las Vegas, Carson City welcomes visitors with its frontier architecture, historical attractions and its surprisingly wide range of hospitalities. Children are easy to entertain here by day, and Carson City is no longer just a one-martini town by night.
Carson City has long been an attractive little city, and now that the highway traffic has been routed around the city, the downtown belongs to the people again.
Until they began to decline in the 1880s, the Comstock mines provided Carson City with most of its economic importance as a freight and staging center, and as a marshalling point for much of the timber harvest in the Lake Tahoe basin.
Carson City joined in the long decline, benefitted from the Tonopah and Goldfield booms, and went in decline again when they failed too. By 1930 the population had dwindled to 1,800, about a quarter of what it had been at the peak of the mining boom 50 years earlier. "Life was peaceful and leisurely with time to enjoy friends and extended hospitality," a long-time resident recalled. "Money was no status symbol. No one was very rich, nor was anyone very poor. While life was quiet, it was never dull."
In 1933 the highway was paved through town, but for a long time afterward kids could roller skate on it without worrying too much about traffic. In those innocent days Carson City advertised itself as America's smallest state capital.
Museums, parks, a hot spring pool, hiking and biking trails and a thriving cultural calendar await visitors here.