Liberal Arts Blog — Nevada (Part One) — Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, Hoover Dam

John Muresianu
6 min readFeb 18, 2024

Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Random Stuff Day

Today’s Topic: Nevada (Part One) — Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, Hoover Dam

Do you live in Nevada? Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Made money? Lost money? How much? Be honest. Is there any other reason to go to Nevada? Does Lake Tahoe count? How about Cathedral Gorge National Park? How about Burning Man, the world’s biggest electronic music festival? How about the Nellis Base “Aviation Nation” Air Show? How about the ghost town of Virginia City? How about the Hoover Dam?

Ever got divorced in Reno, the “divorce capital of the world” (for roughly sixty years)? What do you know about Nevada that the rest of us would be delighted to learn?

This is the 30th post in a zigzagging cross-country tour of the United States. So far we’ve been to Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, Asheville, North Carolina, St. Louis, Missouri, and Madison, Wisconsin. We’ve been to Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Texas. More recently we’ve been to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, and last week Utah.

Astoundingly, 86% of Nevada’s land is owned and managed by the federal government! Another amazing fact, the state’s name means “snowy” in Spanish, something of an extraordinary oxymoron given that the state is mostly desert, except for a tiny piece of the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. Nevada is called the “silver state” because of the Comstock load discovered in 1859, the greatest silver discovery in the United States which occurred a decade after the California Gold Rush of 1849 and resulted in the boomtown of Virginia City which peaked in population at 25,000 (now 787).

Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

A LITTLE GEOGRAPHY — the Humboldt River, Carson Sink, Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River

1. “Nevada’s geography is colorful — and contradictory. As one of the most mountainous States, Nevada shares the country’s second-deepest lake, Lake Tahoe, with neighboring California.”

2. “It is also the driest State and largely covered by desert. Northern Nevada has long, cold winters, whereas the south has long, hot summers.”

3. “In Nevada, the desert is not dull. An extraordinary variety of wildflowers bloom in the spring, and other plants include mesquite, cacti, creosote, and yucca such as Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia). Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is more than the State flower; it is a hardy, enduring shrub foundational to a vast ecosystem in the Great Basin that feeds and shelters hundreds of wildlife species.”

NB: Two rivers flow into the “Carson Sink” of northern Nevada — the Carson River with its headwaters in the Sierra Nevada in California and the Humboldt River which rises in Elko County in the northeast of the state. Lake Tahoe is on the border with California and Reno and Carson City (the capital) are nearby. Last Vegas, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the Colorado river are in the southeastern corner near both the Arizona and California borders. Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada is located less than a mile from the California border halfway between Las Vegas and Carson City.

A LITTLE HISTORY AND DEMOGRAPHY — annexed from Mexico in 1848, made a state in 1864, hence the nickname “Battle Born,” known for its “ libertarian laws” (gambling, divorce, prostitution). Las Vegas has earned the epithet of “Sin City.”

1. With a population of 6,857 in 1860 it grew to over 40,000 during the silver rush but was still only 42,335 in 1900 at which time the population of Las Vegas was 100.

2. Las Vegas grew to 10,000 by 1950 and 100,000 by 1970. Today the metropolitan population of Las Vegas is 2.2 million, over two thirds of the total population of the state.

3. Las Vegas (which means “the meadows”) is a magnet for 2.9 million tourists per year with more “AAA Five Diamond Hotels than any other city in the world.”

NB: Nevada’s ethnic breakdown: White 46%, Hispanic 29%, Black 9%, Asian 9%.

THE HOOVER DAM — straddles the Nevada-Arizona border — most visited dam in the world — 7 million tourists per year (twice as many as Las Vegas!)

1. “A concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.”

2. Constructed between 1931 and 1936 at the cost of over 100 lives.

3. “In bills passed by Congress during its construction it was referred to as the Hoover dam, after President Herbert Hoover, but was named the Boulder Dam by the Roosevelt administration. In 1947, the name Hoover Dam was restored by Congress.”

NB: “Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead and is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California.”

POST SCRIPT — the last two links are two past posts related to Nevada — one from the series of posts on the State Capitals, the other on the Colorado River.

Nevada — Wikipedia

Nevada and Landsat | U.S. Geological Survey

Geography of Nevada — Wikipedia

Las Vegas — Wikipedia

Hoover Dam — Wikipedia

Carson Sink — Wikipedia

Humboldt River — Wikipedia

Carson River — Wikipedia

Reno, Nevada — Wikipedia

Virginia City, Nevada — Wikipedia

Comstock Lode — Wikipedia

https://travelnevada.com/historical-interests/hoover-dam/

Liberal Arts Blog — State Capitals (VII) Carson City, Nevada — the Comstock Lode, The US Mint…

Thinking Citizen Blog — Rivers of the US (X): the Colorado

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My spin — then periodically review, re-rank, and exchange your list with those you love. I call this the “Orion Exchange” because seven is about as many as any human can digest at a time. Game?

LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, (11/17/20)

#3 Israel-Palestine Handout

NB: Palestine Orion (Decision) — let’s exchange Orions, let’s find Rumi’s field (“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. Meet me there” Rumi, 13 century Persian Sufi mystic)

YOUR TURN

Anything miscellaneous to share? Best trip you ever took in your life? Practical life tips? Random facts? Jokes?

Or, what is the best cartoon you have seen lately? or in the last 10 years? or the last 50?

Or what is your favorite holiday food? Main course? Dessert? Fondest food memories? Favorite foods to eat or prepare? This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.