Click on the county name below to see the county facts:
How The Counties Got Their Names....
Nevada Historical Preservation Office
Carson City was named after western Explorer Christopher "Kit" Carson. When Congress created the Nevada Territory in 1861, government found its home in Carson City. The legislature created Ormsby County with Carson City as its county seat later that year. After a century, it became apparent that the county and city governments were redundant, and the legislature made Carson City an independent municipality.
The construction of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad and the subsequent birth of Las Vegas, was due largely to the energy and determination of the Montana copper king, Senator William Clark. With the completion of the railroad and the first steady growth of Las Vegas, Clark County was created out of Lincoln County July 1, 1909. Las Vegas has remained the county seat since then and is the most populated county in Nevada. It far exceeds the total number of residents in the rest of the state.
Churchill County, created in 1861, takes its name from Brigadier General Sylvester Churchill. For most of its existence, the county was one of the least populated in the state. The local economy consisted of some ranching and limited mining. Several small communities competed for the role of county seat, but eventually Stillwater emerged as the leader. Although it once had a courthouse and a thriving commercial district, little remains to suggest that it even existed.
This county was named after the fiery Senator Stephen Douglas, who opposed Lincoln in the 1860 election for President.
Douglas County is the site of some of Nevada's earliest development. Many small communities are scattered along the base of the Sierra Nevada, remnants of some of the first towns in the state. Many were established in the 1850s as trading posts and centers of ranching and farming. Genoa, originally Mormon Station, is the oldest of these and was settled in 1851.
No accurate account of the naming of Elko County has come down through the years and the origin of the name remains a mater of speculation. It is rumored that Charles Crocker, of the Central Pacific Railroad, named it Elko because of his passion of wild animals - merely adding an "o" to "elk". Another story has it that a party of Indians watched the surveyors laying out the townsite and when told what they were doing the Indians exclaimed "Elko!" a word of extreme disgust. Whatever the tale, Elko County was created March 5, 1869, with Elko as the county seat.
A Spanish word meaning emerald, Esmeralda was the name first given to the mining district surrounding the town of Aurora. Named by J. M. Corey, one of the founders of the district, August 1860, Esmeralda became a county on November 25, 1861 with Aurora as the first county seat.
Coming from the Greek word heureka, meaning "I have found (it)," this name was first given to the Eureka Mining District organized in 1864. With the opening of the rich lead-silver mines of the area the name spread to the town of Eureka, which became the county seat when Eureka County was organized March 20, 1873.
Long before this area was even a part of Utah Territory, the Humboldt River was known as Mary's River. It was John C. Fremont, during his explorations of the 1840's, who named it Humboldt River in honor of the famous German scientist and traveler, Baron von Humboldt. When the county was created on November 25, 1861, it was naturally named after the river. Winnemucca is now the county seat and is home to one of the finest courthouses in the state.
Lander County is named after General Fredrick W. Lander who was a prominent road builder for the Department of the Interior. He played an important role in negotiating a peace settlement with the American Indians during the Pyramid Lake War of 1860. Situated in the center of the state, the Lander County region attracted prospectors fanning out across the Great Basin after the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode. Battle Mountain is the county seat.
Lincoln County was organized in 1866 shortly after the assassination of the president for whom it was named. Development started with the establishment of the Pahranagat Mining District during the mid-1860s, but the District did not meet expectations. Pioche replaced it in prominence, soon becoming one of the leading mineral producers of the West. Lincoln County had several county seats, but the small communities invariably failed to live up to the role. With the rise of Pioche, Lincoln County found a seat of government in 1870 worthy of the task.
Lyon County was organized on November 25, 1861 with its first seat of government in Dayton. It is theorized that Lyon County was named in memory of Captain Robert Lyon, one of the volunteers in the Pyramid Lake War of 1860 and one of the pioneer citizens of Nevada, but it is also possible that it was named after General Nathaniel Lyon who died in the Civil War battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861.
Created from Esmeralda County on February 10, 1911, Mineral County was named for the rich mineral deposits it contained. Within its bounds were such famous mining towns as Aurora, Belleville, Candelaria and Rawhide. Hawthorne remains the county seat.
This county was named after James Warren Nye, who was appointed Governor of the Territory of Nevada in 1861. He successfully set up a territorial government and when Nevada became a state in 1864, Nye was elected U.S. Senator from Nevada, serving until 1873. Nye County, created February 16, 1864, had Ione City as its first county seat.
Pershing County is the youngest Nevada County, dating to 1919. It is named after General "Blackjack" Pershing, made famous as leader of the American expeditionary force during World War I. When Humboldt County Courthouse in Winnemucca burned in 1918, the residents of Lovelock to the south did not want to pay for the construction of a new facility and clamored for the creation of a new county.
Captain Edward Faris Storey, one of the first residents of Virginia City, organized and commanded Company K, Nevada Militia, also know as the "Virginia Rifles." He was one of the commanders in the Pyramid Lake War of 1860 and was shot from ambush on June 2, 1860, during the battle. Storey County, with Virginia City as county seat, was named in his honor when it was created November 25, 1861.
With the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, the entire area of then western Utah Territory became know as "Washoe," after the Washoe Indians in the area. Nevada Territory was created in 1861, but not until a great controversy had been settled over the name. Many people wanted the area called Washoe while many others wanted Nevada as the name of the territory and eventually the state. Obviously Nevada won and Washoe, which became a county on April 25, 1861, created its first county seat at Washoe City.
With the large eastern Nevada mining of the late 1860's, the White Pine Mining District was founded at Hamilton. The name came from the large growths of white pines on the mountain ranges of the area. When White Pine County was created April 1, 1869, Hamilton, the most prominent city in the county, became the county seat. When the courthouse burned in 1885, the county seat moved to Ely. Hamilton today is a completely deserted ghost town.
This page was last updated 12/29/10