Teri Vance: Nevada tidbits to prepare for state’s birthday

As if on cue, this first week of October has been blustery and cool, ushering the first signs of fall. The leaves have changed and are starting to flutter through the air.

Here, that can only mean one thing: it is the season of Nevada Day.

In honor of the month that honors our state, I compiled some lesser-known Nevada trivia.

So brew up a cup of a hot drink of your choice and learn a little more about the great state we call home.

First things first. Let’s establish where Nevada got its name.

From the Spanish word meaning snow-capped.

While its name implies plenty of precipitation, Nevada is actually the driest state in the nation. We receive, on average, seven inches of rainfall annually.

Who was president when Nevada became a state?

Abraham Lincoln. Nevada became the 36th state on Oct. 31, 1864. It is the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War. West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia, is the first.

Most of us know the state flower is the sagebrush and the state bird is the mountain blue bird, but do you know the state artifact?

It’s the Tule Duck, which was created nearly 2,000 years ago by American Indians of the Great Basin. It was discovered by archeologists in 1924 during an excavation at Lovelock Cave. The 11 decoys were each formed of a bundle of bullrush (tule) stems, bound together and shaped to resemble a canvasback duck.

Speaking of American Indian artifacts, we have to acknowledge the place of Washoe Indian basketmaker Dat So La Lee in our state’s history. She was celebrated at the time for her craft, and her legend continues today.

What was her English name?

Louisa Keyser.

Although Samuel Clemens is not a native of Nevada, you could make the argument that Mark Twain is. He reportedly first used the name Mark Twain while working for Virginia City’s “Territorial Enterprise.”

After finding no success in mining, he took the job as the city editor of the paper for $25 per week. In a Feb. 3, 1863 letter to the Territorial Enterprise, Clemens signed, “yours dreamily, MARK TWAIN,” the first recorded use of the name under which he would become world famous.

Nevada has some interesting town names. Here are how some of them came to be.

Originally called Pizen Switch — likely because of the cheap booze sold there, referred to a “poison,” but the accent made it sound more like “Pizen” —Yerington was named for Henry M. Yerington.

He was superintendent of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad from 1868 to 1910.

Lee, Nevada is, in a roundabout way, named after Robert E. Lee.

J.L. Martin, a Maine native, named the town between Jiggs and Lamoille in Elko County after Lee Creek, a tributary of the South Fork Humboldt River. He’s also credited for naming the creek after the Civil War general.

Jarbidge — perhaps one of Nevada’s most mispronounced towns — got its name from the Shoshone word, “Tsawhawbitts.”


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