Halloween has always been a special day in Nevada. That is, of course, because October 31st is also Nevada Day: the day the state was admitted to the Union in 1864. Few states celebrate their statehood like Nevada, but few have tried so hard to obtain it.
As the state motto “Battle Born” suggests, Nevada entered the Union during the Civil War. As a Territory, Nevada had been contributing to the wealth of the Union through the booming silver and gold mines of the Comstock Lode. As a state, it was thought that Nevada’s additional electoral college votes could help re-elect President Lincoln in the upcoming November 1864 election.
On September 7, 1864, voters in Nevada Territory approved the state constitution. This document needed to be received and approved by the president before statehood could be granted. With just over a month until the election, the race to Washington DC was on. One copy was sent overland via stagecoach, with another copy being sent on a ship, where it would have to be unloaded to cross the Isthmus of Panama on a mule-train, before being loaded on another ship, bound for the nation’s capitol.
Neither one of these dispatches arrived on President Lincoln’s desk. One last-ditch effort was made. The entire state constitution of 16,543 words was transmitted via telegraph to Washington DC. The message had to be relayed three times, because there were no direct lines between Carson City and Washington DC. The document was transmitted to Salt Lake City, then to Chicago, and then on to Philadelphia. From there it was received in Washington on October 28th.
This transmission took over two days to be delivered. It was the longest single telegraph ever sent, and at $4,303.27, ($75,000 in today’s dollars), it was also the most expensive message ever sent.
President Lincoln approved the constitution on October 30th, and telegraphic confirmation was received in Carson City the following day. Celebrations rang out throughout the newly born State of Nevada, and have continued every year since. Beginning in 2000, the official observance of Nevada Day has been on the last Friday of October, with a parade in Carson City on the following day, Saturday.
The Saturday festivities in Carson City are more than just a parade. A pancake breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion gets the day off to a start. If pancakes aren’t your favorite, there are other celebratory breakfast buffets around town, as well as a chili feed. There will also be a Single-Jack Drilling Contest, where contestants pound their way through solid granite with a hammer and rod.
The parade starts at 10 AM with a fly-over by the Nevada Air National Guard. If you enjoy parades, arrive early, and bring a comfortable seat, as the parade can last from 3 to 4 hours. At over a mile long, there’s plenty of room to find a spot. The route is down Carson Street, between Williams and Stewart Streets.
Regardless of when the Nevada Day celebrations take place, Halloween has always been magical in Carson City. Trick-or-treating at the Governor’s Mansion is a long-standing tradition, where kids of all ages can get a treat from the Governor and First Lady. Although the lines are long, live entertainment including magicians and fire-dancers will make it worth your while.
Living in Nevada is special, not only for its amazing scenery, but for its rich cultural heritage and pride. As the only state to file-electronically for statehood, Nevada has always been a great place to try new things.
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