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Reno History

Gold, silver, gambling and divorce sound like the makings of a Hollywood docudrama. But this summarizes Reno’s (and the area’s) rich history. The legendary Comstock Lode of 1859 in Virginia City, Nev., was a significant silver strike and led to a stampede of marauders pilfering the area for riches. Mining continues to be one of the biggest industries in the state today, with Nevada leading the nation in gold production and being the fourth largest gold producer in the world. And many other minerals and ores are produced in the Silver State, including aggregates, barite, copper, diatomite, dolomite, gypsum, limestone and, yes, silver. Gambling was first made legal here in 1869 (and then outlawed in 1909 and allowed again in 1931, which stuck). While people still travel to Reno for the gaming, Reno’s sister city to the south, Las Vegas (450 miles away), is where most gaming enthusiasts wind up. The city became the nation’s divorce capital in 1931 when the residency requirement for divorce dropped to three months. Lake Tahoe, about 40 minutes from Reno in the western Sierra Nevada, became a vacation destination for the rich and famous in the early 20th century and continues today.