History and Facts of Nevada Counties
Today’s Nevada counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.
On November 25, 1861, the first Nevada Territorial Legislature established nine counties.
The Nevada Territory, was organized on March 2, 1861. Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864 as the 36th State with 11 counties.
Carson City, the state capital, is also an independent city, which doesn’t belong to any county. However, it has a similar status to that of the 16 counties in the state.
Carson City used to be the county seat of Ormsby County, but the two were consolidated in 1969.
Nevada is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. Carson City is officially a consolidated municipality; however, for many purposes under state law it is considered to be a county.
There are some Nevada counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.
Fun Facts about Nevada Counties
Counties by Year
- Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lake, Lyon, Ormsby, Storey and Washoe Counties was the original 9 counties created when Nevada Territory formed on November 25, 1861.
- Pershing County was the last county created on March 18, 1912.
County Size Facts
- Nye County (18,147 sq mi) is the largest county in Nevada.
- Carson City (144 sq mi) is the smallest county in Nevada.
County Population Facts
- Esmeralda County (783) is the least populated county in Nevada.
- Clark County (2,204,079) is the most populated county in Nevada.
Nevada City Facts
Nevada’s 10 largest cities (2010 est.) are:
- Las Vegas (583,756) is in Clark County
- Henderson (257,729) is in Clark County
- Reno (225,221) is in Washoe County
- North Las Vegas (216,961) is in Clark County
- Sparks (90,264) is in Washoe County
- Carson City (55,274) is a Independent City
- Fernley (19,368) is in Lyon County
- Elko (18,297) is in Elko County
- Mesquite (15,276) is in Clark County
- Boulder City (15,023) is in Clark County
Boundary Changes of Nevada Counties from 1852 to 1969
This Interactive Map of Nevada Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Nevada from 1852-1969.
List of Nevada Counties
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Disbanded / Renamed||Notes|
|Carson City County||23 Jul 1969||Consolidated with Ormsby County in 1969||The Carson River; named in turn for Christopher Houston (Kit) Carson (1809–1868), was a frontiersman, mountain man (fur trapper), wilderness guide, Indian agent, and U.S. Army officer during the Mexican-American War and American Civil War||Carson City|
|Churchill County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||In honor of Sylvester Churchill (1783–1862), a captain in the War of 1812 and a major in the Mexican–American War||Fallon|
|Clark County||05 Feb 1909||Lincoln County||In honor of William A. Clark (1839–1925), former United States Senator from Montana, and builder of a railroad line through the area||Las Vegas|
|Douglas County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||In honor of Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813–1861), former United States Senator from Illinois||Minden|
|Elko County||05 Mar 1869||Lander County||Shoshoni word meaning "white woman". It is said, among the very old Shoshoni, that this is where they first saw a white woman||Elko|
|Esmeralda County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||Esmeralda Mining District, named in turn for the legend that a massive amount of emeralds was buried in what is now Nevada. "Esmeralda" is the Spanish and Portuguese word for "emerald"||Goldfield|
|Eureka County||01 Mar 1873||Lander County||Greek expression "Eureka", meaning "I have found it!", in reference to deposits of silver found in the vicinity||Eureka|
|Humboldt County||20 Dec 1855||Original county in the Nevada Territory||Humboldt River, named in turn for Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), a German naturalist and explorer||Winnemucca|
|Lander County||19 Dec 1862||Original county in the Nevada Territory||In honor of Frederick W. Lander (1821–1862); a transcontinental United States explorer, a brigadier general in the American Civil War, a prolific poet, and developer of the area||Battle Mountain|
|Lincoln County||26 Feb 1866||Nye County and territory ceded by Arizona||In honor of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th President of the United States (1861-1865)||Pioche|
|Lyon County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||In honor of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861), who was killed in action at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri on August 10, 1861||Yerington|
|Mineral County||10 Feb 1911||Esmeralda County||Mineral deposits in the area||Hawthorne|
|Nye County||16 Feb 1864||Esmeralda County||In honor of James W. Nye (1815–1876), a governor of the Nevada Territory and U.S. senator from Nevada||Tonopah|
|Pershing County||18 Mar 1919||Humboldt County||In honor of John Joseph (Black Jack) Pershing (1860–1948); he served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, 1917–18||Lovelock|
|Storey County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||In honor of Edward Farris Storey (1829–1860), a captain killed at Pyramid Lake in the 1860 Paiute War||Virginia City|
|Washoe County||25 Nov 1861||Original county in the Nevada Territory||Washo, a small Indian tribe that inhabits the area||Reno|
|White Pine County||02 Mar 1869||Lander County||The heavy growth of pine trees in the area, thought to be white pine||Ely|
List of Old Former / Extinct Nevada Counties
The below Nevada counties no longer exist:
Bullfrog County, Nevada
Created on June 29, 1987 from a portion of Nye County. This creation was an effort by Nevada to discourage construction of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site.
On May 3, 1889, it was abolished and lost all territory to Nye County, following a Nevada District Court ruling that the creation was unconstitutional.
Carson County, Utah Territory
It was enlarged in 1856, then discontinued in 1857. It was reorganized as part of Utah in 1859. On March 2, 1861, it was eliminated.
Humboldt County, Utah Territory
was created in 1856 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Churchill, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, and Pershing counties; abolished in 1861
Lake County, Nevada
was created in 1861 as an original county; renamed Roop in 1862; annexed in 1883 by Washoe County
Ormsby County, Nevada
was created in 1861 as an original county; combined with Carson City to form the independent municipality of Carson City in 1969
Roop County, Nevada
was Created in 1861 as an original county called Lake; renamed Roop in 1862; annexed in 1883 by Washoe County.
Saint Mary’s County, Utah Territory
was created in 1856 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Elko, Eureka, and White Pine counties; abolished in 1861.
- Pah-Ute County was created in 1864 by Arizona Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Clark County; abolished in 1871
- Rio Virgin County was created in 1869 by Utah Territory with jurisdiction over an area now in Clark County; abolished in 1872