Exploration And Early Settlement In Nevada Historic Context

High Rock Canyon NV

Publication: Nevada State Historic Preservation Office

Author: Terri McBride

Date of Publication: 2022



The exploration of Nevada can be divided into three overlapping but distinct phases. The first phase, “Fur Trappers and Caravanners” (1826-1833), is characterized by small scale forays into Nevada by fur trappers who explored the area for its natural resources, and commercial caravanners traveling through southern Nevada between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. The second phase, “Sponsored Explorations” (1834-1853), saw the arrival of explorers seeking to chart the area for the government, the railroad, and the Mormon Church. The final phase of exploration in Nevada, Emigration (1844-1859), is typified by emigrants crossing the state to reach the temperate climate and gold fields of California, with many of these returning to the western Great Basin region with the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859. These activities-fur trapping, exploration, and emigration-overlap somewhat and the initiation of one phase does not necessarily mean the complete cessation of the previous activity. All of the “Exploration” phases eventually led to the early settlement (1851-1859, up until the Comstock discovery) of Nevada.