Business and Economy

Washoe County Courthouse

Established in 1861, Washoe County's original seat of government was in Washoe City, the location of its first courthouse. In 1871, the county government transferred to Reno where the commissioners built a simple brick Italianate courthouse. Shortly after the move, a contractor demolished the Washoe City courthouse for the brick.

John William Mackay

John Mackay was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. His surname was Scottish, but he identified with his Irish heritage. In 1840, Mackay's family immigrated to New York, his father dying shortly afterwards. John Mackay left school and eventually apprenticed as a shipwright. In 1851, he traveled to California where he gained experience mining for gold.

John Piper

John Piper was a young German immigrant operating a fruit stand in San Francisco when he, his wife, and brothers joined the 1860 rush to the Comstock Lode. Piper bought property on Virginia City's B Street, a busy commercial corridor, where he established the Old Corner Bar. He became a successful saloonkeeper and ran for public office, serving as an alderman in 1865 and mayor the following year.

Jacob Davis and the Copper-riveted Jeans

Although the Levi Strauss name is indelibly associated with copper-riveted jeans, it was Jacob W. Davis who first fabricated them at his Reno shop in 1871. After several legal battles, he and Strauss jointly won patent rights to the invention, and Davis supervised their manufacture in San Francisco until his death.

George Hearst

George Hearst, born on a Missouri farm in 1820, was a shrewd investor who turned a small investment in the Comstock Lode into the foundation of an American empire. He was seeking his fortune in California when news of the 1859 Comstock Lode discoveries rippled through the western mining camps. Hearst was one of the first to cross the Sierra, hoping to purchase claims before prices inflated. He agreed to pay $3,000 to Patrick McLaughlin for his one-sixth share of a Comstock mine.


Located in Elko County, Wells became a natural rest area for emigrants heading west because of its open meadows and natural well water. The first written report of the area came from a pioneer's journal in 1845. Because the springs, (or "wells") are the source of the Humboldt River, the area was originally dubbed Humboldt Wells. By the 1850s and 1860s, hundreds of covered wagons passed through Humboldt Wells every year.

West Wendover

West Wendover, which sits on the eastern edge of Nevada, is a flourishing community, and a testament to the powerful lure of the gaming industry. The city is an offshoot of Wendover, Utah, which was established by officials of the Western Pacific Railroad as a watering station in 1907.

Edward Von Tobel Lumber Company

The Edward Von Tobel Lumber Company opened for business in 1905 and remained in operation until 1976, the longest lasting family business in Las Vegas history. It was founded by second-generation German Americans Edward Von Tobel Sr. (1873-1967) and his partner and boyhood friend Jake Beckley on two twenty-five-foot lots on South Main Street.

Charles Pember Squires

Charles Pember "Pop" Squires, prominent pioneer Las Vegas newspaper editor and publisher, is sometimes called the "Father of Las Vegas." He was even referred to as "Mr. Las Vegas" before singer Wayne Newton captured the title. During Squires's long tenure as a newspaper editor-publisher, he owned the Las Vegas Age for thirty-two years.


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