10 Oldest Cities In Nevada

We scoured the internet to determine the towns and cities in Nevada that have been around the longest.

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You might think your town is old, but it probably isn’t the oldest in the country.

That is unless you live in St. Augustine, FL. Which looks pretty good for being 454 years old.

That’s older than America for those playing at home.

So that got us thinking, what is the oldest city in Nevada? And how old is that when you put it into perspective of St. Augustine or American Independence in 1776?

Because even if your Nevada city or town is old, it isn’t really all that old in the grand scheme of things. For example, the Pyramids in Egypt were built around 2600 BC, a cool 4100 years before St. Augustine.

And now that we have you thinking about how the time line of your existence is really kind of unimpressive on the timeline of history, let’s drop right into the analysis.

These are the 10 oldest cities and towns in the Silver State according to their ‘date of foundation’:

  1. Reno (Photos)
  2. Pahrump (Photos)
  3. Winchester (Photos)
  4. Dayton
  5. Boulder City (Photos)
  6. Spanish Springs
  7. Mesquite (Photos)
  8. Fernley (Photos)
  9. Elko (Photos)
  10. Laughlin (Photos)

For being 150 years old, Reno doesn’t look a day over 40. And the newest city in Nevada? That would be Las Vegas — a brand spanking 13 years old.

Read on for a look at the oldest places in Nevada or feel free to check out the best places to live in Nevada or the safest.

How We Determined When A City Was Founded In Nevada… Or Is It Settled?

Surprisingly, there’s not a definitive data set that contains the dates of incorporation or settlement for cities in America. Put differently, there’s no official data set from the Census that contains when every place in America was founded.

So what did we do instead?

Use the internet’s version of official government data — Wikipedia of course!

For the majority of cities in Nevada, Wikipedia offers data on some kind of ‘date of foundation’ in the infobox. Unfortunately, because it’s Wikipedia and not a sprawling government bureaucracy, that can take the form of any of the following nomenclature (plus others):

  • Founded
  • Settled
  • Incorporated
  • Approved
  • Chartered

And then even more stuff — for example Atlanta has a ‘Terminus’ date, whatever that is.

If no ‘date of foundation’ was found in the infobox, we looked to the general text in the History section of the city for ‘Founded in XXXX’.

All in all, we were able to collect data on 17 out of 32 in Nevada with over 5,000 people. That’s good for a 53.1% completion rate.

We then ranked them from oldest to newest with Reno turning out to be the matriarch of Nevada at the ripe old age of 150.

Here’s a look at the top ten and a snippet of their history from Wikipedia.

1. Reno

Reno, Nevada

Population: 239,732
Founded: 1868
Age: 150
Archaeological finds place the eastern border for the prehistoric Martis people in the Reno area.

As early as the mid 1850s a few pioneers settled in the Truckee Meadows, a relatively fertile valley through which the Truckee River made its way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. In addition to subsistence farming, these early residents could pick up business from travelers along the California Trail, which followed the Truckee westward, before branching off towards Donner Lake, where the formidable obstacle of the Sierra Nevada began.

2. Pahrump

Pahrump, Nevada

Source: Wikipedia User |

Population: 35,812
Founded: 1902
Age: 116
Pahrump was originally inhabited by the Southern Paiute. It was slowly inhabited by settlers in the late 19th century. They reportedly chose the name for Pahrump after the original indigenous name Pah-Rimpi, or ‘Water Rock,’ so named because of the abundant artesian wells in the valley. Because of the artesian wells, the new inhabitants of Pahrump Valley began a number of large ranch-style holdings, mostly over 1000 acres (4 km²) in size. On the ranches, alfalfa and cotton were grown, and livestock were raised.

3. Winchester

Winchester, Nevada

Population: 28,130
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Founded as Paradise A in April 1951, the town was renamed Winchester in 1953.

4. Dayton

Population: 9,305
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Dayton is at the western end of the Twenty-Six Mile Desert at a bend in the Carson River. Immigrants stopping there for water would consider whether to follow the river south or continue west, giving the location its first name, Ponderers Rest. In 1849, Abner Blackburn, while heading for California, discovered a gold nugget in nearby Gold Creek, one of the tributaries of the Carson River.

5. Boulder City

Boulder City, Nevada

Population: 15,648
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
The land upon which Boulder City was founded was a harsh, desert environment. Its sole reason for existence was the need to house workers contracted to build the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River (known commonly as Boulder Dam from 1933 to 1947, when it was officially renamed Hoover Dam by a joint resolution of Congress). Men hoping for work on the dam project had begun settling along the river in tents soon after the precise site for the dam had been chosen by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1930. Their ramshackle edifices were collectively known as ‘Ragtown’.

6. Spanish Springs

Population: 16,458
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Sky Ranch Airport, a 2,000-foot (610 m)-long dirt airstrip, was located northeast of the intersection of State Route 445 and Spanish Springs Road. This 1940s auxiliary field was the site of the first Reno Air Races, in 1964 and 1965, then was the location of the headquarters of the 126,000-acre (510 km2) Rocketdyne Nevada Field Laboratory (NFL), which was used in the late 1960s and early 1970s for testing rocket engines used in the Space Program.

7. Mesquite

Mesquite, Nevada

Population: 17,467
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Mesquite was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1880, who called it Mesquite Flat. The community was finally established on the third attempt after having been flooded out from the waters of the Virgin River. The name was later shortened to Mesquite, and the city was incorporated by Thelma Davis in May 1984. Mesquite, like nearby Bunkerville, had its origins in farming. The Peppermill Mesquite casino, which opened in the 1970s, drove Mesquite’s diversified economy. The city incorporated in 1984 and established a master development plan during the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s, more casinos opened. By 2006, Mesquite was one of the fastest-growing small towns in the United States, though the late-2000s recession led to the closure of both the Mesquite Star and Oasis (formerly The Peppermill) casinos.

8. Fernley

Fernley, Nevada

Population: 19,261
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Fernley, established in 1904, developed as primarily an agricultural and ranching community in proximity to Reno. Early in its history, Fernley established its first schoolhouse. The one-room schoolhouse is still in use today as the home of the Fernley Chamber of Commerce.

9. Elko

Elko, Nevada

Population: 20,225
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
Though Elko lies along the route of the historic California Trail, it was first inhabited only in 1868, when it was at the east end of the railroad tracks built by the Central Pacific Railroad (the portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad built from California to Utah). When the railroad crews moved on, Elko remained, serving as a center for ranching, mining, rail freight and general supplies.

10. Laughlin

Laughlin, Nevada

Population: 7,758
Founded: 1905
Age: 113
The southernmost tip of Nevada, along the Colorado River, where Nevada, California, and Arizona meet, has become a major national tourist destination and gambling resort within the last few decades. The townsite of Laughlin was established in the 1940s as South Pointe because of the proximity to the southern tip of the state of Nevada. The early town consisted of a motel and bar that catered to gold and silver miners, construction workers building Davis Dam, and fishing enthusiasts. In the 1950s, construction workers left, and the town all but disappeared.

Oh How Time Flies For The Oldest Towns And Cities In Nevada

So there you have it, a look at some of the oldest places to live in Nevada. If we missed your city’s ‘date of foundation’, let us know in the comments. Or feel free to take a look at the table of the oldest places in Nevada.

And now, let’s raise our glasses, to the next 100 years of existence for these cities and towns in the Silver State.

And for those wondering, here are the newest additions to Nevada:

  1. Las Vegas (Founded in 2005)
  2. Incline Village (Founded in 2005)
  3. Henderson (Founded in 2005)
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  • Detailed List Of The Oldest Cities In Nevada

    City Rank Age Year Founded
    Reno 1 150 1868
    Pahrump 2 116 1902
    Winchester 3 113 1905
    Dayton 4 113 1905
    Boulder City 5 113 1905
    Spanish Springs 6 113 1905
    Mesquite 7 113 1905
    Fernley 8 113 1905
    Elko 9 113 1905
    Laughlin 10 113 1905
    Carson City 11 113 1905
    Sparks 12 113 1905
    Paradise 13 113 1905
    North Las Vegas 14 113 1905
    Henderson 15 113 1905
    Incline Village 16 113 1905
    Las Vegas 17 13 2005

    About Chris Kolmar

    Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

    He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

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