Yes, today's Halloween. But we bet you didn't know that on October 31, 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the Union. Let's celebrate with 19 facts about the Silver State.
1. You might think of it as the gambling state, but silver ore put Nevada on the map. The 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode triggered a silver rush and population boom. Nevada's location and mineral wealth made it an attractive potential Union state during the Civil War, and so it was. That's why Nevada's also known as the Battle Born State.
2. California's known as the Golden State, but most U.S. gold comes from Nevada.
3. In Spanish, "nevada" means "snow-capped." But if you say the state's name with the Spanish pronunciation—Nev-AH-da—you probably don't live there. Locals usually pronounce it Nev-AD-a.
4. Nevada was originally inhabited by the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes. The first permanent non-native settlement, built in 1851, belonged to a different group—the Mormons.
5. Nevada is the only state with the Shonisaurus, an ichthyosaur, as its state fossil. The four-flippered water reptile looked kind of like a dolphin on steroids.
6. Only 17 states have an official state grass. Nevada and Utah share the same one—Indian ricegrass, a popular food among bison, jackrabbits, and people on gluten-free diets. The latter consume it as Montina flour.
7. Nevada is also one of seven U.S. states with no individual income tax. It doesn't collect corporate income tax, either.
8. The iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was created by 35-year-old graphic designer Betty Willis in 1959. She never trademarked the design, calling it her "gift to the city." Willis continued working in neon signage until she was 77.
9. With fewer than 10 inches of rain per year, Nevada's the driest state in the U.S.
10. Nevada's the seventh-largest state in size, and about 86 percent of its land is owned by the federal government. From 1951 to 1992, 928 nuclear tests were performed at the Nevada Test Site just 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
11. In 1999, there was about one slot machine for every 10 residents.
12. Nevada's the only U.S. state to legalize prostitution, but only in the form of regulated brothels in counties with populations under 400,000. So all that prostitution that occurs in bigger cities like Reno and Las Vegas is illegal ... and thriving.
13. While several states don't have laws banning public intoxication, Nevada is the only one that specifically prohibits any local or state law from making it a public offense. It also has a statewide law allowing the 24-hour sale of booze from bars, restaurants, and stores.
14. Which brings us to the well-known tourism slogan, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Though different versions of the saying have been used over the years by various groups, "What happens here, stays here" was first used in Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority ad campaigns in December 2002. The Las Vegas advertising firm R&R Partners created the slogan and controversially bought the trademark from the Authority for $1, then began suing anyone infringing on it.
15. The Humboldt River is the fourth largest river in the U.S. in terms of discharge, but it has no outlet to the ocean. One geological term for a closed drainage system such as this: an endorheic basin.
16. Hoover Dam was a massive undertaking. Ideas for a dam had been investigated since 1900, but the project wasn't authorized until 1928. Construction began in 1931, and Hoover Dam was the largest dam in the world—726 feet high and 1,244 feet long—when it was completed in 1935. It was the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world until 1948.
17. Hoover Dam was originally called Boulder Dam. In 1947, it was renamed after Herbert Hoover, who negotiated the Colorado River Compact as the U.S. secretary of commerce before becoming the 31st U.S. president. Twelve years earlier, Hoover hadn't even been invited to the dam's dedication ceremony.
18. After dedicating what was then called Boulder Dam on September 30, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first POTUS to visit Las Vegas.
19. There are 112 deaths associated with the construction of Hoover Dam. The first was surveyor J.G. Tierney, who fell into the Colorado River and drowned on December 20, 1922. The last was Tierney's son, Patrick W. Tierney, who fell from an intake tower. The two men died on the same day, 13 years apart. Now that's dam spooky.