When gold was discovered near Virginia City in 1859, the prospectors needed a means of getting across the Truckee River in order to get to Virginia City from the California Trail. Charles Fuller built a toll bridge across the river which he sold to Myron Lake and soon the community of Lake’s Crossing sprang up. When the Central Pacific Railroad arrived in 1868, the town changed its name to Reno, after civil war hero Jesse L Reno. The mining boom saw the town grow into a city, but as mining declined, so did Reno. When in 1931 casinos were legalised in Nevada, a history of illegal gambling enabled Reno to quickly convert to legal gambling. It soon became the leading centre for gambling and a place to take advantage of Nevada’s liberal divorce laws.
Silver Legacy & Circus Circus Casinos
The casinos in Reno are smaller than their counterparts in Las Vegas and none of them are themed to the extent of The Venetian, Paris or Luxor in ‘Vegas. While the newer casinos in Reno do have whimsical facades as shown in this picture, the older casinos seem straight out of the 1950s. Click Tab 2 to see one of the older casinos, the Cal-Neva Casino in 2nd Street.
In 1928 to celebrate the opening of a surfaced (paved) road over the Donner Summit from California, Reno unveiled an iron arch spanning Virginia Street carrying the words "RENO, The Biggest Little City in the World". The iron arch has long gone, but the phrase stuck and today an arch of more modern and glitzy design spans the main gambling street of Reno.
Kings Inn Casino awaiting demolition, 3rd Street
Ever wondered what happens to casinos when they get old and decrepit? Here is the answer courtesy of the former Kings Inn Casino in 3rd Street. Stripped of its bright lights and glitter the building underneath looks very ordinary as it awaits demolition. The next time we visit Reno we will no doubt find a glossy modern casino standing on this site.
Reno from Route 341
From the distance there is something a bit odd about this gambling city. Where are the fake world landmarks that form part of huge casinos? Although Reno took the early lead in gambling, in the 1970s Las Vegas took over as the prime gambling centre in Nevada, so Reno has not seen the growth of themed casinos that Las Vegas saw in the late 20th century. From a distance, downtown Reno looks much like any other US city.
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