NEVADA is the great unknown. A land of incredible beauty, it covers more than a hundred thousand square miles of brilliantly colored terrain rising in chain after chain of mountains. Many of them lift snow caps ten to thirteen thousand feet or ascend to pinnacles sculptured into weird or striking forms.
Yet relatively few Americans are familiar with this land. If the citizen of other States is asked what he knows about Nevada, he is apt to laugh and mention gambling and divorce; on second thought he will add Virginia City, which he remembers from Mark Twain's exaggerated account in "Roughing It". Pressed for the State's physical characteristics, he will usually mention the Great Basin--envisioned as a huge hollow bowl--and then, drawing on his memory of pioneer stories, will say: "Isn't Nevada pretty much desert?" That the State is a mountainous region with a flora rivaling that of California in richness and variety, comes to him as astonishing news. He is further amazed to hear that most of the Boulder Dam-Lake Mead Recreational area is in Nevada; that Californians in large numbers come up to the Reno and Las Vegas areas for winter sports; that the Nevada mountains near the Utah line have well developed lake side campsites at elevations much higher than that of Lake Tahoe; and that the State has a number of towns with populations of less than two thousand where social life has a metropolitan character.
There are various reasons for this vast ignorance about the sixth largest State in the Union, but the chief one has been the reticence of the Nevadans themselves. They have always known their State's great beauty and are unusually sensitive to it, but humbled by long neglect on the part of the vast traveling public, it is only recently that they have begun to tell the world about Nevada.
Hatred of hypocrisy is an outstanding characteristic of the people of the Silver State, a characteristic which has given rise to misunderstanding. The State had a six-months divorce law long before the rest of the country knew about it. Many Nevadans hold marriage a private contract and believed that if the partners made a mistake they should