Celebrate the founding of Nevada Territory

Interwoven into the fabric of Nevada history are the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

Next week marks the 150th anniversaries of both the creation of the Nevada Territory on March 2, 1861, with the signature of outgoing President James Buchanan, and the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln two days later.

The Nevada State Museum and the Reno Coin Club are celebrating the historical events with a two-day festival at the museum, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. today and Saturday.

"We wanted to have this event to remind people that the Nevada Territory anniversary is in early March," said museum Curator of History Robert Nylen. "It's important to note that, and also that in a few years we'll celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nevada statehood. And it's all so close to one of the most important presidential inaugural addresses."

Lincoln's first inaugural address sought to avert war, unsuccessfully. Only 39 days later, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, launching the War Between the States.

"We're starting all these anniversaries right now that lead up to the big one, to (the anniversary of) Nevada statehood in 2014," Nylen said.

Statehood came shortly before Lincoln's second presidential election. He also signed the bill creating the Carson City Mint on March 3, 1863, - another March anniversary, Nylen noted.

During the museum's 150th anniversary celebration, Nylen will present a lecture both days on the history of the Lincoln penny and Lincoln's inauguration. Lecture times are 11 a.m. today and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Reno Coin Club will present an extensive coin display and exchange during the event. Sets of commemorative Lincoln pennies, tracing the life of the 16th president, will be available for purchase, as well as the newly minted Gettysburg quarter from the National Parks series, club president David Elliott said.

In addition, the coin club will offer free coins for children, and the opportunity to exchange and purchase presidential dollars, and state, territory and national park series quarters.

"There are a lot of ways to learn about American history by collecting coins," said Elliott, who also will have a display of ancient Greek and Roman coins from his personal collection.

Museum volunteer Ken Hopple runs Historic Coin Press No. 1 both days from

10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. In honor of the celebration, a Commem-orative Lincoln/Nevada Territorial Medallion will be minted for the first time in both fine silver ($60) and copper ($35). The medallion design features the Nevada Territorial Seal on the face and the museum's Bicentennial Abraham Lincoln design on the reverse.

The original territorial seal was designed by Orion Clemens - brother of Samuel Clemens, who became known as Mark Twain. The design possibly was based on the design of the Iowa state seal, where Orion Clemens had lived for a number of years.

The museum also will feature an extensive display of Civil War items from the collection of Doug Larsen, a member of the Reno Coin Club. The Civil War exhibit will open Thursday and remain on display for five weeks.

The display includes a Civil War sword, belt, buckle and ammunition pouch. Hand-painted political buttons from Lincoln's second presidential campaign are featured plus documents such as Civil War mustering-out papers and an original copy of the New York Herald announcing the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

"I like documents, I like paper, I like newspapers of the time," said Larsen, who has a military background himself.

The Nevada State Museum is located at 600 N. Carson St., Carson City. Regular admission fees apply. Museum members and children 17 and younger are free; non-member adults are $8. For information call 775-687-4810, ext. 239 or 245.


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