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Get to know Sparks

Founded back in 1904 as the site of a switching yard for the Southern Pacific Railroad, Sparks — named for Nevada Governor John T. Sparks, who owned a ranch in these parts — is today a bustling city of 98,000 people, making it the state's fifth-most populous. Among attractions like the busy Nugget Event Center and the 295,000-square-foot flagship location of sporting goods retailer Scheels, Sparks is appreciated for its four-season outdoor activities, which include access to a network of beautifully tended hiking trails and the Wild Island water park. The lovely Marina is the city's centerpiece. This 77-acre lake — part of a naturally occurring aquifer that replenishes some 3 million gallons of freshwater each day — is enjoyed by residents through an array of aquatic recreation, including sailing, windsurfing, and even scuba diving.

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Sparks History & Culture

Briefly called "East Reno" and subsequently Harriman, after New York railroad baron E.H. Harriman, the City of Sparks would never have existed if the Southern Pacific hadn't decided to straighten its winding route east of the Truckee River, laid down in haste during the rush to drive the Golden Spike. The area afforded ample real estate to construct their sprawling maintenance facilities, and neighboring parcels were awarded to roundhouse workers, who drew their lot numbers from an undoubtedly greasy hat — the company furthered the incentive by offering to haul employee's houses, from the old hub at Wadsworth, free of charge. While Sparks is hardly the one-track town it once was, it's still possible connect with this past at Victorian Square, where the past and present intertwine with exciting shopping, dining, and historic exhibits.