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Battle born, that much of the Nevada legend is true. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln desperately needed more electoral votes to ensure his reelection, and Nevada brimming with wealth was the obvious choice. But that was yesterday, this is today. This is the Nevada the world knows, an exotic playground for carefree adults. To most it's a land of gambling, of prostitution and divorce, it's the personification of life in the fast lane. Few states in the nation are so well known yet so unknown, so pleadingly experienced, yet so cheapened by cliches. How did the Nevada of yesterday become the Nevada of today? Is it really a blot on civilization, as one writer has suggested, or merely an extension of the Wild West where personal freedoms coupled with a devil-may-care attitude. In the next hour we'll examine the Silver State, not in the hazy splendor that outshines historical reality, but with a piercing microscope of a scholar. We'll see firsthand how Nevada has compensated for what the desert has denied. For centuries this great expanse, which was once covered by a vast ocean, saw few footprints save those of primitive Indian tribes, which lived on the perimeter. Trappers and adventurers, men like Jedidiah Smith, had first traversed the region, but even they were careful to avoid much of the searing arid desert. Then, as now, this vast wilderness refused to be tamed and those who sought to know it had first to confront its barrenness. But by the 1840s the United States was expanding westward. In 1843 President William Henry Harrison commissioned Captain John C. Fremont to conduct a specific expedition. The meticulous diaries of John Fremont were the first true glimpses of what would eventually become known as Nevada. Newspapers carried excerpts of his journey and Americans longing for news from the great American West were enthralled. Around every bend and over every gentle rise a strange new world opened to Fremont and his men. As a reward each new landmark was given the name of one of the expeditioners - the Carson River for Christopher Kit Carson, the Walker River and Walker Lake for Joseph Walker, the body of water that had been named Mary's River by trappers more than two decades before was renamed the Humboldt after the famous German Geographer, Alexander von Humboldt. Fremont also passed through the Las Vegas Meadows during 1844 on his return trip across the Old Spanish Trail. Fremont's journals of his Second Expedition were widely circulated in the East and Americans were fascinated with the stories of the vast and desolate land. And when news came of a gold strike at a remote spot in California called Sutter's Mill Americans primed by Fremont's Journal were ready. Almost overnight it seemed like half the nation was on the move. An endless stream of humanity poured through the Great Basin. Prior to the discovery of gold most immigrants braving the trail were looking for farmland in California and Oregon. Now there was a rush to riches. In a hectic attempt to be the