Today, the Nevada State Quarter remembers the Congressional actions of 149 years ago that changed Nevada’s state boundaries.
As originally constituted on March 2, 1861, Utah’s territory diminished to form Nevada. The new area’s western boundary conformed to the eastern boundary of California. The forty-second parallel formed its northern boundary, the 39° meridian defined its eastern edge with its southern edge along the 37° parallel.
By the Congressional enabling act, Nevada’s eastern edge changed with an extension to the thirty-eighth meridian.
These initial boundaries including the changes by the enabling act became the state’s boundaries when it joined the Union on October 31, 1864.
On May 5, 1866, its eastern limits were still further extended to longitude 37°, and its southern point added by redefining Arizona’s borders.
The legislation provided further details on the boundaries:
CHAP. LXXIII.—An Act concerning the Boundaries of the State of Nevada.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, as provided for and consented to in the constitution of the State of Nevada, all that territory and tract of land adjoining the present eastern boundary of the State of Nevada, and lying between the thirty-seventh and the forty-second degrees of north latitude and west of the thirty-seventh degree of longitude west of Washington, is hereby added to and made a part of the State of Nevada.
SEC. 2 . And be it further enacted, That there is hereby added to and made a part of the State of Nevada all that extent of territory lying within the following boundaries, to wit : Commencing on the thirty-seventh degree of north latitude, at the thirty-seventh degree of longitude west from Washington ; and running thence south on said degree of longitude to the middle of the river Colorado of the West ; thence down the middle of said river to the eastern boundary of the State of California ; thence northwesterly along said boundary of California to the thirty-seventh degree of north latitude ; and thence east along said degree of latitude to the point of beginning : Provided, That the territory mentioned in this section shall not become a part of the State of Nevada until said State shall, through its legislature, consent thereto : And provided further, That all possessory rights acquired by citizens of the United States to mining claims, discovered, located, and originally recorded in compliance with the rules and regulations adopted by miners in the Pah-Ranagat and other mining districts in the Territory incorporated by the provisions of this act into the State of Nevada shall remain as valid subsisting mining claims ; but nothing herein contained shall be so construed as granting a title in fee to any mineral lands held by possessory titles in the mining States and Territories.
APPROVED, May 5, 1866.
In the 1904 Third Edition of Boundaries of The United States and of the Several States and Territories, Henry Gannett described the state with even more changes.
The present limits of Nevada are as follows:
The east boundary is the thirty-seventh meridian of longitude, extending from the forty-second parallel of latitude southward to its intersection with the middle of the Colorado River; thence following the mid-channel of the Colorado River down to the point where it intersects the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude; the southwest boundary is the arc of a great circle running from the last-mentioned point and the point of intersection of the one hundred and twentieth degree of longitude west of Greenwich with the thirty-ninth parallel of latitude; the west boundary is the one hundred and twentieth degree of longitude west of Greenwich; the north boundary is the forty-second parallel of latitude.
The north boundary was surveyed and marked in 1873, and the west boundary, from latitude 42° south to Lake Tahoe and thence southeast to Colorado River, in latitude 35°, in 1872, under the General Land Office. Between 1890 and 1899 the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, under an appropriation by Congress, ran a new line from Lake Tahoe to Colorado River, differing widely in some places from the former line.