Territorial legislators met in Carson City in December of 1862 to create a State of “Washoe”. However, in November of 1863, when the delegates met to draft the constitution there was disagreement about the name.
In 1850, when the Territory of Utah was created by Congress, the area that is now Fernley was located on its far western border. The state we now know as Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864. However, the journey to statehood was not without a great deal of work and discarded or stalled proposals. In 1857, Congress was asked to create a new territory out of the “Great American Basin”. This region included parts of eastern California, Arizona and what is now Nevada. The area was referred to as the “Territory of Sierra”, “Carson Territory” or “Washoe Country”. In 1858, it was proposed that Nevada would be carved out of western Utah but pro-slavery southerners stalled the bill. Finally in 1859, the citizens of the western “Great Basin” met, seceded from the Utah Territory and created the territory of “Nevada”. This was never recognized by Congress, so it was not until May of 1861 President Buchanan signed the bill creating the Nevada Territory.
Territorial legislators met in Carson City in December of 1862 to create a State of “Washoe”. However, in November of 1863, when the delegates met to draft the constitution there was disagreement about the name. The other names that were considered were “Humboldt”, “Nevada”, and “Esmeralda”. When the debate was complete, “Nevada”, the Spanish name for snowy or snow-covered was accepted in July of 1864.
After the riches of the Comstock load (1859 to 1880) had ended, the area leaders looked for other opportunities in settling what is now Nevada. Mining was not to be the only resource for settlement. Farming, timber, railroads, and water projects – and all they entailed – were to be the key factors in the growth of the Fernley area. Mary B. Ansari explains in the book “Place Names of Lyon County, NV” that the name Fernley came into use in 1904. It was first referred to as Canal Township. The post office was established in 1908. She further explains that if there was another reference to the town of Fernley, all records were destroyed either in the San Francisco earthquake or when the Lyon County Courthouse burned in 1909. Ansari also explains that the origin of the name is not documented but there was a Dr. Fernley who worked for the railroad and it may have been named after him. That story is undocumented and the first known reference appeared in the January 1905 Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation of the United States listing Fernley as a railroad stop.