The numerous valleys of Nevada have supported a vigorous cattle industry since the 1850s. Cattlemen ranged their herds throughout northern Nevada by the 1870’s. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 was the catalyst that created a prosperous industry. Longhorns from Texas were driven to fertile valleys for feeding, and then shipped as far as Omaha and San Francisco to market.
As the mining booms subsided, Nevada’s ranches kept the state alive in the nineteenth century. Improvements in breeding stock and winter feeding helped build vast ranching empires for hardworking stockmen. Today, more than ninety percent of Nevada’s cropland is devoted to feed for cattle. For more than a century, Nevada has been a principal food producer for the nation.