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Sparks, Nevada

Sparks, Nevada

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Sparks is a city in Washoe County
Washoe County, Nevada
Washoe County is a county located in the U.S. state of Nevada. The population was 421,407 at the 2010 census. Its county seat is Reno. Washoe County includes the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area.-History:...

, Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, located east of Reno, Nevada
Reno, Nevada
Reno is the county seat of Washoe County, Nevada, United States. The city has a population of about 220,500 and is the most populous Nevada city outside of the Las Vegas metropolitan area...

. The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count was 90,264. Sparks is often referred to as half of a twin city (i.e., "Reno-Sparks").

Geography and Climate

According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 24 square miles (62.2 km²), of which 23.9 sq mi (61.9 km²) is land and 0.1 sq mi (0.258998811 km²) (0.25%) of it is water. Stormwater surface runoff from the city drains into the Truckee River
Truckee River
The Truckee River is a stream in the U.S. states of California and Nevada. The river is about long. Its endorheic drainage basin is about , of which about are in Nevada. The Truckee is the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe and drains part of the high Sierra Nevada, emptying into Pyramid Lake in the Great...

, a sensitive hydrological element because it empties into Pyramid Lake, which has no outlet and is the habitat of two endangered species.

Sparks has a semi-arid climate. Due to frequent low humidity, especially in the summer, daily temperature ranges are fairly wide. The average January temperatures are a maximum of 48.3 °F (9.1 °C) and a minimum of 23.5 °F (-4.7 °C). Average July temperatures are a maximum of 91.7 °F (33.2 °C) and a minimum of 53.6 °F (12 °C). There are an average of 52.3 days with highs of 90 °F (32.2 °C) and an average of 141.7 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C). The record high temperature was 108 °F (42.2 °C) on July 11, 2002, and the record low temperature was -19 F on February 4, 2001.

Average annual precipitation in Sparks is 7.82 inches (198.6 mm). There are an average of 48 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1998 with 15.07 inches (382.8 mm) and the driest was 1990 with 4.65 inches (118.1 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 3.81 inches (96.8 mm) in December 2005, including the most precipitation in 24 hours (1.61 inches (40.9 mm)) on December 31.

Average snowfall per year is 7 inches (177.8 mm). The most snow in one year was 21 inches (533.4 mm) in 2008 and the most snow in one month was 19.6 inches (497.8 mm) in February 1990.


As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 66,346 people, 24,601 households, and 16,630 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 2773.6 PD/sqmi. There were 26,025 housing units at an average density of 1088 PD/sqmi. The racial makeup of the city was 78.38% White, 2.40% African American, 1.18% Native American, 4.99% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 9.11% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 3.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.70% of the population.

There were 24,601 households out of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,745, and the median income for a family was $52,029. Males had a median income of $35,215 versus $28,242 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $21,122. About 6.5% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.


In the early historical period, the area that is now Sparks was inhabited by the Washoe people. Euro-American settlement of the area began in the early 1850s with the early settlers often selling cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 to California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

-bound emigrants. The emigrants' cattle were commonly weak and sick from the long and arduous journey along the California Trail
California Trail
The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California...

, and they needed fresh animals to take them over the Sierra Nevada. As part of the deal, the settlers would receive the emigrants' cattle, and then fatten them up to sell to the next year's batch of emigrants.

The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 in the area remained very low until 1904 when the Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

 built a switch yard and maintenance sheds there. The city that sprung up around them was first called Harriman after E. H. Harriman, president of the Southern Pacific. The city was quickly renamed Sparks after John Sparks, the Governor of Nevada at that time.

Sparks remained a small and sleepy town until the 1950s, when economic growth in Reno triggered a housing boom north of the railroad in the area of Sparks. During the 1970s, the area south of the railroad started to fill up with warehouses and light industry. In 1984 the tower for John Ascuaga's Nugget was finished, giving Sparks its first, and currently only, high-rise casino
In modern English, a casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions...

. In 1996, the redevelopment effort of the old and unsightly B Street business district across from the Nugget that started in the early 1980s took a step forward with the opening of a multi-screen movie complex and the construction of a plaza area. This area, now known as Victorian Square, is a pedestrian-friendly district that hosts many open-air events.

Under direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

, a comprehensive dynamic water quality computer model, the DSSAM Model
The DSSAM Model is a computer simulation developed for the Truckee River to analyze water quality impacts from land use and wastewater management decisions in the Truckee River Basin. This area includes the cities of Reno and Sparks, Nevada as well as the Lake Tahoe Basin...

 was developed (Earth Metrics, 1987) to analyze impacts of a variety of land use and stormwater
Stormwater is water that originates during precipitation events. It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt that enters the stormwater system...

 management decisions throughout the 3120 square miles (8,080.8 km²) Truckee River
Truckee River
The Truckee River is a stream in the U.S. states of California and Nevada. The river is about long. Its endorheic drainage basin is about , of which about are in Nevada. The Truckee is the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe and drains part of the high Sierra Nevada, emptying into Pyramid Lake in the Great...

 Basin; this model was used to develop a set of surface runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

Stormwater is water that originates during precipitation events. It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt that enters the stormwater system...

 management measures for Sparks in the 1980s.


  • Legends at Sparks Marina
    Legends at Sparks Marina
    The Outlets at Legends is an upscale outlet center in Sparks, Nevada, owned and managed by RED Development. Legends currently contains 45 retailers and restaurants and it is anchored by Scheels All Sports ....

  • Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off
    Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off
    The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off is an annual rib cook-off in Sparks, Nevada. The competition involves St. Louis-style pork ribs. The event is held at Victorian Square in Sparks and has taken place annually over the Labor Day weekend since 1989; it is sponsored by John Ascuaga's Nugget...

  • John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort
    John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort
    John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort is a casino resort/hotel in Sparks, Nevada. The main portion of the casino consists of two 29-story towers nestled between Interstate 80 and the Union Pacific rail yard. There are additional attached buildings underneath and across Interstate 80 from the towers...

  • Sparks Western Village
    Sparks Western Village
    Peppermill Sparks Western Village Casino is located adjacent to the City of Sparks’ new Marina. Western Village was founded in 1983....

  • Terrible's Rail City
    Herbst Gaming
    Affinity Gaming, formerly known as Herbst Gaming, is a casino and slot route operator based in Paradise, Nevada, United States that operates under the name Terrible's...

Private schools

Sparks has a few private elementary schools such as Legacy Christian School
Legacy Christian School
Legacy Christian School is a Christian private school in Reno/Sparks, Nevada. Founded in 1997, it offers grades K-8 and is a non-profit corporation 501...

, Excel Christian School
Excel Christian School
Excel Christian School is a Christian private school in Reno/Sparks, Nevada. Founded in 2003, it offers grades K-12 and is a non-profit corporation 501. The school mascot is the Warriors, and the school's colors are Red and Black. Their sports teams are known as the "Excel Warriors."- Licensing...

, and the Lamplight Christian School. Reno
Reno is the fourth most populous city in Nevada, US.Reno may also refer to:-Places:Italy*The Reno River, in Northern ItalyCanada*Reno No...

 has several private high schools, including Bishop Manogue Catholic High School and Sage Ridge School.


The Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad
The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....

 and Interstate 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

 run east-west through the center of Sparks. The Union Pacific has a significant rail yard
Rail yard
A rail yard, or railroad yard, is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading/unloading, railroad cars and/or locomotives. Railroad yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock stored off the mainline, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic....

 south of I-80 near downtown and is a central part of the area's industrial park
Industrial park
An industrial park is an area zoned and planned for the purpose of industrial development...

. State Route 445 (Pyramid Way)
Nevada State Route 445
State Route 445 is a state highway in Washoe County, Nevada. The route follows Pyramid Way, a major thoroughfare in the city of Sparks, and connects the Reno metropolitan area to Pyramid Lake . The route is designated a Nevada Scenic Byway....

 and State Route 659 (McCarran Blvd)
Nevada State Route 659
State Route 659 is a state highway in Washoe County, Nevada. The route follows McCarran Boulevard, an arterial ring road serving the cities of Reno and Sparks. The route provides access to many businesses and residential areas in the Truckee Meadows....

 are the city's major north-south thoroughfares. Pyramid Way runs from downtown to Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is the geographic sink of the Truckee River Basin and is located northeast of Reno. The inflow is moderately high silt-loaded surface runoff....

 and has been designated a Nevada Scenic Byway. Sparks is also served by the nearby Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Sparks. The city's passenger rail station is centrally located on Nugget Avenue east of 11th Street, within the Union Pacific Railroad Yard. Amtrak Train 5, the westbound California Zephyr
California Zephyr
The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

, is scheduled to depart Sparks at 8:55am every day and serves the cities of Reno, Truckee, Colfax, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez and Emeryville
Emeryville, California
Emeryville is a small city located in Alameda County, California, in the United States. It is located in a corridor between the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, extending to the shore of San Francisco Bay. Its proximity to San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, the University of California, Berkeley, and...

, across the bay from San Francisco. Amtrak Train 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, is scheduled to depart Sparks at 4:08pm every day and serves the cities of Winnemucca, Elko, Salt Lake, Provo, Helper, Green River, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Denver, Omaha, Galesburg, and Chicago
Union Station (Chicago)
Union Station is a major train station that opened in 1925 in Chicago, replacing an earlier 1881 station. It is now the only intercity rail terminal in Chicago, as well as being the city's primary terminal for commuter trains. The station stands on the west side of the Chicago River between Adams...


Notable residents

Notable people from Sparks, Nevada
Name Native Profession Reason for notability
T.J. Bell Motor sport driver Auto Racing Club of America
Brian Crane
Brian Crane
Brian Crane is the cartoonist who created the comic strip Pickles. He received the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award for 2001 for his work on the strip. Mr. Crane is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sometimes draws LDS temples or periodicals as...

Syndicated cartoonist Pickles
Pickles (comic strip)
Pickles is a daily and Sunday comic strip by Brian Crane focusing on a retired couple in their seventies, Earl and Opal Pickles. Inspired by Crane's in-laws, they find retirement life less than idyllic.The comic is set in Crane's hometown of Sparks, Nevada...

Jim Gibbons Politician Former Governor of Nevada
Jena Malone
Jena Malone
Jena Malone is an American actress and musician who has appeared on television, in films, and on Broadway. She made her movie debut with the film Bastard Out of Carolina , and has appeared in films including Contact , Stepmom , Donnie Darko , Saved! , Into the Wild , and Sucker Punch .Malone is...

Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Karl Christian Rove was Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush until Rove's resignation on August 31, 2007. He has headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives...

Political activist, lobbyist and pundit
Brian Retterer
Brian Retterer
Brian Retterer is a retired American swimmer specialising in freestyle and backstroke events. He is best known for winning the silver medal in the men's 100 m backstroke event at the 1997 FINA Short Course World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. He also competed for his native country at...

Athlete (swimmer) NCAA Champion at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

Scott Cousins
Scott Cousins
Scott Michael Cousins is an outfielder for the Miami Marlins organization.-Amateur career:Cousins, 6'1 197 lbs, attended North Valleys High School in Reno, Nevada where he was a stand out in both baseball and basketball.As a sophomore at the University of San Francisco in 2005, Cousins...

Athlete (Professional baseball player)

Further reading

  • Earth Metrics Inc, C.M. Hogan, Marc Papineau, et al. Development of a dynamic water quality simulation model for the Truckee River, Environmental Protection Agency Technology Series, Washington D.C. (1987)

External links