For the past 81 years, Nevada Magazine has remained an important part in promoting the Silver State, both to its residents and to visitors.
Publisher Janet Geary, who grew up in a large family in Las Vegas and has developed an intense love for the state’s history, offered a glimpse Tuesday of Nevada Magazine’s history from 1936-1981 through its covers in the sixth and final presentation of the Fallon Lecture Series: Pictures of the West at the Churchill County Museum.
Geary, who has had a distinguished career in the media, became Nevada Magazine’s publisher 10 years ago. She also previously served as publisher of The Record-Courier newspaper in Gardnerville. Through photographs of the magazine’s front covers, she highlighted key moments in the publication’s history, beginning in 1936 when the Nevada Highway Department published a magazine to inform readers of both new highways and parks. At the same time Nevada Highways and Parks magazine came on board, construction crews finished Boulder Dam (now Hoover).
The first color cover appeared in January 1938, and Geary said Lake Tahoe continued to be a favorite subject.
“Lake Tahoe was covered extensively in the magazine, and we still cover it today,” she said.
The magazine published a Diamond Jubilee edition in 1939, the 75th anniversary of Nevada’s statehood, with a cover featuring President Abraham Lincoln.
Geary said the magazine did not publish from 1941-1946 because of World War II, but publication resumed with the Fallon 1946 issue which included 32 pages and color photos on the inside pages.
Over the years, she said the number of annual publications fluctuated until the magazine came out quarterly beginning in 1964. In the 1960s, Geary said the magazine published three issues for the 1960 Olympics — before, during and after editions; a 100th anniversary issue in 1964 commemorating when Nevada first joined the Union; the first cover in 1966 of the Bonanza television cast; and 1969 when all four covers had a psychedelic look.
“All four covers glowed in the dark,” she said.
During the magazine’s history, Geary said more than 180 stories have been published on the Nevada State Museum, which is located in Carson City.
The mid-1970s produced more changes for the state’s magazine. In 1976, the magazine featured a bicentennial issue, presented its first year of “The Great Picture Hunt” and changed its name to Nevada Magazine, a departure from the highway department. Geary said as the magazine evolved, it became self-supporting and didn’t rely on state funding or highway department writers.
“We are self-sufficient,” she said. “We support our self with ad revenue and subscriptions. We don’t cost the state a dime, and we are very proud of that.”
Even in the day of the Internet, Geary said the number of readers has remained constant.
The 1980s began to offer more in-depth articles such as on the native Indians of Nevada; Nevada’s buckaroos, a black and white collection, and the state’s ranches; the golden anniversary of Hoover Dam with a spectacular night-time photo of the dam; the magazine’s 50th anniversary; the 25th anniversary of the filming of the movie, “The Misfits,” starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe; and the state’s 125th birthday in 1989. She said “The Misfits” from December 1986 was the most popular cover.
The 1990s looked at the state’s gaming, which celebrated 60 years in the Silver State; more than 100 stories on trains; Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret and their impact on Las Vegas; and the first “Best of Nevada” that appeared in August 1998. Geary said trains has generated much interest among the magazine’s readers.
“Nevada was built on trains,” she said, adding the magazine has featured stories on the state train museums in Carson City, East Ely and Boulder City and the V&T Railroad in Virginia City.
During the past 14 years, covers have promoted the 100th anniversary of Las Vegas, Burning Man, wild horses, Nevada’s six territories for tourism, ghost towns and Nevada’s sesquicentennial in 2014.
Geary said she and her small staff are particularly proud of the January/February 2009 cover on Mustangs that won a national award.