Reno Divorce History

In early 1900’s Nevada maintained a wild west reputation through its liberal divorce laws. Reno served as America’s center for divorce for more than half of the 20th century. Many accounts of those who ventured to Nevada seeking divorce share tales of feeling a strong sense community belonging during their stay. Cowboys and easterner’s worlds collided on dude ranches. Sinatra’s voice rang out to his fellow divorcees at the Riverside. Arthur Miller stayed on the shore of Pyramid Lake to part from his wife and marry Marilyn Monroe.

This tour spans sites in Nevada’s history as a divorce capital. From hotels and ranches to courthouses, the history of Nevada divorce is unearthed. The sites largely center in Reno though it also includes locations near Lake Tahoe and Nevada’s Capital in Carson City. These stories include famous and local figures in describing the history of an international divorce migration to Nevada.

Making the Divorce Capital of the World

For the majority of the 20th century, Reno, Nevada served as the divorce capital of the world. The state offered easy divorce requirements at a time when most states discouraged divorce through complex legal barriers. Nevada’s comparatively lax…

Russell’s Renovation

At the dawn of the 20th century, Nevada’s divorce laws required six months to establish state residency and offered seven grounds for divorce. The state’s liberal divorce laws and ease for establishing residency drew interest across the world,…

President of U.S. Steel Gets Renovated

Reno first met Laura Corey in December 1905 as she came seeking a divorce from her husband. William Ellis Corey was President of U.S. Steel and previously the president of the Carnegie Steel Company. Laura and William had married in 1883 with meager…

Evolution of the Riverside Hotel

The Riverside Hotel witnessed the emergence of Reno’s divorce haven. It sits on the Truckee River and was central to Reno’s divorce history. The 20th century hotel evolved from an 1870s home. The house was dubbed The Lake House after its owner Myron…

Reno Residence Options Evolve With Residency Law

News of Laura Corey’s divorce brought hopeful divorcees to Reno in droves. To augment the influx of divorcees and improve the state’s reputation, the state legislature voted to lengthen the time required to establish residency in 1913. The state…

Judge Bartlett’s Legacy

Reno’s honorable Judge Bartlett presided over divorce proceedings and served as and attorney in the early 20th century. Bartlett was revered by his clients and received heavy criticism for his role in Reno divorces. Through his books and his presence…

Sinatra’s Reno Residency

The Riverside Hotel became a temporary home to many as the divorce colony blossomed. Its walls evolved and expanded over the 20th century. In 1951, Frank Sinatra came to establish a Nevadan residence to divorce his first wife and sang at the…

Literature and Legacy of Pyramid Lake Ranch

Like the Riverside Hotel, Pyramid Lake Guest Ranch has roots in the 1880s, before being passed around from owner to owner in the 20th century. The first commercial use of the land came from Sutcliffe’s 1880s ranch dubbed the Willows. Sutcliffe’s era…

The Divorce of Miller, Marilyn, and the Misfits

Many divorcee’s inaugural steps as single souls graced the Washoe Courthouse steps. One such divorcee was the famous playwright Arthur Miller. Miller had resided at the Pyramid Lake Guest Ranch in the spring of 1956. After his six weeks residency and…