Minden's quiet residential streets, large central square, and numerous well-designed buildings distinguish it from most northwestern Nevada towns. The Dangberg Land and Livestock Company founded Minden in 1904, naming it after a town in Westphalia, Germany. H. F. Dangberg, an immigrant from that region, became one of the earliest and most prominent landowners in Carson Valley, establishing the land and livestock company in the nineteenth century. Much of the early town developed on land donated by the Dangbergs. In 1906 the family lured the V&T Railroad to the town by granting land for the right-of-way. The railroad's presence encouraged more ranching and farming by providing a faster means of transporting products out of the valley.
Minden's town plan is an orderly grid surrounding a central square laid out to the west of the railroad. Because the railroad terminated in Minden, the town soon rivaled its older, southern neighbor, Gardnerville, which never acquired a railroad. In 1915 Minden captured the designation of Douglas County seat from Genoa, even though its population was only in the low hundreds. During this early period, Nevada architect Frederick J. DeLongchamps designed numerous buildings for the Dangbergs, which give the core of the town a unified appearance. Since the 1960s, Minden has grown dramatically. The old downtown, located along Esmeralda Street, one block west of U.S. 395, has been eclipsed by national and regional franchises and other businesses along the highway, the main thoroughfare through Minden. The sprawl at Minden's southern end has become contiguous with Gardnerville, originally settled two miles away.
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