Alternative History
Sierra Nevada Union (SNU)
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Northern & Central Nevada and portions of El Dorado, Placer, Alpine, Nevada, and Mono Counties, California
Flag of Sierra Nevada Union (SNU)
Flag of Sierra Nevada Union (SNU)
Location of Sierra Nevada Union (SNU)
Location of Sierra Nevada Union (SNU)
Battle Born, Battle Ready
Capital Carson City
Largest city Reno-Sparks
Other cities Fallon, Elko, South Lake Tahoe
  others Spanish
Religion Christian
Government Constitutional Democracy
Population 400,000 (approx.)
Established 1985

Sierra Nevada, also known as the Sierra Nevada Union (SNU), is a nation of 400,000 people located in the western region of the former United States. The current boundaries of the SNU are defined as portions of the former state of Nevada and the areas of Nevada, El Dorado, Placer, Alpine, and Mono Counties, California east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The nation is a mosaic embodying elements of the old American West alongside the 20th Century. In search of stability in the New World following Doomsday, citizens have come to embrace and emulate the frontier and pioneer spirit which inspired those of earlier times. However, the SNU is a nation also shaped and forged by the violence of the post-war world, tending to be suspicious and cautious in dealing with others in light of battles over the years with various attackers. With the dawn of the 21st Century, the SNU has slowly begun to change aspects of its isolationism and as of 2010, active internal discussions are underway to consider joining the NAU.


See also: History of Sierra Nevada


The government of the SNU was officially established under the terms of the Sierra Nevada Constitution signed in early 1985. Under the agreement, the nation’s capital is based in Carson City, which functions as a federal district separate from the surrounding county. The SNU government is structured along the lines of the former state of Nevada and incorporates many elements of the former state constitution and US Constitution, including a Bill of Rights. It is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.


Richard Bryan, Last Governor of Nevada & first SNU President

The President and Vice President are popularly elected to a term of six years, but are restricted to no more than two terms in office. Upon the death of the President, the Vice President serves the remainder of the term. If this period is more than three years, they are limited to running for only one term in office. The President holds the title as commander of the armed forces and chief executive of the nation. The President appoints, with the Assembly’s approval, cabinet secretaries who oversee key areas of the nation. This includes Defense; Foreign Affairs; Agriculture; Energy; Transportation; Technology; and Education.


Despite a considerable amount of heated debate, it was ultimately decided to create one legislative body, the Assembly, the argument being in the post-war world the new nation’s national security could be affected by decisions of importance taking time to wind their way through two bodies versus one. The Assembly holds sessions in the former Nevada Legislative Building in Carson City, meeting twice a year to cover matters of importance. They may be called into an emergency session by the President. All members are popularly elected to terms of four years; restricted by term limits to no more than three consecutive terms; and are barred by law from running again for office until eight years have passed. The original apportionment of legislators was deemed unfeasible due to the reduced population and as such was reconfigured. Under the SNU Constitution, each county (or district) elects five representatives to the SNU Assembly.


The Judicial System is modeled along the lines of the old Nevada Judicial System, in which there are only two sets of courts, district and supreme. All judges are elected to their posts. In cases where distance would interfere with timely proceedings, the district judge may travel to a location and preside over trials. All verdicts may be appealed to the five justices of the SNU Supreme Court. However, in a major change as opposed to the old Nevada Constitution, the Supreme Court may waive the hearing of an appeal and let the District Court ruling stand.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement in the SNU falls into two categories, local and national. Local police and sheriff departments are still responsible for providing law enforcement in their individual regions. Statewide however, it is provided by the Sierra Nevada Marshall Service (SNMS) established in 1986 by the SNU to replace the Highway Patrol. Marshals carry out a number of duties, including: patrolling major roads and highways by motor vehicle or horse; protecting key government officials; investigating crimes which involve the state or cross jurisdictional boundaries; and escorting prisoners.

Borders & Expansion


Since its creation following the chaos of Doomsday, the SNU has struggled to both define and protect its borders. For the first ten months following the war, the Nevada government in Carson City tried desperately to maintain its pre-war borders; the exception being Clark County and the southern areas of Esmeralda, Nye, and Lincoln Counties, which were abandoned due to nuclear strikes, heavy fallout, and lawlessness. However, by the late spring 1984, it became increasingly apparent it was a nearly impossible task. Raiders and other elements were frequently penetrating its borders and terrorizing small towns and settlements, especially in the south and north. One of the more gruesome examples being the massacre of some 200 people when the capital of Esmeralda County, Goldfield, was sacked and burned by a large raiding party from the former California.

This attack, as well as smaller ones, led to two major changes in the fledgling nation. The creation of a larger and stronger military to replace the current defense force and the decision to abandon large areas of the state and withdraw survivors and resources into a smaller zone. In the summer of 1984, Governor Bryan, with the consensus of the assembly, made the fateful decision to order the evacuations and to strip what resources could be taken with them. Vast areas of the northern, eastern, and southern parts of the state, along with such cities as as Wells, Ely, Pioche, and McGill were abandoned. Although some people chose to stay and hope for the best, many made the decision to gather their belongings and head towards the SNU zone and security. At least 10-12,000 people are estimated to have participated in what has come to be known as the “The Great Move.”

The new borders were roughly defined as running just north of Highway 80 across the northern part of Nevada to approximately Deeth; south along the Ruby Mountains and Grant Range to just east of Hiko in Lincoln County; west along Routes 375 and 6 to the old Nevada-California border; and north along the former state boundaries with the exception being those areas of Placer, El Dorado, and Nevada Counties, California east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Despite this, the SNU would continue to experience problems in enforcing its borders well into the 1990s and even to this date. Several factors would play into this, the simple fact that the former Nevada was vast and undeveloped, featuring wide open plains, valleys, and mountain ranges and the population of some 400,000 (as of 2010) was scattered throughout the region. One example of the problems the SNU would face in its earlier years was the bloody 1991 Spokane Army invasion which would leave several areas devastated before the invaders were defeated by an SNU Army led by Commander in Chief General Alexander Haig. With the progression of time and the strengthening of its military, the SNU has been able to enforce its borders and protect its population. The border issue would also have a profound impact on citizens, who would adopt the attitude of their Wild West ancestors in learning to be armed and ready to respond to any threats and casting a suspicious eye on strangers.

In regards to the issue of expansion, the SNU has taken the opinion of not being interested in creating an empire. It did however expand into portions of Alpine and Mono Counties, CA east of the Sierras in the late 1980s in order to establish a defensive line and stop invaders from southern CA. Over time, the SNU has begun to extend its control into former areas of the old Nevada with the improvement of security, as part of an overall hope to one day re-establish the old state borders. One example of this attitude has been the creation of a settlement in the old community of Pahrump to grow cotton. With the expansion of Utah into abandoned areas in the eastern part of the old state, many believe this may never happen and it might be best to accept the current situation although the hope still exists. As of 2010, the SNU officially consists of 15 states or districts.

SNU States

Enclosed below is a list of SNU states and their capitals as of 2010:

Carson: Carson City (Carson City, NV)

Churchill: Fallon (Churchill County, NV)

Douglas: Minden (Douglas County, NV)

Elko: Elko (Southeastern portion of Elko County, NV)

Eureka: Eureka (Eureka County & western edge of White Pine County, NV)

Humboldt: Winnemucca (Southeastern portion of Humboldt County, NV)

Lander - Austin (Lander County, NV)

Lincoln: Hiko (Northeastern Nye & portion of northwestern Lincoln Counties, NV)

Lyon: Yerington (Lyon County, NV)

Mineral: Schurz (Mineral County, NV)

Nye: Tonopah (Northwestern Nye County and northern Esmeralda County)

Pershing: Lovelock (Pershing County, NV)

Storey: Virginia City (Storey County, NV)

Tahoe: South Lake Tahoe (portions of Nevada, Placer and El Dorado Counties, CA east of Sierra Nevada Mountains)

Washoe: Reno (Washoe County, NV)

Foreign Affairs

More to follow...


In the first two years following Doomsday, the defense of the nation was carried out by the Sierra Nevada Defense Force (SNDF) whose numbers stood at approximately 3000. They consisted of Nevada and California National Guard personnel; members of the old US military; and retired or former military personnel. Following the Goldfield massacre in 1985, the push was made to create a larger military force which was not only concurrent with Sierra Nevada's new status as a nation, but which could provide security and protection along its borders from outside enemies. This led to the creation of the Sierra Nevada armed forces, which was divided into two areas: the Sierra Nevada Army (SNA) and Sierra Nevada Air Force (SNAF). As of 2010, the total number of the armed forces stands at 11,000 army and 1000 air force personnel.

Sierra Nevada Army

The SNA is divided into four areas: cavalry, infantry, armor and artillery, and special forces.


Because of limited availability of gasoline early on, military units guarding the borders began to utilize horses to patrol and carry out reconnaissance. Additionally, the use of horses allowed for greater mobility in traversing the unique rugged landscape of the SNU. With the official creation of the SNA, the decision was made to reintroduce the horse cavalry. Divided into five squadrons, each contains 800 troopers, broken down into four companies of 200 each. The 1st SNU Cavalry is assigned to the western border; the 2nd to the northern border with Idaho; the 3rd to the eastern border with Utah; and the 4th and 5th Cavalry to the large southern border. The cavalry operates out of forts spread out across the SNU's borders. Troopers must know how to fight mounted and dismounted. Standard issue weapons, include an assault rifle, automatic pistol, and a modified saber. Each company carries at least two machine guns and two mortars for heavy fighting. A number of units also utilize, depending on availability, RPG launchers. Communication is relegated to field radios.


Infantry comprises four battalions of 1000 soldiers each, subdivided into four companies. Each battalion is assigned to a permanent base in one of the four military regions the nation is divided into. Additionally, some companies are assigned with providing security to such regions as key rail and energy facilities. In the event of an emergency, infantry companies are dispatched to provide support to the cavalry.

Armor and Artillery

Armor consists of two battalions of 1000 each, each comprising four companies of 250. Artillery however, consists of four companies of 200 each. Weaponry is basically pre-Doomsday tanks, armored carriers and cars, and artillery which belonged to either the National Guard or US military. Beginning in the early 1990s following the clash with Spokane, the SNU instituted an ambitious plan to design and build a factory capable of producing new tanks and armored vehicles. Within two years, a factory was completed and since has produced a limited number of armored vehicles to supplement or replace aging equipment. Armor and artillery units are spread out amongst the military bases of the SNU, providing support to infantry and cavalry as needed.

Special Forces

Special forces comprise a single company of 200, broken down into eight platoons. They carry special reconnaissance, infiltration, and raids on enemy targets. Their operations are considered clandestine, with the rangers, as they are called, having done work in the lawless areas of California, Washington, and Idaho. To be serve as a member of this company, is considered a high honor.

Sierra Nevada Air Force

The Sierra Nevada Air Force consists of approximately 20 planes and is based primarily out of Reno, Fallon, South Lake Tahoe, and Elko. It is a mix of pre-war Nevada Air National Guard and US Navy warplanes and modified civilian aircraft which have been repaired over the years. Smaller single engine planes tend to make up much of the air force, by providing valuable assistance to ground units. Modified with twin machine guns and able to carry at least two bombs, they provide air support to ground units; carry out reconnaissance over large areas; and evacuate casualties to hospitals. The fighter jets, including the Phantom F4C, tend be used in situations requiring fire power heavier than what can be provided by the smaller planes. Although they do not have the same technological prowess as they did in pre-war times, they are able to take off and land; strafe ground targets; either fire missiles or drop bombs; and communicate with ground via radio.


The Nevada economy suffered a near meltdown as a result of Doomsday in that a significant portion of had been centered on the service industry, including tourism, entertainment, recreation, and gambling. In the years following, the main focus of the economy was to provide the necessary elements for survival. To this end, the SNU devoted extensive resources and manpower in these areas; however recovery was complicated because of the loss of electricity, communications, and technology as a result of EMPs. Restoration over time of these services would help to speed the process. As of 2010, the economy is primarily focused on six areas: Agriculture; forestry; animal husbandry; mining; oil and natural gas; and manufacturing. Strangely enough gambling and legalized prostitution continued to exist throughout the region and have in fact made a slow comeback.


Cornfield near Fallon, Churchill State, SNU

A significant area of the state's pre-war economy, agriculture played a vital role in rural economies even though it employed less than 2% of the population. Since the war, agriculture has emerged as a matter of survival for the population of the SNU, with the government taking all necessary steps to aid existing farms. The government and the states initiated the expansion of irrigation projects such as canals, which have enabled water to reach areas distant regions. Existing farms were expanded and new ones were established throughout all areas that could sustain agriculture, such as the Tahoe region. Terraced farming and hydroponics were introduced and many people began to keep small gardens as well in order to supplement their food supplies. The alteration in weather patterns because of the war has has helped to bring increased rainfall to the SNU which in turn has helped the desert areas to bloom and further expand and sustain farming. Because of natural arid conditions, not all areas of the nation are favorable to growing food crops and many grow hay and alfalfa to feed animals. Most farms which grow food for human consumption are located in the states of Nye, Pershing, Churchill, Lyon, Douglas, Washoe, and Tahoe. Agricultural crops consist mainly of alfalfa hay and seed, potatoes, barley, wheat, rye, oats, vegetables, mint, garlic and onions. Vegetables include corn, carrots, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans, and peppers. Fruits include apples, peaches, strawberries, and cherries.


Trees are harvested for construction and manufacturing. To prevent deforestation, the SNU has employed a vigorous agenda in planting trees.

Animal Husbandry

Cattle grazing near Genoa, Douglas State, SNU

Cattle, sheep, lambs, pigs, and turkeys are bred and raised for such items as meat, dairy products, and wool. Additionally, horses are raised in large numbers, used mostly in transportation. Oddly enough, camels are also raised, specifically in the state of Storey. They are ancestors of camels which were still in the state following the famous camel races in Virginia City, which had occurred earlier in September 1983. Although used for overland transport, they have yet to replace horses and mules.


A variety of items are mined including gold, silver, diatomite, barite, clay, gypsum, limestone, lithium, carbonate, magnetite, salt and sand and gravel. There are also several small coal mines whose output is mainly used for transportation and energy.

Oil and Natural Gas

Eagle Springs Oil Field in Railroad Valley

Drilling for oil and natural gas in Nevada first began in the 1920s, but did not pick-up in the state until after World War II. It led to the discovery of several major fields including the Trap Springs, Grant Canyon, and Blackburn in Railroad Valley. By the time of Doomsday, fields were producing between 600,000 and 800,000 barrels of oil. Realizing the significance of energy in the post-war world, Governor Bryan ordered the National Guard and Highway Patrol to secure and hold the fields and the few refining plants which were located in the state. Since that time, such areas are protected by SNU troops as a matter of national security. Drilling continues, with success in such areas as Pine Valley. Supplies are kept in state, with gasoline stocks used mainly for the military, government, and agricultural needs. With the restoration of electricity in many areas, natural gas continued to remain the main source of energy for most plants, with the remaining powered by coal.


Although a small area of the economy, it was hit hard by the loss of electricity and damage to vital electronic systems. Light manufacturing did arise over time, but did not expand in any real way until the restoration of power. Confined for the most part to the big cities such as Reno-Sparks, Tahoe, Fallon, and Carson City, manufacturing includes production of farming equipment, clothing, military supplies, and canning of food products.


In the post war world of Sierra Nevada, most people get around by horse, bus, or rail. Gasoline powered vehicles are mainly used by the government and military or in the production/transportation of food. People are not prohibited from driving, but given the limited availability of gasoline and diesel, not many do. Nonetheless, the ability and freedom to drive anywhere one could, driven especially by stories of the pre-war generations, have and continue to inspire residents, especially those on farms, to actively experiment in producing bio-fuels, mainly from farm byproducts. Given the proliferation and ready availability of horses though, most have turned to using them for local travel and short journeys. When one wishes to travel farther, the railroad is viewed as the best means available. Buses are used for transportation in the larger cities and to smaller remote towns were the railroad does not reach.


At the time of Doomsday, Nevada had a network of state and interstate highways which connected all major cities and towns. This included Interstate 80, which ran across the northern area of the state, and US Routes 6, 50, 93, 95 and 395. All these roads emerged unscathed following the war, with one exception. The strike on Hawthorne rendered part of US Route 95 impassable forcing detours via State Highway 361. In 1993, the SNU decided to re-establish this link with the decline in radiation in the region and instituted a major road building project. By 1995, the road reopened leading to renewed interest in resettling the region. These roads provide a vital ground link for transport and travel by motor vehicle or horse.


Over 2,000 miles of railroad track existed in Nevada in 1983. Most lines were located in the northern part of the state, with the remainder in the southeastern area. The majority of the tracks were owned and operated by Union Pacific Railway, who also leased them to the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Additionally, a number of smaller rail lines were in operation including Nevada Northern Railroad between Shafter and Ely and the US government operated Thorne Branch to Hawthorne. Amtrak’s Zephyr passenger train, which traveled between Chicago and Centerville, CA, passed through northern Nevada and serviced several stops. On Doomsday, most of these lines were undamaged with the exception of those in the southeast and in and around Hawthorne. Major rail yards in Sparks, Parr, Elko, and Carlin had also survived intact. Conversely, the electromagnetic pulses had burned out the solid state transistors essential to the operation of all diesel locomotives. This resulted in at least three freight trains as well as the Amtrak Zephyr being stranded on tracks.

Railroad yard in Sparks, SNU

Given the limits of post-war transportation, the SNU looked to the railroad as a viable way of moving supplies and people throughout the nation. By the fall of 1984, railroad workers had successfully repaired a number of locomotives and in turn had cleared the tracks of stranded trains. This led to the re-establishment of train service to track connected areas. One blow to rail service came in 1984, when the SNU abandoned existing rail lines in the eastern part of the nation during the "The Great Move." None the less, the SNU government announced in 1986 its determination to embark on an ambitious plan to lay new railroad tracks to previously unconnected areas. Although a difficult and grueling task, which involved workers not only manufacturing the necessary materials but having to surmount rugged terrain, by 2010 the SNU could boast of having added nearly 500 miles of track and replaced older tracks to standardize gauges.


Air travel is mostly relegated to official military or government business given limited stocks of aviation fuel. The few private planes in operation are mainly prop or propeller driven or small single engine Cessnas. The largest airfield is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, which is the sole travel stop for anyone flying in or out of Sierra Nevada. Smaller airfields are scattered across the country, the largest being Carson, Elko, Fallon, and South Lake Tahoe.


More to follow...

Communication & Arts


In an effort to preserve both the music of pre and post Doomsday, the Sierra Nevada Music Association (SNMA) was formed in 1989 in Reno, led by singers Roy Clark and Neil Sedaka. Although singers of different music styles, the two men, having been playing in Reno on Doomsday and survived, felt the need to preserve what they felt was a vital part of SNU culture. The group shows no prejudice towards any one music style, including singers and songwriters of all types of music across the nation. The group tries to preserve musical artifacts, including recordings, while promoting the expansion of the music industry.