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city, Washoe county, in northwestern Nevada, U.S., on the Truckee River. Adjacent to Reno and part of the Reno-Sparks distribution centre, it is mainly residential. Originally named Harriman for the railroad company's president, Sparks was founded in 1904 as a switching yard and repair centre for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was almost immediately renamed Sparks in honour of Nevada Governor John T. Sparks, whose ranch was nearby and who unsuccessfully opposed legislation to regulate the railroad's tariffs. The town grew slowly until the early 1950s, when a postwar building boom saw its conversion into a suburb of nearby Reno. At the turn of the 21st century, Sparks was Nevada's fourth largest city. Inc. 1905. Pop. (1970) 24,187; (1990) 53,367; (2000) 66,346.