Searchlight is a census-designated place (CDP) in Clark County, Nevada, that extends north and south from the community of Searchlight at the topographic saddle between two mountain ranges.
According to Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who has written extensively about his hometown, the most likely story as to how the town received its name was when George Frederick Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897 he supposedly said that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore there. Shortly thereafter he found gold, leading to a boom era when Searchlight had a larger population than Las Vegas. At the time, it was in Lincoln County, Nevada. As talk surfaced for carving Clark County, Nevada out of Lincoln County, Searchlight was initially considered to be the county seat. Between 1907 and 1910 the gold mines produced $7 million in gold and other precious minerals and the town had a population of about 1,500.
Other stories on the origin of the name include a story that Colton was lighting a Searchlight brand of matches when he discovered the gold ore. Reid dismisses this story saying that the Searchlight matches were not available in 1898. Yet another story says that Colton thought the area would be a good place because it was on a hill. Colton's mine was called the Duplex because the gold ore was found on two levels.