Key Pittman, U.S. Senator

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Key Denson Pittman

Birthplace: Vicksburg, Warren, MS, United States
Death: November 10, 1940 (68)
Reno, Washoe, NV, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Hon. William Buckner Pittman and Catherine Pittman
Husband of Mimosa Pittman
Brother of William Buckner Pittman; Franklin King Pittman and Vail M. Pittman, Governor

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About Key Pittman, U.S. Senator

Key Denson Pittman (September 19, 1872 – November 10, 1940) was a United States Senator from Nevada. He was a Democrat.

Pittman was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1872 and was educated by private tutors and at the Southwestern Presbyterian University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He studied law, then later became a lawyer. In 1897, he joined in the Klondike Gold Rush and worked as a miner until 1901. Pittman moved to Tonopah, Nevada, in 1902 and continued the practice of law. He represented Nevada at the St. Louis Exposition, the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, and the irrigation congress. In 1910, he made an unsuccessful run for the Senate. Later, he was elected as a Democrat to the Senate in 1913 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of George S. Nixon, and served until his death in 1940. Between 1933 and 1940 he was the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations and was also a member of the Committee on Territories and the Committee on Industrial Expositions. In addition, during those years Pittman was President pro tempore of the United States Senate.

Among his legislation is the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 which set up a formula for federal sharing of ammunition tax revenue for establishing state wildlife areas. The program is still in effect. The Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area near Hiko, Nevada, which encompasses the Frenchy and Nesbitt Lakes, is named in his honor.

Pittman "On Ice"

It was rumored for years that he died before his final election in 1940, and that party leaders kept his body on ice in a hotel bathtub until he was re-elected; this story has been disproven. In fact, he suffered a severe heart attack before the election, and died after the election at the Washoe General Hospital in Reno, Nevada.

His brother, Vail M. Pittman, served as the Governor of Nevada.

Several pieces of legislation bore his name, including the Pittman Act of 1918 and the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.

The Pittman section of the Alaska Railroad, more commonly known today as the community of Meadow Lakes west of Wasilla, was also named for him. Pittman Road runs north from its intersection with the George Parks Highway at "downtown" Meadow Lakes.

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Key Pittman, U.S. Senator's Timeline

September 19, 1872
Vicksburg, Warren, MS, United States
November 10, 1940
Age 68
Reno, Washoe, NV, United States