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LAS VEGAS HISTORY - HISTORY OF LAS VEGAS NEVADA

Las Vegas HistoryLas Vegas History – In 1829 Mexican trader Antonio Armijo was leading a party along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles. After finding himself off the regular route, he sent scouts out to find water. One, Rafael Rivera, went even further into the unexplored desert and found Las Vegas springs. This was the beginning of the modern city of Las Vegas, Nevada. The name means “the meadows” in Spanish.

The discovery of water at Las Vegas shortened the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles, as the abundant artesian spring water allowed the trail to go through the Nevada desert, rather than go for hundreds of miles around. The discovery eased rigors for Spanish traders and hastened the California gold rush.

Las Vegas’ place on the mail route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles prompted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to send settlers to build a fort in order to protect the trail. In 1855 work was begun on what is now know as the Old Mormon Fort. The settlers planted fruit trees and mined lead for bullets. However, raids by Native Americans forced them to abandon the fort in 1858.

In 1864, during the Civil War, Nevada was admitted as a state. Because it was admitted during the war, its nickname is “The Battle Born State.” 40 years later, in 1904, the first railroad grade was begun in Las Vegas. Railroad tycoons saw the potential of the town as an excellent stop. Previously a town mostly of tents, Las Vegas bloomed into a city with saloons, boarding houses and stores.

In 1910, Las Vegas became the last state in the Union to Outlaw Gambling. Even the long-held Western tradition of flipping a coin to determine the price of a drink was made illegal. Within three weeks of the law’s enactment, underground casinos and gambling houses were in full swing. Illegal but accepted gambling continued to flourish until 1931, when a law was enacted to legalize gambling so that the state could profit from this prolific industry. To this day, Las Vegas is the only state where gambling has actually helped education.

Las Vegas Hoover DamLas Vegas residents avoided the worst of the hardships associated with the Great Depression. The railroad, the construction of Hoover Dam and the gambling industry provided a relatively steady income source for southern Nevada. During WWII, Nellis Air Force Base was built in Las Vegas, and further added to the region’s economy.

The Famous Strip came into being during the 1940s. The El Rancho Hotel enjoyed great success, as it was built along the highway to Los Angeles. Other hotel establishments quickly followed suit, making this stretch of highway a haven for travellers and gamblers. All of the old hotels are gone now. The only original hotel name that survived is the Flamingo, built by notorious mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and the Flamingo isn’t anything like Siegel’s Flamingo.

The history of entertainment in Las Vegas goes back to the founding of the EL Rancho. Over the years famous acts booked to entertain Las Vegas crowds include the Rat Pack, Elvis, Buddy Hackett and others. Today Las Vegas entertainers include the annual Divas concert as well as headliners like Britney Spears, Elton John, Wayne Newton and Celine Dion.

The bright lights and mega-resorts would look alien to the earlier residents of Las Vegas, but the gambling still remains, as does Las Vegas’s no holds barred atmosphere.