Founding of Las Vegas

Las Vegas (English: “The Meadows”) was named by Spaniards in the Antonio Armijo party, who used the water in the area while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. In the 1800s, areas of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas or meadows (vegas in Spanish), hence the name Las Vegas.

John C. Frémont traveled into the Las Vegas Valley on May 3, 1844, while it was still part of Mexico. He was a leader of a group of scientists, scouts and observers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On May 10, 1855, following annexation by the United States, Brigham Young assigned 30 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by William Bringhurst to the area to convert the Paiute Indian population to Mormonism. A fort was built near the current downtown area, serving as a stopover for travelers along the “Mormon Corridor” between Salt Lake and the briefly thriving colony of “saints” at San Bernardino, California. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres (44.5 ha) owned by Montana Senator William A. Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, was auctioned off in what is now downtown Las Vegas. Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1909 when it became part of the newly established Clark County. The St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church near 4th and Bridger in downtown was founded in 1910.[3]Las Vegas became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911.

Gambling was legalized on March 19, 1931 in the city and the opening of Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel on what would become the Las Vegas Strip on December 26, 1946. Various events have had an impact on the city. The Hoover Dam was completed on October 9, 1936 and atmospheric nuclear testing was conducted at the Nevada Test Site (1951 to 1962). On November 21, 1980 a Hotel fire at the MGM Grand, devastated the city and State of Nevada. On November 22, 1989 the opening of The Mirage began the era of megaresort casinos.


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