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Area History

Las Vegas has a history that is rich in the mystique of the Old West, the craze of the Gold Rush and the sparkle of the gambling life. There are few places on earth that can lay claim to a history this diverse and this special. If you’ve thought that Las Vegas was nothing but a dry strip of land before the casinos came in, you’re missing out on an incredible amount of this country’s history.

The very first residents were quite large and hairy and date back to prehistoric times. A recent archeological dig found the bones of wooly mammoths, as well as signs that many cultures called this area home for thousands of years. However, the city as we know it know was first started way back in the mid 1800’s. Settlers to the area were beginning the expansion into the American West, and the climate and water in the Las Vegas area convinced many to stay.

As Gold Fever hit in the 1860’s, the area saw an incredible expansion. Soon, silver was also discovered and thousands of mines, big and small, were opened in an attempt to find fame and wealth. The town owes quite a lot to miners and for a long time, this was the primary means of funding the town’s residents.

During this time, the Mormon’s began their trek West, in an effort to avoid persecution from the government. Many settled in Las Vegas and began constructing an adobe fort, part of which is still visible today. Although the current Mormon population in Nevada is less than 12 percent, much of the early settlements and structures were built by these settlers.

It wasn’t until the late 1890’s that the railroad took interest in the area. Noting the abundance of water, they planned a small tent town here. The inhabitants worked on the tracks and soon, the settlement became permanent. The first track was completed in 1904 and soon the Union Pacific railroad had their own station here.

The town continued to grow steadily during this point, and gambling was soon declared legal. For a brief period in the 1930’s it was outlawed, but in 1944, the decision was made to open the floodgates and allow all forms of gambling. Developers rushed into the area and soon the first casino was built.

As more travelers were drawn into the region, with hopes of becoming rich, much like the first miners, hotels and resorts sprang up to accommodate them. The Las Vegas Strip with the neon glare of fame would soon light up the town permanently. By the 1960’s the world’s elite, Hollywood’s finest, and even mobsters called this their second home and visited often.

Today, Las Vegas retains much of its early charm and has much to offer the traveler in the way of a rich history coupled with all of today’s latest advancements, pomp, and the chance to hit the big time.