Little Bits of History

A Cattle Trail Grows Up

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 15, 2010

Las Vegas strip (photo by Lasvegaslover)

May 15, 1905: Sin City or The Entertainment Capital of the World is established. Las Vegas, Nevada, is the largest city founded in the twentieth century. Its name is Spanish for the verdant meadows, which seems odd in the desert. However, the area supported many artesian wells that helped to make the land more fertile and explains the name.

Eons ago, in prehistory, the region that is now Las Vegas was a marsh. Over hundreds of thousands of years time, the rivers worked their way underground and only intermittently surfaced making what is called the Colorado River today. In 1829, Las Vegas was discovered by a trade caravan led by Mexican Antonio Armijo. He led the 60 men in the Las Vegas Valley after following a tributary of the River. John C, Frémont brought a group of scientists and scouts as well as observers from the US Army Corps of Engineers to the area in 1844, although it was still part of Mexico at the time. The entire region was annexed to the US in 1855 and the route became more popular.

Water from the wells began being piped into the city in the early 1900s. With water available and reliable, the small town grew. The water stop became a destination. Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911. By 1920 it had a population of 2,304. Before Nevada became a state, the area was a stopping point for The Old Spanish Trail. It then became a railroad stop. Later, with the building of Hoover Dam, it became a tourist stop. When gambling was legalized, it became even more of a tourist Mecca. The availability of alcoholic beverages as well as other adult entertainment helped to boost tourism even more.

Today, the population is over 599,087 in the 113.4 square mile [182.4 sq km] city and 1.8 million people reside in the metropolitan area. Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing regions in the US. Tourism and the casinos with all their attendant services (hotels, dining, retail) are the main source of income for the area but Nellis Air Force Base also helps to keep the city financially viable. With the influx of residents, the construction industry is also busy. Vegas sits in the middle of the Mojave Desert and it has bloomed!

“I love blackjack. But I’m not addicted to gambling. I’m addicted to sitting in a semi circle.” – Mitch Hedberg

“Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night.” – Michellee Chuck Palahniuk

“I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind.” – Steve Allen

“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Also on this day, in 1817 Friends Hospital, the first psychiatric hospital in the US, opened.

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