Vegas, Nevada was given its name by Spaniards in 1829 that used
the water in the area while heading north and west along the Old
Spanish Trail from New Mexico. In the 1800s, areas of the Las
Vegas Valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive
green areas, hence the name Las Vegas, Spanish for The Meadows.
The water that had been submerged below the terrain sporadically
resurfaced and flowed into what is now the Colorado River. This
helped proliferate luxurious plant life, creating a wetland oasis
in the Mojave Desert landscape.
1865 the irrigation works started and Las Vegas was known as the
best stop on the Mormon Trail. The State Land Act of 1885 offered
land at $1.25 per acre drawing many, including farmers, to the
area. As a result, farming became the primary industry for the
next 20 years as farmers used the
wells to irrigate their crops. During the 1900s, water from the
wells was piped into the town providing a reliable source of fresh
water and providing the means for additional growth. The increased
availability of water in the town area allowed Las Vegas to become
a water stop, first for wagon trains and later railroads, on the
trail between Los Angeles, California, and points east such as
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Vegas was founded as a city in 1905 and was the driving force
in the creation of Clark County, Nevada in 1909. With U.S. Highway
91 reaching Las Vegas in 1926, Vegas were finally connected to
with a road. Work started on the Boulder Dam in 1931 and Las Vegas'
population swelled from around 5,000 citizens to 25,000, with
most of the newcomers looking for a job. The dam completed in
1935 and it was renamed “Hoover Dam”.
Las Vegas started its rise to world fame as the gambling capital
of the world. The city issued the first gambling license in 1931
to the Northern Club, and soon other casinos were licensed on
Fremont Street like the Las Vegas Club and the Apache Hotel. Fremont
Street developed its nickname as Glitter Gulch from all of the
lights that were powered by electricity from Hoover Dam. Hoover
Dam and its reservoir, Lake Mead, turned into tourist attractions
on their own and the need for additional hotels became clear.
Las Vegas became one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.
in the 1990’s.