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“The Meadows”

Las 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.

In 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.

Las 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 California 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.

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