Last day today and lots to squeeze into 24 hours. Blue skies, sunshine and warming up nicely for an afternoon by the pool. First up for the day though was some culture……….
The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is a reasonable distance north up the Las Vegas Boulevard at the junction with Washington East so Mr L was required to drive. This is the site that marks the origin of Las Vegas today.
More than 150 years ago a spring-fed creek flowed through the valley and had created an oasis here in the Mojave Desert. This was the only free flowing water and grass for miles around and attracted the Native Americans, the Paiute people, as well as traders, emigrants and gold seekers following the Old Spanish Trail to California. It was the Spanish who called the place ‘las vegas’ which is Spanish for ‘the meadows’. Then in June 1855, 30 Mormon missionaries led by William Bringhurst arrived from Utah and built a 150 foot square adobe fort – the first non-native structure in the valley. This Las Vegas Mormon Mission was an outpost halfway between Salt Lake City and Southern California; it served as a way-station for travellers, and the creek provided irrigation for the fields and orchards. Lead was then found in the mountains to the southwest but mining was not particularly succesful and was eventually abandoned. By 1857 the Mormon Mission was abandoned due to dissension around leadership.
The fort remained empty until 1865 when an Octavius D Gass bought the site and developed a large scale ranch which included a small store and a blacksmith shop to serve travellers and nearby mining communities. In 1881, Gass defaulted on a loan and lost the ranch which he had used as collateral. The ranch passed to Archibald (who had made the loan) and Helen Stewart. Archibald was killed in a gunfight in 1884 and Helen then learnt how to run and manage a ranch. She did this successfully, buying more land and expanding the ranch to over 2,000 acres. In 1902, Helen sold the ranch and the water rights to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad for $55,000. When the railroad reached this area in 1905, a new town, Las Vegas, came into existence. The Las Vegas of today expanded from this original site (the site is now part of the Nevada State Park system) and Helen Stewart is known as the ‘First Lady’ of Las Vegas.
Important factors ensured the survival and development of Las Vegas – the building of the Boulder-Hoover Dam brought money in for the dam’s construction, provided jobs and helped protect the area from the impact of the Great Depression. In 1931, Nevada legalised gambling and reduced the State’s divorce residency to 6 weeks – over the next 20 years the population of Las Vegas grew over 500%. Needless to say the original spring in the desert has long since dried up after it was diverted into the city’s water system.
It was then back to the Bellagio for an afternoon laying by the pool before packing (sad face!!) and preparing for the night ahead. Mrs L spent her $30 gambling profit on 2 nice mugs for her flat as a memento of this holiday.
One more time to go look at the fountains and volcano displays before cocktails in the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Great burgers at Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan – restaurant to go back to one day……..
……..but a bit of a rush this evening as needed to get up to MGM Hotel and their Hollywood Theatre to see the David Copperfield show. Brilliant, no idea how he does his illusions, great show.
Mr and Mrs L’s final night in the casino saw no great wins, but no great losses either. Mrs L recouped her initial $20 on the Big Six and had several extra free goes on our slot machine – sadly not anything worth cashing in. Tonight was not our jackpot night!!
Off to the airport at 9.00 to catch our 12.00 flight to Toronto and then our connection back to the UK. There will be one further blog entry once back in UK when Mrs L has completed her witterings on the trivia and facts relevant to this trip that she has found interesting.
Mr and Mrs L would like to announce that this has been one amazing holiday!