Pre 1899 Did You Know Las Vegas

Pre 1899, The Roots of Las Vegas: A Journey Through Time

The Good Old Days Pre 1899

Step back into the days before bright neon lights and bustling casinos took center stage. In this captivating exploration of Las Vegas before 1899, unearth the city's hidden past, a time of pioneering spirits and transformative events. From the earliest native settlements to the arrival of Spanish explorers, every fact reveals a fascinating story of survival and evolution. As you delve into this treasure trove of historical gems, prepare to be transported to an era where every chapter holds the intrigue of discovery and the thrill of uncharted territories.

Las Vegas’ Untold Beginnings: Unveiling a Rich Heritage

Immerse yourself in the untold beginnings of Las Vegas, a period marked by landmark discoveries and cultural shifts. This curated collection of facts not only enhances your knowledge but also offers a unique perspective on the city’s rich heritage. Whether you are a history enthusiast or a curious traveler, these revelations promise to deepen your appreciation of Las Vegas. And don’t forget to explore the subsequent eras (1900-1949, 1950-1999, and 2000-2023) to witness the changes of a humble desert valley into a world-renowned entertainment capital.


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(1-50) 1899 and Before Did You Know...

First Mormon Settlers (1855): A group of Mormon settlers led by William Bringhurst arrived and built the first permanent structures, including a fort, in what would become Las Vegas.

Establishment of Fort Baker (1864): During the Civil War, Fort Baker was established by Union troops in the Las Vegas area.

Octavius D. Gass Takes Over (1865): Octavius D. Gass took over the Mormon settlement and began operating it as the “Los Vegas Rancho.”

Nevada Statehood (1864): Nevada became a state on October 31, 1864. Las Vegas, however, remained a small settlement at this time.

Helen J. Stewart Becomes First Postmaster (1893): Helen J. Stewart, an important figure in early Las Vegas history, became the first postmaster in 1893.

Sale of the Las Vegas Rancho (1881): Gass defaulted on a loan and lost the Las Vegas Rancho, which was then acquired by Archibald Stewart in 1881.

Murder of Archibald Stewart (1884): Archibald Stewart was killed in a land dispute, leaving his wife, Helen Stewart, to manage the Las Vegas Rancho.

Helen Stewart Sells Rancho (1902): In 1902, Helen J. Stewart sold the Las Vegas Rancho to the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, leading to the auction that founded modern Las Vegas.

First School Established (1879): Las Vegas’s first school was established in 1879, highlighting the growing permanence of the community.

Paiute Reservation Established (1873): The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe was granted a reservation in 1873, reflecting the changing dynamic between Native Americans and settlers.

Arrival of the Railroad (1905): Although just after 1900, the arrival of the railroad in 1905 was a pivotal moment for Las Vegas, sparking rapid growth and development.

First Telegraph (1905): The first telegraph line reached Las Vegas in 1905, the same year the city was officially founded.

Silver Mining Boom (Late 1800s): The late 1800s saw a silver mining boom in Nevada, impacting the Las Vegas area.

Creation of Clark County (1909): The area that includes Las Vegas became part of the newly created Clark County in 1909.

Early Ranching and Farming (Late 1800s): The late 1800s were marked by the growth of ranching and farming in the Las Vegas Valley, utilizing the area’s artesian wells.

Development of Water Rights Law (Late 1800s): Conflicts over water rights in the late 1800s led to the development of Nevada’s water rights law, crucial for the arid region.

Gold Mining in Southern Nevada (Late 1800s): The discovery of gold in southern Nevada in the late 1800s brought prospectors and miners to the region, impacting Las Vegas.

First Telephone Exchange (1907): The first telephone exchange in Las Vegas was established in 1907, improving communication in the growing town.

Stewart Family Ranch (1880s-1902): The Stewart family’s ranch played a significant role in the early development of the Las Vegas area.

First Major Flood (1905): A major flood in 1905, the year Las Vegas was founded, reshaped parts of the landscape in the valley.

Early Land Auctions (1905): The land auctions of 1905, held by the railroad, officially marked the founding of Las Vegas as a city.

Las Vegas as a Railroad Town (1905): The establishment of Las Vegas as a railroad town in 1905 set the stage for its development as a major city.

Nevada’s Water Law Reform (Late 1800s): The late 1800s saw significant reforms in Nevada’s water law, impacting settlement and development in Las Vegas.

Paiute War (1860): The Paiute War of 1860 was an early conflict between Native American tribes and settlers in the region.

First Non-Native American Settlements (Late 1800s): The late 1800s saw the first non-Native American settlements in the Las Vegas area, primarily for ranching and farming.

Surveying of the Las Vegas Valley (1844): John C. Fremont, an explorer mapping the Western United States, visited the Las Vegas Valley in 1844, providing some of the first detailed descriptions of the area.

Mormon Fort Established (1855): Mormon settlers established a fort in present-day downtown Las Vegas in 1855 as a midway point along the route to the Pacific Coast.

First Non-Native American Settlement (1855): The establishment of the Mormon Fort marked the first significant non-Native American settlement in the Las Vegas Valley.

San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (1905): This railroad company, which played a pivotal role in the development of Las Vegas, was founded in 1905.

Las Vegas Post Office (1893): Las Vegas’s first post office was opened in 1893, with Helen J. Stewart serving as the first postmistress.

Las Vegas’ First Store (1855): The first store in Las Vegas was established at the Mormon Fort in 1855, serving the needs of the settlers and travelers.

The Paiute War (1860): In 1860, the Paiute War, also known as the Pyramid Lake War, occurred, which involved the Paiute tribe and impacted the wider region including the Las Vegas area.

Stewart Family Homestead (1884): After the death of Archibald Stewart in 1884, his wife, Helen Stewart, became one of the most influential figures in early Las Vegas history, managing the family’s ranch.

First Las Vegas Schools (1879): The first school in Las Vegas was established in 1879, highlighting the growing settlement in the area.

First Telephone Line (1907): Las Vegas’s first telephone line was installed in 1907, just two years after the city was officially founded.

Rafael Rivera’s Exploration (1829): Rafael Rivera, part of a Spanish trading party, was possibly the first European to explore the valley, leading to its naming.

Clark County Formed (1909): Although just outside the specified timeframe, the formation of Clark County in 1909 significantly impacted the development of Las Vegas.

Gass’s Takeover of the Mormon Fort (1865): Octavius D. Gass acquired and operated the old Mormon Fort as the “Las Vegas Rancho” in 1865.

First Significant Flood (1905): In 1905, a major flood reshaped the landscape of the Las Vegas Valley, affecting the newly established city.

Gold and Silver Boom Impact (Late 1800s): The gold and silver boom in Nevada in the late 1800s brought an influx of miners and settlers to the area, impacting Las Vegas.

Arrival of Mormon Missionaries (1855): The arrival of a group of Mormon missionaries in 1855 marked a significant early development in the area’s history.

First Recorded Land Sale (1905): The first recorded land sale in what would become downtown Las Vegas occurred in 1905, marking the city’s official founding.

Early Ranching Activities (Late 1800s): Ranching was one of the earliest economic activities in the Las Vegas area, with settlers utilizing the valley’s water sources.

Settlement by Paiute Tribe (Before 1800s): The Southern Paiute tribe was settled in the area long before the arrival of European settlers, with a history dating back centuries.

Nevada’s Admission to the Union (1864): Nevada’s statehood in 1864, amidst the Civil War, laid the groundwork for the future development of the entire region, including Las Vegas.

First Major Roadways (Late 1800s): The late 1800s saw the establishment of the first major roadways through the Las Vegas area, facilitating travel and commerce.

Impact of Spanish Exploration (1800s): Spanish explorers in the 1800s had a significant impact on the Las Vegas area, with their routes and names influencing the region.

Early Water Rights Disputes (Late 1800s): Water rights became a critical issue in the late 1800s, as settlers and ranchers sought to utilize the valley’s scarce water resources.

Growth of Agriculture (Late 1800s): The presence of artesian wells allowed for the development of agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley in the late 1800s, shaping the area’s early economy.

First Religious Services (1850s): The first religious services

(51-100) 1899 and Before Did You Know...

First Major Settlement (Early 1800s): The area that would become Las Vegas saw its first major settlement by Native American tribes, notably the Paiutes, in the early 1800s.

Exploration by Antonio Armijo (1829-1830): Spanish trader Antonio Armijo led a 60-man party along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles, the first European exploration that passed through the Las Vegas Valley.

Mexican Independence (1821): The region, including Las Vegas, became part of Mexico following its independence from Spain in 1821.

Las Vegas as Part of the Mexican Territory (1821-1848): From 1821 until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, Las Vegas was under Mexican jurisdiction.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848): This treaty ended the Mexican-American War and ceded the Las Vegas area to the United States.

Establishment of the Old Spanish Trail (1830s): The Old Spanish Trail, used for trading between New Mexico and California, ran through the Las Vegas Valley.

First American Wagons (1830s): The first American wagons to pass through Las Vegas Valley were part of a trading caravan along the Old Spanish Trail in the 1830s.

Mormon Influence in the Region (1850s): The influence of the Mormon Church extended into the Las Vegas area in the 1850s, with the establishment of the Mormon Fort.

First Non-Mormon Settlers (Late 1800s): Non-Mormon settlers began moving into the Las Vegas area in the late 1800s, drawn by the potential for agriculture and ranching.

Development of Farming and Ranching (Late 1800s): The Las Vegas Valley’s natural artesian springs supported the development of farming and ranching operations in the late 19th century.

First Recorded Non-Native Visitor (1826): Jedediah Smith, a fur trapper, was possibly the first non-Native American to visit the Las Vegas area in 1826.

Growth of Native American Trade (Early 1800s): Before European settlement, the Las Vegas area was a center for Native American trade, thanks to its water resources.

First Land Plots (1905): The first land plots in what would become downtown Las Vegas were auctioned off in 1905, marking the beginning of formal city planning.

Advent of the Stagecoach Era (1860s): The 1860s saw the introduction of stagecoach lines passing through the Las Vegas area, improving transportation and communication.

Impact of Mining Discoveries (1859): The discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859 brought prospectors through the Las Vegas Valley.

Las Vegas as a Railroad Division Point (1905): In 1905, Las Vegas was established as a division point for the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad.

First Law Enforcement (Late 1800s): As the area’s population grew, the late 1800s saw the introduction of formal law enforcement in Las Vegas.

First Churches and Schools (Late 1800s): The establishment of the first churches and schools in the late 1800s indicated the growing stability and community development in Las Vegas.

The Stewart Family’s Land (1880s-1902): The Stewart family played a pivotal role in the early development of Las Vegas through their landholdings from the 1880s until 1902.

Introduction of Modern Agriculture (Late 1800s): Advances in irrigation and farming techniques in the late 1800s allowed for more sophisticated agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley.

First Permanent Buildings (1855): The Mormon settlers constructed the first permanent buildings in Las Vegas in 1855, including a fort and adobe houses.

Las Vegas as a Rest Stop (1800s): Throughout the 1800s, the Las Vegas area served as a rest and resupply stop for travelers heading to California.

First Major Flood (1905): The major flood of 1905 reshaped the landscape and was a significant event in the valley’s early development.

Ranching Boom (Late 1800s): The late 1800s saw a ranching boom in the Las Vegas Valley, driven by the availability of water and grazing land.

Diverse Cultural Influences (1800s): Throughout the 1800s,

1849 – Old Spanish Trail: Las Vegas was a rest stop for traders on the Old Spanish Trail between New Mexico and California.

1851 – Mormon Fort Established: The first permanent non-Native American settlement, a Mormon fort, was established in the Las Vegas Valley.

1855 – First Irrigation System: The Mormon settlers constructed some of the first irrigation ditches, transforming parts of the valley into farmland.

1857 – Fort Abandoned: The Mormon Fort was abandoned by the settlers due to harsh living conditions and conflicts with local Native American tribes.

1861 – Creation of Nevada Territory: The Nevada Territory was created in 1861, which included the Las Vegas area.

1864 – Nevada Statehood: Nevada was admitted as the 36th state to the Union on October 31, 1864, with Las Vegas as part of the new state.

1865 – Las Vegas Rancho: Octavius D. Gass acquired the old Mormon Fort and land, establishing the Las Vegas Rancho.

1870s – First Non-Mormon Settlers: The 1870s saw an influx of miners and farmers settling in the Las Vegas area.

1881 – The Stewart Ranch: Archibald Stewart acquired the Las Vegas Rancho in 1881, which later became known as the Stewart Ranch.

1884 – Stewart’s Death: Archibald Stewart was killed in a land dispute in 1884, leaving the ranch to his wife, Helen Stewart.

Late 1880s – Mining Boom Influence: The mining boom in other parts of Nevada indirectly impacted the development of Las Vegas in the late 1880s.

1890 – Helen Stewart, a Prominent Figure: Helen Stewart became a prominent figure in the Las Vegas area, known for her community involvement and business acumen.

1890s – Development of Agriculture: The 1890s saw a growth in agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley, utilizing the available water resources.

1893 – Las Vegas’ First Post Office: Helen Stewart became the postmaster of Las Vegas’s first post office in 1893.

Late 1890s – Ranching Expansion: The late 1890s witnessed an expansion in ranching in the Las Vegas Valley, shaping its early economy.

1897 – First Schoolhouse: The first dedicated schoolhouse in Las Vegas was built in 1897.

1899 – First Telephone Line: The Las Vegas Valley got its first telephone line, connecting it to the wider region.

1849 – Gold Rush Effect: The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought a significant number of travelers through the Las Vegas area.

1855 – Las Vegas’ First Crop Harvest: The first crops were harvested by the Mormon settlers, marking the beginning of organized agriculture in the valley.

1863 – First Major Silver Discovery: Major silver discoveries in Nevada in 1863 influenced the economic development of the entire region, including Las Vegas.

1875 – Paiute Reservation: The Las Vegas Paiute Colony was established in 1875, providing a designated area for the local Native American tribe.

1880 – Arrival of the Railroad Surveyors: The 1880s saw the arrival of railroad surveyors, foreshadowing the future importance of railroads to Las Vegas.

1890 – Las Vegas’ First Mercantile Store: The first general store opened in Las Vegas in the 1890s, becoming a central part of community life.

1898 – Spanish-American War Impact: The Spanish-American War in 1898 led to increased military movements in the region, indirectly affecting Las Vegas.

1849 – Spanish Trail Trade: Throughout 1849, the Old Spanish Trail through Las Vegas continued to be a crucial trade route between New Mexico and California.


As we all know, Las Vegas is a 24/7 city.  To list highlights of decades to a small list is really an injustice.  Space is limited. However, if you think we left an important date out of our list, please click the contact button below and share your information. Thank you.

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