Karen Rogers Realty Executive
A short history of the Vegas Valley
Las Vegas, which means “the meadows” in Spanish, gained its name in the 1800s when this green valley and its desert spring waters offered respite for weary travelers traversing the Old Spanish Trail on their way to California. In 1904, a construction camp for workers building a railroad from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was established in the Las Vegas Valley. The city’s official history began on May 15, 1905 when 110 acres of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned in what would become the downtown area. Las Vegas became incorporated as a city in 1911 with a population of 3,000.

During the middle of the 20th century, Las Vegas continued its triumphant march toward becoming the gambling or gaming capital of the world. The use of neon emerged, transforming Fremont Street into “Glitter Gulch”. In 1959, the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign was created by resident Betty Willis.

A pivotal year for the valley was 1931, when Nevada legalized casino gambling, liberalized the state divorce law by reducing residency requirements to six weeks and construction started on the Boulder Canyon Project, now known as Hoover Dam. Boulder City emerged as a result of the families of the construction workers moving to that area.
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