More than 150 years ago, a spring-fed creek flowed through the Las Vegas Valley, creating an oasis in the desert. With the only free-flowing water and grass for miles around, the site attracted the native Paiute, as well as traders, emigrants and gold seekers traveling the Old Spanish Trail to California. The Spaniards called the place Las Vegas, which is Spanish for “the meadows”. By the 1830s, the meadows of Las Vegas had become an important stop on the Old Spanish Trail. The Las Vegas springs and creek, which flowed along the southern boundary of the modern site, proved to be a very welcome amenity for those passing through. Mormon travelers began passing through the meadows of Las Vegas almost immediately after settling Northern Utah, due to the need to procure supplies from Southern California.
Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, the first permanent, non-native settlement in the Las Vegas Valley, features the historic remains of an adobe fort built by Mormon missionaries along a spring-fed creek in 1855. The creek provided irrigation for fields and orchards and the 150-square-foot outpost served as a way station for travelers. Today, the Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park is located in what is now downtown Las Vegas. In addition to the fort, which contains a multitude of historic artifacts, a visitor center contains exhibits and photos that illustrate the history of the site. The park and visitor center are open from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, year-round. For more information call (702) 486-3511.