travelgrove Travel Guides

Las Vegas History, Nevada

Spaniards were the ones who gave Las Vegas its name, and they used the water from the area while they headed west and north from Texas on the Old Spanish Trail.  During the 1800s, parts of the valley had artesian wells in them that supported the extensive areas of meadows, which is how Las Vegas got its name, as vegas means meadows in Spanish.

On May 3, 1844, John C. Frémont went to the valley of Las Vegas while the area was still a part of Mexico. Frémont was the leader of an observer, scout, and scientist group of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.  After the annexation, Brigham Young sent 30 missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the area, with William Bringhurst as their leader, on May 10, 1855.  They were to convert the population of Paiute Indian into Mormonism.  There was a fort built close to what is now the downtown area, which served as a place for travelers to stop on the Mormon Corridor.  However, the Mormons abandoned the city in 1857.

On May 15th,1905, Las Vegas was founded as a railroad town.  This was the staging point for the mines in the area, especially the ones around Bullfrog, a town that shipped goods to other parts of the country.  Las Vegas declined in importance with the rapid growth of the railroads, but the Hoover Dam's completion caused a significant growth of tourism, of which led to the building of hotels and casinos which made Las Vegas famous. The American mafia is responsible for the current reputation and status of the city, as the original casinos were either managed or funded by mob figures Meyer Lansky and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.

Gambling became legal with the opening of these casinos and with the opening of Flamingo Hotel of Bugsy Siegel, on what is now known as the Las Vegas Strip, which was named at the end of 1946. 

A variety of events affected the city, with the completion of the Hoover Dam and the testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere being conducted between 1951 and 1962 in Nevada. A hotel fire in November 1890 at the MGM Grand had a devastating effect on both the city and the state.  However, The Mirage's opening in November 1989 began the megaresort casino era.

Ask our travel experts a question about Las Vegas

Read our members' reviews about Las Vegas

  • MadSuhEnjoy yourself in Las Vegas, NV
    review by MadSuh posted more then 30 days ago
    Las Vegas is one of the best places to visit. It's one of the few destinations that offer a little bit of everything as well as a lot of extras. Besides all the gambling that people think of, there are a ton of other things to do. Whether you like magic shows or other entertainment, Vegas is for...
  • MadSuhVegas again and again
    review by MadSuh posted more then 30 days ago
    I stayed down at Isaac's place for a night down in Long Beach. He just got a new place so it was all empty. I did have some cushions and a sleeping bag:) We went out that night and some drunk guy called me fag because of the man purse I am wearing these days. Anyhow, I got over it with a smile. ...
  • travelgrove-editorLas Vegas, the Casino City
    review by travelgrove-editor posted more then 30 days ago
    Las Vegas is situated in the lower part of the state of Nevada and sits in the center of the Mojave Desert, who would have guessed to find in the desert, a city of lights, and all you can eat buffets, casinos and the ultimate city of entertainment. The skyline of Vegas is an eclectic array,...
view all

Read our members' travel tips about Las Vegas

  • MadSuhHistory in Vegas?
    travel tip by MadSuh posted more then 30 days ago
    Yeah right... not much history in Las Vegas. But then if you are looking at Vegas history, the only place really is old town Las Vegas. It's not Rome or Paris, but it offers some old style casino feeling and it's a lot of fun. There is a...
view all


Members Who Have Been to Las Vegas

Community Galleries About Las Vegas

Browse our members' Las Vegas galleries to get a better impression of the place
show alladd gallery
the best travel deals provided by TravelZoo...
  •$96Spirit Airlines flightSpirit Airlines
    Atlanta, GA (ATL)  Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
    10/26/2016 10:40 am
    Las Vegas, NV (LAS)  Atlanta, GA (ATL)
    11/02/2016 08:10 am
  •$119Spirit Airlines flightSpirit Airlines
    Oakland, CA (OAK)  Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
    10/22/2016 06:00 am
    Las Vegas, NV (LAS)  Oakland, CA (OAK)
    10/29/2016 11:16 am
  •$150Multiple Airlines flightMultiple Airlines
    San Francisco, CA (SFO)  Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
    10/24/2016 12:25 pm
    Las Vegas, NV (LAS)  San Francisco, CA (SFO)
    10/31/2016 05:35 pm

Las Vegas City Ratings

  • Rating83%
    City Rank118
  • History & Culture: rated for 79%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 100%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 74%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 75%
  • Food: rated for 86%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 88%
  • Shopping: rated for 77%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 78%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 90%
   Welcome to Travelgrove  register tell a friend bookmark it