Las Vegas History  
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A Brief Las Vegas History:

History .. please don't quote me but ,,,
... Las Vegas was officially founded in May 15, 1905 as a watering hole for travelers on the way to Los Angeles or to parts east of here. Centrally located in the southwest quadrant of the US, Las Vegas was ideal as a transportation hub as it also had plenty water.

In the past century, Las Vegas went through several growth spurts which in the beginning were mostly influenced by outside factors. Then at some point along the way Las Vegas became its own architect. Early on an outcast among cities Las Vegas has become the place where not everything you hear about it is true and all those others things you've heard couldn't possibly be all be lies.

Las Vegas began as a contradiction. It lies in the middle of one of the driest deserts in the world and it has enough water to support a railroad stop and later, a small city. Within just over 5 years however, on October 1, 1910, the Nevada legislature passed a set of rather unfortunate anti-gambling laws which went so far as to prohibited 'coin flipping'. Compare that to now where Las Vegas has a staggering 200,000+ casino slots machines in over 1700 licensed gambling establishments and only a million and a half residents. These slots range from classic penny slots to huge machines that give progressive jackpots.

Undeterred, Las Vegas quickly subverted these laws. Gamblers in Las Vegas pioneered the 'speakeasy' style of operation where patrons had to know passwords to get in to 'underground' games.

Finally, in March 19, 1931 the Nevada legislature changed its mind. One month later, the City of Las Vegas Issued 6 gambling licenses. (1) The intent was to use gaming taxes to fund education which it has since then. In fact, since then the introduction of gaming into most other states is rationalized on the basis if its contribution to education funding.

The timing was perfect because also in 1931, the Black Canyon Project began. At its peak, the work force employed by Hoover Dam was over 5,100 people. The repeal of the 18th amendment the stage was set for Las Vegas to begin its new future. All the right elements were in place, legalized gambling, alcohol and a perfect market for those things nearby.

Divorce laws became a model for future laws in other places but until then they spawned a 'quickie' divorce industry which brought many temporary residents to Las Vegas and Reno. They often stayed in places referred to as 'dude' ranches. A 'dude ranch' is of course a 'fancy' place in the local vernacular of that time. Amenities were provided which attracted well-to-do clients seeking to be unattached from their mates.

All good things must come to an end and unfortunately Hoover Dam was one of those projects that finished ahead of schedule. Great for the country but not really good news locally.

However, Las Vegas had grown from a population of 5,165 in 1930 to 8,422 by 1940 and prospered during the late years of the Great Depression.

With the outbreak of World War II, Las Vegas again became a valuable contributor to the welfare of the nation. Because of its isolation, readily available water, cheap power, raw materials and great weather and centralized location, Las Vegas became a focus the Defense Department and the Defense Industry.

Construction was already under way 3 months before the outbreak of WW II. for the giant Basic Magnesium Plant which was to be completed in 2 years and ultimately employing even more people than the Hoover Dam project. The plant was built in a place called 'Midway City' because it was midway between Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. (2)

That place was renamed Henderson in March 1942 and now has a population of over 200,000 residents.

The Nellis Gunnery Range evolved into what is today the premier fighter pilot school in the world.

The Nevada Test Site was America's nuclear testing ground.


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