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Las Vegas History

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

The beginnings of Las Vegas Nevada can be traced back to the Mormon Church. There have been many individuals who have helped Las Vegas develop into the city it is today. Here are three of the earliest people who helped make Las Vegas what it is today.

Raphael Rivera

In 1830 Raphael Rivera is the first known person who was not an Indian to be in the area that is now known as Las Vegas. Raphael Rivera was with a party of around 60 people who were camped about 100 miles from present day Las Vegas.

A scouting party was sent off to search for water ans Raphael Rivera ventured out on his own. After Raphael Rivera separated from the other scouts he began exploring the Las Vegas desert area on his own. Raphael Rivera discovered the Las Vegas Springs.

Because of Raphael Rivera's scouting work the Spanish trail was shortened and caused an influx of people to travel through out the Las Vegas area. During this period of time Las Vegas was part of Mexico. The name Las Vegas in Spanish means "The Meadows".

John Fremont
Lt. John C. Fremont

In 1844 Lt. John C. Fremont led an Army expedition to the Las Vegas Valley. Las Vegas at this time was still part of Mexico. Lt. John C. Fremont's expedition was to lead the US Army Corps Of Engineers along with scientists and trained scouts to map out and research different areas.

In 1845 Lt. John C. Fremont's notes and map were published. 20,000 copies were printed up and emigrants everywhere started buying the information. Las Vegas was figuratively and literally put on the map by Lt. John C. Fremont.

Lt. John C. Fremont later would become the first person to ever run for President on the Republican party ticket.

William Bringhurst

William Bringhurst was a member of the Mormon Church. He was called to leave with other missionaries into the Las Vegas Valley to help teach the Indians about their Mormon Faith. William Bringhurst was a strong believer in his church. When he was called to lead the missionaries to help convert Indians in the Las Vegas Valley area they headed out as soon as possible. The Mormon caravan left in the middle of June in 1855.

The month of June was extremely hot for the Mormons to be traveling but they had faith in the lord that everything would work out and they would arrive safely.

The official mission of the Mormons as directed by Brigham Young was to teach the Las Vegas Indians how to farm but the Mormons planned on converting as many of the Indians to their religion as they could.

2 days after the Mormons arrived they began construction on a Fort. The Mormons also began talking with the Indians and established a healthy and friendly relationship. The Mormons were permitted to establish some farming land. The Indians helped the Mormons adjust to the new area and also helped with various work to be done in exchange for some of the crops.

There was a food shortage which led to some tensions between the two groups but overall relations between the Mormons and Indians was excellent.

William Bringhurst was brought a letter from the Mormon Church explaining that many of the men at the mission now needed to go do some mining work. William Bringhurst refused and continued to do missionary work. Later William Bringhurst was kicked out of the Mormon Church for failing to follow his new instructions. William Bringhurst left Las Vegas and was later allowed back into the Mormon Church.

Because of the work that William Bringhurst and the other Mormons did the local inidans in las Vegas were generally much friendlier towards white people then Indians in othe rplaces.

Las Vegas

Without the work that these 3 people did Las Vegas would never have became the city it is today. Las Vegas would of became a town but because of the people such as Raphael Rivera, John Fremont and William Bringhurst the town of Las Vegas has boomed.

Many people credit John Fremont with putting Las Vegas on the map. He did put Las Vegas on the map but without the work of Raphael Rivera 14 years prior then John Fremont may of never researched and mapped out Las Vegas leading all of the gold prospectors and emmigrants to pass through Las Vegas.

Raphael Rivera's scouting work allowed him to find the water springs. This discovery has impacted not only the early history of Las Vegas but the entire History of Las Vegas clear up to the modern day. Rivera's discovery has also impacted the development of the wast as w hole, increased the number of gold prospectors that headed west to California for the great gold rush.

The irony is that the Mormon Church that sent originally sent William Bringhurst and the other LDS missionaries into the Las Vegas Valley would also be large reason for Las Vegas being the entertainment capitol of the world. Members of the Mormon church do not gamble, drink, smoke, or hire prostitutes. The same Church that does not believe in the vices of Sin City are in large part a reason Las Vegas was able to build up into a city and eventually allow legalized gambling.

The Mormon church has many churches in the Las Vegas area as well as a temple. Las Vegas actually has a large number of Mormons that live in Las Vegas. The early missionary work of William Bringhurst was important to the relationships that it developed with the Indians. Because of the healthy relationships that fostered other white people where able to movie into the Las Vegas Valley and help settle the area into a town. Because of the early missionary work the LDS church did in Las Vegas the town was able to grow from a dusty watering post along a trail into a successful city.

You can still see a few remnants of the original Fort that William Bringhurst and the other Mormon missionaries built. The Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park is located at 500 E Washington Street and is the location of the original Las Vegas Mormon Fort.

Very little remains of the original Mormon Fort but what is left stands as a tribute to the men and women who helped forge a remote watering hole into one of the Greatest cities in the world.



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