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The Battle of the Early Las Vegas Town Plots

By Edited May 25, 2016 0 0

From early explorers to the Mormons the areas now know as Las Vegas has never been entirely vacant. There was seemingly always somebody passing through this desolate area but most of the time they were on their way to somewhere else. The Mormons built a Fort in current day Las Vegas and attempted to cohabitate with the Indians who were Native to the area. By 1857 the Mormons had officially abandoned their fort have only a couple of years; however, a few Mormons stayed in the Area and the Mormon presence in Vegas has been steady ever since.

Las Vegas 1904

A few people bought some land in the area but it was not until Canadian T. McWilliams that Las Vegas begun to develop into an actual town. He had worked for the rail-road and knew a lot of people. He had friends in the place and it was through his connections with the railroad that he discovered that the construction  planned to build a small town in Las Vegas. 

He used his inside knowledge of the plans and purchased 80 acres of land. John T. McWilliams was going to beat the rail-road at establishing the first town. He knew when the railroad announced their plans that it would increase the property values and put up a high demand for the lots he owned. If the rail-road did not build, well there was still a rail-road stop and the railroad employees would need places. T. McWilliams did not limit his foresight in the construction and layout of the plots because he knew how to market directly to the general public, even if they had never been to the area before. At this point in time most people had not ever been to the Las Vegas area.

The rail-road ended up building another section of town plots but John T. McWilliams was able to sell most of his lots already. He did this by marketing his lots as the real town site by the rail-road tracks. The problem though is that land did not have access to the water rights like the railroad did. Eventually the railroad auctioned of about 3,000 lots located in and around the railroad tracks.

Eventually the town site started by John burned to the ground. Before a lot of the buildings burned down many of the people who lived there were already moving down and living on the lots near the railroad. The lots sold by were practically worthless at this point and the Westside of Las Vegas would rarely be used until black people begun settling there.

In the end the rail-road plots around the tracks won out over the lots of John T. McWilliams. Although the initial pots are the heart of Las Vegas still to this day, the John lots are still a vital part of the town.

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