The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Park is only a few blocks north of downtown Fremont Street in Las Vegas, so it is within walking distance of this famous tourism corridor. The Heritage Park, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Neon Museum and Cashman Center are all close by, so plenty of quality time can be spent in this Las Vegas cultural area. The admission price at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is bargain in modern times, because the idea is to attract visitors to the cultural side of this city.
The old Las Vegas Fort was established by Mormon missionaries in 1855. The fort was one of the first outposts in this region, which was known as the Mormon Territory way back then. Trade routes west to California, north to Utah and trails leading to mining camps all found their way to this centrally located fort. As can be imagined, this little outpost played a major role in settling this region.
After the Mormon settlers tamed this region and outpost strongholds became a thing of the past, the old fort no longer served a purpose and it was abandoned in the late 1800s. Local ranchers used the fort as headquarters and the small town of Las Vegas started to develop. This region was lawless back then and old west gunfights actually took place at this fort. After the local ranchers defaulted on the property, the old fort fell into the hands of a new owner named Helen Stewart, who became the first lady of Las Vegas after she successfully turned the fort into a busy stagecoach stop. The first post office of Las Vegas was established at this fort, which put this small community on the map.
Not all of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort structures survived through the years, because the original buildings were made out of adobe, which easily erodes. The original structures that remain were occupied by the pioneers and ranchers that established Las Vegas back in the early days. Portions of the fort walls and towers were pretty much relegated as being useless by then, so they were allowed to crumble apart.
During the Great Depression when the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) project was underway, the Mormon Fort was occupied by managerial personnel and local contractors. The local mob had much better accommodations in the casino hotels that they owned downtown, so it was easy to see where the real money was at. Fortunately, during the New Deal Era of the Great Depression recovery years, importance was placed upon preserving historic old American structures for future generations. As a result, the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort eventually became registered as a National Historical Site.
The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is now a well maintained symbol of old west history. Local residents, schools, reenactment societies, tourists and Mormons interested in their heritage visit this old outpost each year. Part of the Mormon Fort property was turned into a museum with displays of major historical events that took place on this site. For most visitors, the lifestyle of pioneer settlers before the age of ice cold air conditioning is practically unimaginable in this modern age!
There is plenty to see and do at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort and the Nevada State Park Guides at the site are friendly, informative and professional. Feel free to ask questions, because the rangers definitely have the answers! A gift shop is located on the site and refreshments are available too. Those who take a natural interest in the old wild west will cherish the opportunity to step back in time at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort!
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