While the city may now be overrun with casinos, hotels and garish neon signs, it does have a past which wasn’t quite so cheap and colourful. Las Vegas is a relatively young city with a history dating from 1829. The first person to visit the area was a young Mexican scout who was making his way to Los Angeles and set out in search of water. He discovered the oasis in the middle of the surrounding desert and the area became known as Las Vegas, the Spanish for ‘the Meadows’. The water he found there shortened the trail from Mexico to Los Angeles and so became a stopping point for all the travellers making the journey. In 1855, Mormon settlers were sent from Salt Lake City to colonise the valley but left again two years later. Part of their fort still stands today and provides a little bit of culture in a city which many would regard as lacking in this particular attribute.
It wasn’t until 1904, however, that the area really took off when the railroad reached the valley. Las Vegas then became a small watering hole with a few hotels, restaurants and saloons. By the early 1940s, the town had several luxury hotels and a dozen or so small clubs. In 1941 a gentleman by the name of Thomas Hull decided to take one of his string of motor inns to just outside Vegas’s city limits. El Rancho had one hundred rooms and was a western styled casino complete with swimming pool. The success of the venue was responsible for the building of the Last Frontier Hotel just down the road. And, this is how the Strip that we have come to know today was born. From humble beginnings to a city like no other in the world. Wouldn’t Thomas Hull be proud!