Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort
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One hundred and fifty years ago, a spring-fed creek flowed through this valley, creating an oasis in the desert. With only free-flowing water and grass for miles around, it attracted the native Paiute people as well as traders, emigrants and gold seekers traveling the Old Spanish Trail to California. The Spaniards called the place Las Vegas B The Meadows.
In June of 1855, William Bringhurst and 29 fellow Mormon missionaries from Utah arrived at this site and began construction of a 150-foot square adobe fort, the first permanent structure erected in the valley. The Mormon outpost, complete with post office, served as a way station for travelers. The creek provided irrigation for fields and orchards. Lead was later discovered in the mountains to the southwest, and the mission was expanded to include mining and smelting, but the effort proved unsuccessful.
After less than 2 years, the Mormon effort was abandoned after dissension arose between two of the local leaders, adding to discouragement of many in the group with the hot summer climate. In 1865, Octavious D. Gass bought the site and developed a large-scale ranch that included a small store and blacksmith shop to serve travelers and produce for nearby mining communities.
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