The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park
The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Park located at 500 East Washington at the intersection of North Las Vegas Boulevard. This location is only a few blocks north of downtown Las Vegas, so it is within walking distance of Fremont Street. Heritage Park, The Las Vegas Natural History Museum, The Neon Museum and Cashman Center are all close by, so plenty of quality time can be spent in this cultural section of Las Vegas.
The admission price at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is very cheap, because the idea is to attract visitors to the cultural side of this city. Guided tours are available for a few dollars more. Large groups, like a busloads of tourists, should call ahead of time to make special arrangements and large group tours do run at a separate fee rate. Special functions or events can also be arranged.
The Mormon Fort was established by Mormon missionaries in 1855. The fort became one of the first outposts in this region of the Nevada, which was once known as the Mormon Territory. Trade routes west to California, north to Utah and trails leading to mining camps, all found their way to this centrally located fort.
After the Mormon settlers abandoned the old fort site later in the 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 took place at this fort. After the local ranchers defaulted on the property the 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. Some of the original structures were well preserved, because these buildings were occupied by pioneers who helped to establish 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 Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) was being built, the Mormon Fort was occupied by dam personnel and local contractors that catered to the project. The local mob operational personnel that really got the city of Las Vegas started during the Boulder Dam project 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, all visit the Mormon Fort each year. Part of the Mormon Fort property was turned into a museum with displays of the major historical events that took place on this site. There are many unique time capsules to see of historic ages gone by. The depictions also show the lifestyle of pioneer settlers of Las Vegas before the age of electricity and automobiles, which is unimaginable by most folks in this modern age.
There is plenty to see and do at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. The Nevada State Park Guides at the site are friendly, informative and professional. Feel free to ask questions, because the rangers definitely have knowledgable answers! A gift shop is located on the site and refreshments are available. The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is a large park that covers several acres, so staying hydrated is important even when the weather cools down during the winter season.
When in Las Vegas, visiting the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is a must do! Las Vegas is not just only all about night life and gambling. There are plenty of interesting family oriented activities to be found in Las Vegas too. Visitors of all ages do take a natural interest in the old wild west and touring the preserved historic Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort presents an opportunity to step back in time!