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Just north of downtown Las Vegas lies the first permanently settled portion of the Las Vegas Valley, where a group of Mormon missionaries set up camp along the Las Vegas Creek in 1885. Drawn to this spring-fed creek that flowed through the valley, these early settlers took advantage of this oasis in the desert as it was the only free-flowing water and grass for miles.
In June of 1855, William Bringhurst and 29 of his fellow Mormon missionaries arrived at this site and built a 150-square adobe fort, which was the very first permeant structure erected in the valley. While this Mormon outpost provided irrigation for field and orchards, it also served as a post office and way station for weary travelers making their way West. After less than two years, the Mormon effort was abandoned and in 1865, Octavius D. Gass purchased the site. He then developed a large-scale ranch which included a blacksmith shop and small outpost which provided goods to the nearby mining communities.
Gass’ business was short lived, as he defaulted on his loan in 1881. Unfortunately, his ranch was used as collateral and the ranch was passed on to Archibald and Helen Stewart. The hardship didn’t stop there, Archibald was killed in a gunfight in 1884, leaving Helen to tend to the ranch. Fortunately, she was able to maintain the property with the assistance of her family, until 1902 when she sold the ranch and its water rights to the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad.
The original fort was constructed by the Mormons in 1855 and was comprised of an adobe enclosure 150 feet on each side, with towers at the northwest and southeast corners. Today, the adobe building closest to the creek is the only surviving part of the original structure.
The original fort was constructed by the Mormons in 1855 and was comprised of an adobe enclosure 150 feet on each side, with towers at the northwest and southeast corners. Today, the adobe building closest to the creek is the only surviving part of the original structure. Interestingly enough, this building was used as a testing lab and office for the United States Bureau of Reclamation, who leased and renovated the building in 1929 during the construction of the Hoover Dam.
During your visit, meander about the property on the beautiful walking paths and immerse yourself in this not-too-distant past. Imagine this being the only establishment in the Las Vegas valley!
The park is located in downtown Las Vegas at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue and is open year round.
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