The first permanent, non-native settlement in the Las Vegas, Nevada area is the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, which includes remnants of an adobe fort erected by Mormon missionaries beside a spring-fed creek in 1855.
For miles around, the creek was the only free-flowing body of water and served as a resting place for travelers while also irrigating farms and orchards.
In its present location, the park is now known as Las Vegas Park. A Visitors Center houses exhibits and photographs that trace the site’s history, in addition to the fort, which is home to a variety of historical objects.
The Las Vegas Valley’s first stream, which ran through the area more than 150 years ago, served as a refuge in the desert for Indians, trappers, traders, settlers, and gold seekers making their way to California via the Old Spanish Trail.
Excavations of the fort site have revealed ceramic shards, stone tools, and Paiute and Anasazi arrowheads. A significant number of objects were discovered near the northeastern fort bastion, suggesting the use of a campsite that was utilized for hundreds of years before the arrival of Euro-Americans.
The meadows of Las Vegas became an important stopping point on the Old Spanish Trail, which was arduous but eventually successful in traversing Mexico’s northern border and linking two distant outposts: Santa Fe and Los Angeles, by the 1830s.
The Las Vegas Springs and creek, which ran along the southern boundary of the current site, were appreciated by traders, mountain men, and horse thieves who used the route.
The Mexican-American War, as well as the Mormon settlement of Salt Lake City in 1847, redirected the eastern terminus of the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to Salt Lake City.
Due to the need to obtain goods from southern California, early Mormon pioneers passed through Las Vegas’ meadows almost immediately after establishing northern Utah. With the sudden increase in freight and emigrant traffic on this route, as well as the necessity for safety, Las Vegas was established quickly by the burgeoning Mormon state. The Mormons arrived in July 1855, accompanied by President William Bringhurst, and began building a fort structure along the creek with the help of the local Paiute people.