The Nevada State Historical Marker Program was launched in 1964 for Nevada's centennial to commemorate events such as the Old Spanish Trail in Southern Nevada and the great train robbery in Verdi, west of Reno. I started visiting the markers around my city during quarantine and I found that I enjoyed learning about the history of the land. I've almost seen all of the ones that are in my city and I hope to one day be able to visit more of the rural locations.
The number of markers in the Nevada system.
The number of markers I have seen.
The number of markers I hope to visit one day.
Stretching for 130 miles across Clark County, this historic horse trail became Nevada's first route of commerce in 1829 when trade was initiated between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. The trail was later used by the wagons of the "49ers" and Mormon pioneers. Concrete posts marking the trail were erected in 1965
The desire of the Mormon settlements for economic self-sufficiency led to mining by missionaries for lead. In 1856 Nathaniel V. Jones was sent to recover ore from the "Mountain of Lead" 30 miles southwest of the mission at Las Vegas Springs. About 9,000 pounds were recovered before smelting difficulties forced the remote mine to be abandoned in 1857. Potosi became the first abandoned mine in Nevada.
In 1861 California mining interests reopened the mine, and a smelter and rock cabins of 100 busy miners made up the mining camp of Potosi. Even more extensive operations resulted after the transcontinental Salt Lake and San Pedro R.R. (now Union Pacific) was built through the county in 1905.
During World War I, Potosi was an important source of zinc.
This portion of the Old Spanish Trail was discovered in January, 1830, by Antonio Armijo during his first trip from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. The springs just north of this marker provided excellent water and fed meadows of luxuriant grass for draft animals. Two days were required to travel between Las Vegas and Mountain Springs Pass. The trip was broken at Cottonwood Springs, the site of Blue Diamond, where an early start was usually made in order to climb the pass by nightfall. Early travelers often referred to the area as Paiute Springs, but the present title has been used for over a century. The altitude made Mountain Springs one of the favorite camping spots on the Trail.
Stretching for 130 miles across Clark County, this historic horse trail became Nevada's first route of commerce in 1829 when trade was initiated between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. The trail was later used by the wagons of the "49ers" and Mormon pioneers. Concrete posts marking the trail were erected in 1965.
Tule Springs is one of the few sites in the U.S. where evidence suggest the presence of man before 11,000 B.C.
Scientific evidence shows this area, once covered with sagebrush and bordered with yellow-pine forests, had many springs. These springs were centers of activity for both big game animals and human predators. Evidence found at these fossil springs shows the presence, 14,000 to 11,000 years ago, of several extinct animals--the ground sloth, mammoth, prehistoric horse and American camel. The first Nevada record of the extinct giant condor comes from Tule Springs.
Early man, perhaps living in the valley as early as 13,000 years ago and definitely present 11,000 years ago, was a hunter of the big game.
Small populations of Desert Culture people, about 7,000 years ago to the historic period, depended upon vegetable foods and small game for subsistence.
Late Pleistocene geological stratigraphy in few other areas is as complete and well known
Charles “Pop” Squires, often referred to as “the Father of Las Vegas,” lived at this location, with his wife Delphine, from 1931 until his death in 1958.
Squires first arrived in the Las Vegas Valley in February 1905. He and his partners established a lumberyard, a tent hotel, a real estate firm, and the First State Bank. In March 1906, “Pop” assisted in the formation of the Consolidated Power & Telephone Company, bringing electricity and phone service to the new town.
In 1908, Squires and his wife purchased the community’s only newspaper, the Las Vegas Age. Squires campaigned for the creation of Clark County in 1909. He subsequently worked on incorporating Las Vegas into a city. With his wife and the voice of their newspaper, the couple became advocates for women’s suffrage. As a member of the League of the Southwest and the Colorado River Commission, Squires helped advance plans that eventually led to the construction of Hoover Dam.
Upon “Pop’s” passing, Las Vegas Sun reporter Bob Faiss wrote, “It seems strange that Las Vegas, a modern boomtown … should owe so much to the foresight of one man. But there is little we have today that wasn’t given an initial shove by ‘Pop’ Squires.”
Established by Conrad Kiel in 1875, this was one of the only two major ranches in Las Vegas Valley throughout the 19th century. The Kiel tenure was marked by violence. Neighboring rancher Archibald Stewart was killed in a gunfight here in 1884. Edwin and William Kiel were found murdered on the ranch in October 1900.
The San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad purchased the ranch in 1903 and later sold it to Las Vegas banker John S. Park, who built the elegant white mansion. Subsequent owners included Edwin Taylor (1924-39), whose cowboy ranch hands competed in national rodeos, and Edwin Losee (1939-58), who developed the Boulderado Dude Ranch here, a popular residence for divorce seekers.
In the late 1950's, business declined and the ranch was sold. In 1976, 26 acres of the original ranch were purchased jointly by the City of North Las Vegas and its Bicentennial Committee as a historic project..
Early Spanish traders named the 55 dry miles separating Las Vegas and the Muddy River the Journada del Muerto (Journey of Death). This longest stretch without water along the Old Spanish Trail was littered with the skeletons of animals and parts of wagons abandoned along the sandy desert. Most experienced travelers made the trip at night. John C. Fremont crossed the Journada in 1844 and commented: "We ate the barrel cactus and moistened our mouths with the acid of the sour dock. Hourly expecting to find water, we continued to press on to midnight, when after a hard and uninterrupted march of 16 hours, our wild mules began running ahead; and in a mile or two we came to a bold running stream (the Muddy River)."
Indians of a highly developed civilization lived throughout Moapa Valley from 300-1100 A.D. Several hundred ancient pithouses, campsites, rockshelters, salt mines and caves of Puebloan people make up what is commonly known as "Lost City." These people cultivated corn, beans and squash in fields irrigated by river water. They also gathered wild seeds and fruits and hunted widely for deer, antelope, desert bighorn sheep, small mammals and birds. They wove fine cotton cloth, fired beautifully painted and textured pottery and mined and traded salt and turquoise to coastal tribes for seashells. Early dwellings were circular pithouses below ground; later dwellings above ground were single-story adobes having up to 100 rooms.
Lake Mead, created by Hoover Dam, flooded the most intensively developed portion of Lost City.
This park, situated on the old Arrowhead Trail, was designated on March 26th 1935, as Boulder Dam-Valley of Fire State Park.
Though four state parks were established by concurrent legislation, Valley of Fire is considered Nevada's first state park as it was dedicated prematurely on Easter Sunday, 1934.
Thomas W. Miller of Reno (Overton-Caliente) led the move to establish Nevada's state park system. He was appointed in 1935 as the first park commission chairman.
Recognized nationally for it's outstanding scenic, geologic, and archeological features, 8,760 acres were patented to the state in 1931 as a state exchange grant.
Civilian conservation corp companies initiated park devlopment in 1933.
Las Vegas promoters claimed to be the originators of this all-weather route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. From the beginning, the Arrowhead Trail was a "grass roots" effort, including promotion by various chambers of commerce and volunteer constrction by local citizens. However, it was Charles H. Bigelow, from Los Angeles, who gave the trail publicity. Between 1915 and 1916, he drove the entire route many times in the twin-six packard he named "Cactus Kate".
The trail, which extends near here, was build in 1915 and completed the section between St. Thomas and Las Vegas. In it's day, it denoted a milestone of progress.
On August 30, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell landed at the mouth of the Virgin River, about 12 miles south of here, thus ending the first boat expedition through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
The expedition left Green River City, Wyoming Territory, on May 24, 1869. For three months Powell and his men endured danger and hunger to explore, survey and study the geology of the canyons along the Green and Colorado Rivers.
Exhausted and near starvation, the Powell party was warmly greeted and fed by the hardy Mormon pioneers of St. Thomas, a small farm settlement about 11 miles north of here.
The original sites of St. Thomas and the junction of the Virgin and Colorado Rivers are now beneath the waters of Lake Mead.
This, and later Powell surveys, stimulated great interest in the water conservation problems of the Southwest.
On January 8, 1830, the first pack train to pass from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles crossed Las Vegas Valley. Antonio Armijo, a Santa Fe merchant, commanded the train and roughly sixty men. The successful completion of the journey opened a trade route between the two Mexican provinces of New Mexico and California.
Described as the "longest, crookedest, most arduous pack mule route in the history of America," Armijo's party brought woolen goods to Los Angeles and returned to Sante Fe driving herds of valuable mules and horses. Later termed the Old Spanish Trail, this route was a principal means of transportation between the two Mexican territories until the end of the Mexican war in 1848.
The name, “Arrowhead Trail” likely originated from the former San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad, which had an arrowhead for a logo. Prior to 1850, New Mexican trading caravans from Santa Fe en route to Los Angeles used this segment of the Old Spanish Trail.
Heading south along this trail toward Bishop Mountain, travelers turned through El Dorado pass, and continued to Nelson, Searchlight, Nipton, Wheaton Springs, and on to San Bernardino.
This section of the trail was popular as an early automobile road (1916-1924) connecting Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Local communities along the route promoted its construction and the tourism possibilities of Southern Nevada, including the nearby Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first state park.
Initial discoveries of predominately gold ore were first made at this location on May 6, 1897. G.F. Colton filed the first claim, later to become the Duplex Mine. The Quartette Mining Company, formed in 1900, became the mainstay of the Searchlight district, producing almost half of the area’s total output. In May 1902, a 16 mile narrow-gauge railroad was built down the hill to the company’s mill on the Colorado River.
On March 31, 1907, the 23.22 mile Barnwell and Searchlight Railroad connected the town with the then main Santa Fe line from Needles to Mojave. By 1919 trains travelled over the B. and S. Railroad only twice a week. A severe washout on September 23, 1923, halted traffic completely. Train service was never restored.
Searchlight is the birthplace of U.S. Senator Harry Reid (b.1939) who became the first Nevadan to serve as the Senate Majority Leader, a position he assumed in 2007.
34. This was one of the first markers that I went to visit. I could not find it because it was not in the location that all of the guides were giving me online. I messaged someone from Mountain Springs online and they told me that construction had taken place and the marker was moved from near the fire station to Benedict drive by the mailboxes.
115. This was one of the first markers that I actually got to see on that trip because the other two were "missing". We travelled down the dirt road for a little bit, but we saw signs that said not to stop at all so we eventually turned around. There looks to be a boy scout retreat up on the mountain, as well as backroads into Goodsprings.
142. I tried to take a picture of this historical marker back in February but it was missing from its location. I had emailed the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office about the removal, and they had told me that they get a very modest grant to help with the maintenance of these parkers, and they were inbetween contractors at the time. I'm happy to report that it looks like they have accepted a proposal from a new firm. That's the 15th marker I've been able to check off from Southern Nevada.
33. This area looks super cute and I want to explore it more. Eating at the Cottonwood Station is on my list of things to do around LV one day.
86. This is one of my favorite parks in the Las Vegas area. It is absolutely gorgeous in the autumn when the leaves have started to turn yellow and collect among the desert floor.
224. Some point between 2009 and Feb 2021, this marker lost its blue Nevada shape and just became a plaque on the gate of the park. A fire in 1992 destroyed the main building. The city then sold off all but 7 acres of this historic park. It was used as a dump site, losing its value as an archeological site. When I visited last week, the park was a disaster. There are giant cut branches everywhere. Couldn’t even see the spring. Las Vegas fails at preserving history once again.
41. Isn't it a little depressing how we will flood and destroy places we later deem historic... An important comment was made when I posted this sign on it's own about how the words of the sign may be considered offensive or inaccurate.
150. This was my first visit to Valley of Fire even though I have lived in the state for almost a decade. It is not to be skipped out on. It was too hot (FOR ME) to do any hiking so I can't wait to return when its cooler outside. I did get to see the petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock. Mouse's Tank Road provides amazing r/RoadPorn if you're into that kind of thing. I don't judge ;)
37. The text on the signage must be really old because St. Thomas has been uncovered for quite some time. I tried to visit it on this same trip, but the road was a wash-board and we turned around after a long day. This site made me think a lot about the drought and how much fun these spots along the river must of been in their hey-day. Fun fact: Ebay is said to be named for Echo Bay
116. There was not a lot of room to park off to the side to see this one. I had to park on the opposite side of the road and dash across. Please be safe. Those mountains in the back to the right are stunning... if anyone knows their name, let me know. Thank you~