Let’s admit it: our city’s history is inherently cool. The best part? Many of the places steeped in history are still around and can be visited today, with just a short trip from your Vegas home. We gathered together five historical sites with the most interesting histories. Combined, the spots have all the makings of a good movie: a mobster group, ghosts, a tragic love story, an engineering marvel, a marriage, a divorce, and even some sloths the size of grizzly bears. Ready to take a walk down memory lane?
Built in 1913, Pioneer Saloon is the oldest bar in Southern Nevada. With such a long history and features like bullet hole marks from a yesteryear, it’s no surprise the spot is the home of some intriguing stories.
One of which involves a story of heartache for a well-known screen actor. Clark Gable awaited news on his wife, Carole Lombard, for three days after her plane crashed near Mount Potosi. Unfortunately, the news was tragic: the crash was fatal for all passengers. The saloon memorializes the couple with a namesake backroom.
Additionally, ghosts are believed to inhabit this space, and the Ghost Adventures team visited the site during the season premiere of their eighth season.
The Saloon is located in Goodspring, just a 25-minute drive from Inspirada.
El Cortez Hotel
As the longest continuously running hotel and casino in Vegas, El Cortez Hotel has a rich past that includes some recognizable names. Built in 1941, the establishment’s profits drew the interest of some shady businessmen. Mobsters Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Moe Sedway, and Gus Greenbaum bought the property in 1945.
As we know — after seeing façade facelifts time and time again — it’s common for hotels and casinos to update their exterior. El Cortez Hotel is rare in that is has never changed its exterior. So, what you’re looking at is what people of the 40s saw when they stared, wide-eyed, at the famous landmark.
Little Church of the West
Little wedding chapels are a Vegas staple, and Little Church of the West arguably has the greatest history. Built in 1941, the chapel was the first church made purely to provide wedding ceremonies.
And perform ceremonies they do. Even a few celebrities have tied the knot at this chapel modeled after an old west mining town church. Judy Garland, Dudley Moore, Cindy Crawford & Richard Gere, and Angelina Jolie & Billy Bob Thornton have all been married at this spot. And, even the King has recited vows here — in a scene from the movie Viva Las Vegas, Elvis and Ann Margaret get married at the church.
Think about this: you’re tasked with making a structure that is meant to hold copious amounts of water, over theories that have never been proved before. That’s what the workers of the Hoover Dam were tasked with.
During the work, around 100 workers lost their lives. After completion, the dam spurred growth in the southwest.
During World War II, U.S. official discovered a German ploy to bomb the Hoover Dam to sabotage the power supply for the aviation manufacturing industry in Southern California. Security was upped, and potential defensive tactics, like large-scale smoke screens, were investigated in response.
Today, the dam provides power for utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California, and — when Lake Mead is full — it’s the largest reservoir in the United States. To this day it is considered an engineering marvel.
Floyd Lamb State Park at Tule Springs
What do the Pleistocene age, a blacksmith shop, and a 1940’s divorce have in common? Floyd Lamb State Park.
Fossils of extinct mammoths, bison, llamas, and ground sloths — yes, you read that right: the sloths were the size of grizzly bears — have been found at Floyd Lamb State Park’s springs. Some even touted it as “the most significant ice age fossil site in the country.”
In 1916, a blacksmith shop was added. The building is still on the property and was recently restored.
In the 1930s, the state of Nevada passed a bill allowing for a six-week divorce. This was unique, as at that time, other states enforced a year waiting period and sometimes required proof of adultery to move forward with a divorce. Out-of-state divorce seekers just had to have a residency of six weeks in the state, and the legal grounds for divorce required little or no proof. Oh yes, and there’s also the average of six minutes in court before the judge would get the divorce decree. Thus, the state became known for giving “quickie” divorces. “Divorcee ranches” sprung up to accommodate out-of-state visitors during their six-week stay. Tule Springs was one of the most popular divorce ranches in the 40s.
No excuses: now that you know the histories behind these spots, you need to visit as they’re just a short trip from your Vegas home. Speaking of homes, if you’re in search of a new home to lay down roots and make a history with your family, consider a home at Inspirada!