The first outing of our spring break week took us to the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. I've known about this place for sometime and determined that this would be a great time to visit. You know, before it gets blazing hot.
The fort is located right next to the Cashman Center in Las Vegas. Which, unsettling enough, is also referred to the Homeless Corridor. Yep. Just look at this screenshot of my map. I could hardly believe that this was labeled as a "place".
Strangely enough, this sketchy part of town is also smack dab where several museums are located - the Neon Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Las Vegas Library, and up until last year the Children's Museum. Nice city planning, huh?
Anyways, you definitely get to spy a lot of interesting people between the freeway exit and the entrance to the fort. But at the fort everything feels completely safe (I don't want to scare you away!).
Two things to know:
- There is a $1 admission charge for adults 13 and up. Cash only.
- This historic site is not owned & run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is actually a Nevada State Park.
I thought it was a great little outing and I recommend it to anyone who lives in the area.
When you enter, there is a small museum that details the history of the fort and the growth of Las Vegas.
Let me give you a quick history lesson & backstory:
In 1855 Brigham Young, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sent 30 men from Utah to set up a mission at the Las Vegas Springs. They built a fort which provided a place of rest & security for travelers between California and Salt Lake City. They planted gardens. And they taught the gospel to the Paiute Indians. This was the first Anglo-American settlement in the Las Vegas Valley. In 1857, though, the mission was disbanded and the men returned to their families in Utah. In later years the site was purchased and developed as a ranch and changed hands a few times over the years, eventually under ownership of the railroad. One of the buildings was used for concrete testing during the construction of Hoover Dam. Today, as a state park, it has been restored to historical appearance. Only one structure on the site is original.
Don't you feel smarter?
I'm not sure why we are saluting the Mexican flag . . .
Anna saw this and got SO excited: "Mom! It's just like the one they churn butter with in the book!" That book is Little House on the Prairie.
There is a short film you can watch about the history of the fort. Then it's time to go outside and explore the grounds. As I mentioned, all of this has been constructed with an attempt at historical accuracy.
I thought these grapevine trellises were pretty amazing.
Inside the fort tower.
In the desert we are always so shocked to see running water! (Later, we realized that this was a man-made creek with underground irrigation pipes. Boo.)
This adobe building is the only original structure on the site. Inside, they have filled it with lots of fun antiques and artifacts from the era.
Anna stepped onto this scale and the kids broke into a re-enactment of the Studio C sketch, "Weighty Matters". Shhh, kids - no screaming, please!
A replica of the first flag flown over Las Vegas on July 4, 1855. It was made from 1 1/2 yards of "domestic", an old red shirt, and blue jeans. The 8 point star in the center represents Deseret.
I realized later that the thing I enjoyed most about this place was the history, the old buildings (or replicas of), and the antiques & tools from an older time.. There isn't a whole lot that is old in this town with the "tear it down - build it new" mentality. So this was a much welcome sight.
Again, here is a link to The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort if you want to check it out.