The Early-Explorers, Mormons, and Indians
After the arrival of the early visitors in the Valley in 1829, interest, settlement, and exploration of the Las Vegas area began to increase over the next seventy-five years. It was still a very slow growth situation. Las Vegas didn’t really gain a large population until well into the late 1900s. As recently as 1960 the entire population of Clark County which includes Las Vegas was only 127,016. Today, population is over 2,000,000.
An important date in Vegas history was 1844 when famous military cartographer and explorer, John C. Fremont, visited the Las Vegas area. In 1845 he published a report of his travels and charted a map of the area. Congress printed 20,000 copies of Fremont’s map and distributed them to all who wanted them. This increased interest and travel to the area.
The next milestone for Las Vegas occurred in 1855 when Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) sent William Bringhurst, along with 29 other men to Las Vegas. Their purpose was to establish a mission and to convert and work with the local Paiute Indians. These were the first non-Indian settlers to arrive with the intent to stay.
Unfortunately, this effort ended up in failure for several reasons including poor crop production, lack of cooperation from the Paiutes, and failure in their lead mining efforts. In less than two years the Mormons abandoned the area and returned to Utah in 1857.
The Mormon Fort compound, now a state park, is located on the corner of Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Blvd, about a mile north of the downtown area. It is open to the public. For anyone interested in the fascinating history of the area this is a stop worth the time.
For more information, visit: http://parks.nv.gov/parks/old-las-vegas-mormon-fort/