Las Vegas is the primer place to gamble and the Entertainment Capital of the World. If asked, the average person would say Las Vegas was built from gambling. The reality is Las Vegas got its start from the railroad.
Las Vegas (Spanish for the meadows) saw its first European visitor in 1829 as a stop for water along the Old Spanish Trail. In 1844 John C. Fremont “discovered” Las Vegas and hence, Fremont Street and the Fremont Street Experience were named in his honor. The next sixty years saw Las Vegas as an on again, off again, Mormon settlement. In that time Las Vegas was basically a watering hole for travelers between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
Other milestones occurred that shaped the history of Las Vegas. In 1931 construction began on the Hoover Dam and brought thousands of construction workers to the depression era economy of Las Vegas. 1931 also was the year the State Legislature legalized gambling establishing the Vegas persona to the day. World War II brought Nellis Air Force Base and the Basic Management Complex providing needed raw materials for the war effort. In 1950 the Nevada Test Site was established for testing nuclear weapons. The Test Site brought needed employment and the iconic pictures of Downtown with mushroom clouds in the distance.
All these events made Las Vegas what it is today. The Las Vegas Valley has a population at almost two million people and a name recognized world over. All the time the railroad industry continued to grow; moving freight and people from Southern California to all points east.
The history of Las Vegas and the Railroad is about to change again. Passenger service to Las Vegas ended with Amtrak in 1997, but is about to return in a big way. The Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. (Vegas X Train) is re-establishing rail travel between Southern California and Las Vegas. Not to be confused with a typical commuter train, the Vegas X Train will be a luxury train catering to the Vegas Tourist looking to make the trip to Las Vegas part of the Vegas Experience. History is about to repeat itself with the ever changing Las Vegas. The city started with the railroad, became known for gambling and will continue its great railroad tradition with the Vegas X Train.