It is easy to get lost in the casinos, hospitality and nightlife of Vegas. On a visit, many people can overlook its unique cultural heritage. Despite constant development, there are still fragments of the old town clinging on, often preserved or in some cases, even left completely undeveloped. If you are interested in the history of this American institution, below are the three sights from old Vegas that you must experience.
The El Rancho Lot
When the Hoover Dam was built, thousands of workers flooded into Vegas and made it the town that it is today. With money to spend, these hard workers needed somewhere to be entertained. Casinos were the obvious answer, and El Rancho was the first to provide this solution. Built by a businessman known as Tommy Hull, it was the first casino resort on the Vegas Strip.
Later renamed The Thunderbird, it is easy to overlook this plot in its current state. Derelict, it has remained undeveloped since 2000 and is now owned by American entrepreneur Phil Ruffin. With the growth of the Vegas online casino market, which has allowed new players a more convenient way to learn the rules of table games and slots, the industry is undergoing a resurgence.
The iGaming boom has meant that more people than ever are confident at playing casino games, and are venturing into them for entertainment. This is evident in the property boom and prices on the Vegas Strip, so it is confusing as to why such a historic plot remains unused. However, none of these would exist without it, so it is worth a visit for that alone.
Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort
Before Vegas was the neon mecca of today, it was sparsely inhabited. Native tribes lived in the area, and it was used as a stop on the mail service trail between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. There is only one surviving permanent structure from that period, which is now housed in a park in downtown Las Vegas.
A fort built of adobe; it was built by Mormon missionaries around 1855. Constructed next to the only free-flowing creek in the area, it was 150 square feet wide and provided water for farming and travellers on the road. If you visit, it now has a range of artefacts from its history and old Vegas, along with an informative visitors’ centre.
The Neon Museum is home to the relics that created the strip and gave it character. It is a 2.25-acre campus that is the final resting place of 250 signs, as well as blueprints, renderings and drawings. Famous sights like the Hacienda Horse reside there, now restored to their former glory. The most famous section is the Neon Boneyard, an outdoor exhibit where the signs yet to be revived are stored. It is an extremely unique spot, ideal for cool Instagram shots.
There are plenty of other historical spots. However, as real estate becomes more expensive and developers move in, they could be lost. It pays to visit them sooner rather than later, so you don’t miss out on the treasures of this great town’s past.