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Wash History

Euroamerican History (AD 1500s - 1950)

The Historical period saw the arrival of Euroamericans in Southern Nevada. The first documented European entry into the Las Vegas Valley was by Antonio Armijo in 1829. It is believed that Armijo made a stop along the Las Vegas Wash on his trip along the Spanish trail from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles, California. Other early explorers such as Jedediah Smith and James O. Pattie traveled near the Wash on their trapping expeditions down the Virgin and Colorado Rivers. Blue glass and ceramic trade beads, which were recovered from two sites along the Las Vegas Wash, may date to this early period.

(Excerpt from Greg Seymour, Archaeologist, Springs Preserve)

Spanish Trail Explorers

The Spanish Trail is a 1,200-mile route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles serving as a trade passage between the two Mexican provinces of New Mexico and California. Attempts to cross this treacherous route started as early as 1765, but were not completed until the winter of 1829-30. During January 1830, the first mule train to cross from Santa Fe to Los Angeles passed through the Las Vegas Valley. A Mexican merchant, by the name of Antonio Armijo, and his entourage of 60 men were the first men to complete the journey. Their mission was to take manufactured goods from Santa Fe to Los Angeles and return driving herds of mules and horses.

On Armijo's excursion, the path that led him and his crew from the Colorado River through the valley later became the "Las Vegas Wash." The desert wash led the travelers into a lush valley that is known today as the city of Las Vegas. The city obtained its name in the 1800's by Spanish explorers translating into English as "the meadows.

Las Vegas Wash Project Coordination Team • 100 City Parkway, Suite 700 • Las Vegas, NV 89106 • (702) 822-3300