Sunday, February 1, 2009


History tells us that the first tourist to Las Vegas was Rafael Rivera, who came along in the early 1700s. During the early part of the 18th century, Spanish explorers looked on the journey through this part of the West as the "Jomada de muerte" or journey of death, for the high summer temperatures and dry desert conditions during almost any time of the year. Rafael Rivera was a young scout and is considered the first European to gaze upon the valley. He saw wild grasses and trees and therefore a supply of water, from the natural springs in the valley. However, this wasn't news to the Palutes (or the Anasazis who came before them), who had dwelled in the region for centuries.

Inspired by the green vegetation in the midst of the desert, they named it las vegas, Spanish for "the meadows." The Spanish explorers and missionaries who quickly followed them established the Spanish Trail by about 1829. Parts of this trail eventually became what we know as Interstate 15.

The tradition of the beer in one hand and a bucket of quarters in the other came along later in Vegas history.

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