Las Vegas is the miracle in the Mojave Desert. Now a city of 2 million, it is expected to double in population over the next couple of decades. We hope that the water that will make it thrive in the future will be available. The best place Ruth & I have found to explore Las Vegas’ gambling past is the Clark County Museum at 1830 South Boulder Highway in Henderson, Nevada, not too far from Boulder Dam. This dam’s construction has fueled Las Vegas’ growth, and the men and women who built it immediately moved from Nevada to Washington to build the Grand Coulee Dam.
Most of the original casino-resorts are gone. Only The Flamingo survives from the earlier era when Las Vegas was known for entertainment that began with gambling. The town that became Las Vegas began to develop in 1905, but gambling was not legalized in Nevada until 1931. The first successful gambling and resort establishment came along in 1941. With an Old West theme, the El Rancho Vegas was on what was to become the fabulous Las Vegas Strip and spurred the creation of other resorts.
The Clark County Museum constantly updates and refreshes its gambling exhibits. Way back in the early 1940s, the El Rancho was an instant success. Soon it was not alone. The Stardust, the Aladdin, and The Hacienda joined it as did others. Soon enough Caesar’s Palace and The Wynn joined them all to become a vacationer’s paradise called Las Vegas. This happened over time with lots of changes. Among the more recent ones are the changing of the name of this city’s international airport from McCarran Field to Harry Reid. Patrick McCarran had been a Senator.
The Clark County Museum in Henderson regularly updates and refreshes its gambling displays. When we were there recently, we admired 1941 ash trays, matches, and other gambling artifacts from the original El Cortez in a changing exhibit case that had been recently redone. The first El Cortez burned in 1960. It lasted until 2021 and closed after 80 years of continuous operation. The Dunes Tower where Howard Hughes collected his urine samples was once this state’s tallest structure. The Aladdin is now a Planet Hollywood that is destined to change over time.
This museum is a monument to one woman’s collecting skills and a never ceasing desire to keep historic Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert alive and well. Her name was Anna Roberts. Now owned by Caesar’s Entertainment, The Flamingo is the oldest resort on The Strip that is still in operation. It was the 3rd resort and casino to exist on The Strip. It opened for business in 1946 and is still going strong. The Aladdin opened originally in 1962.