Author Archives: lasvegashistorymuseum

Celebrating Las Vegas’ birthday month #VegasHistory

Happy 109th birthday, Las Vegas! Tomorrow, May 2, we’re having a Cinco de Mayo/First Friday/Las Vegas birthday party. Come on by our office at 1114 S. Main St. Ste. 120 to say ‘hello’ if you’re in the area.

NHS-CL-627 Las Vegas Townsite Auction, Clark County, Nevada, May 15, 1905.  Selling  the lots that would become Las Vegas.  Credit:  Nevada Historical Society.  Glossy 5x7" gelatin silver copy print scanned with Epson Perfection V500.

On Monday, May 15, of 1905, just before 10am, Las Vegas was born when 6’6″ railroad attorney and Las Vegas Land and Water Company President C.O. Whittenmore introduced Los Angeles auctioneer Ben E. Rhodes, just north of the current entrance to the Plaza Hotel. The area up for auction was called Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite, and had been bought by U.S. Senator William Clark in 1902 from Helen Stewart to form a railroad town to support steam engines en route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. Many folks had come from Los Angeles flush with cash, and had camped on her ranch or in tent ‘hotels’ for days for the opportunity to bid. Many lots sold for 4x the anticipated price. Highest-price lots were for the 3 parcels where the Golden Gate for $1.750, and an equal amount for the 3 parcels where Las Vegas Club now stand. The auction had to be cut short due to the heat at 3pm due to the heat which topped 110 degrees. Sales continued at scheduled prices at 8am the next day, totaling $265,000.

Got old Helldorado photos like this one? Help us and the Elks build an archive #VegasHistory

frank first televised helldorado

Here’s a photo from the first televised Helldorado parade, May 18, 1958, courtesy of Frank Valeri

Got old Helldorado photos (of the parade, rodeo, Whiskerino, etc.) for which you own the rights, or know someone who does? Las Vegas Historical Society is working with the Elks to put together a photo display next month for Helldorado Days. Entries will be entered into a photo contest with yet-to-be-determined prizes.

How Jayne Mansfield looked when she grocery shopped #VegasHistory

Jayne Mansfield was not shy when it came to photo ops in Las Vegas, gratefully. Here she shops! Appearing in Playboy and becoming a major Broadway star in 1955, a major Hollywood star in 1956, and a leading celebrity in 1957, she went on to have a nightclub/strip tease act at Tropicana Hotel with her husband (and previous Mr. Universe contest winner) Mickey Hargitay. Courtesy of SparkleJamesSparkle @ Tumblr.

Grant Sawyer goes to Washington #VegasHistory

After helping President Kennedy get elected in 1960, Governor Grant Sawyer was taken aback when he learned from Nevada Attorney General Roger Foley that US Attorney General Bobby Kennedy/FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover planned to conduct raids on Vegas casinos looking for Mob connections. Sawyer also wanted to rid the state of Mob influence, but didn’t want to break the law with such a lacking-of-probably-cause dragnet. After serving two terms, Sawyer went on to be a founding partner with Las Vegas law firm Lionel Sawyer Collins.

When Cary James was evicted #Liberace

Sending a postcard of your home is unusual, but Cary James, Liberace’s last lover, sent this post card to Anna Nateece, as he was being evicted from Liberace’s Palm Spring’s home. Cary most likely contracted HIV from Liberace, and Liberace wanted to support Cary after Liberace died in 1987. According to Anna, The Liberace Foundation’s trustee was changed just prior to Liberace’s death, and didn’t honor Liberace’s wishes to take care of Cary long term. Anna stayed very close to Terry until his death in 1996. Courtesy of Anna Nateece.