Category Archives for "history"

Old Spanish Trail

Travelling Southwest to Las Vegas there is evidence of older transportation corridors that parallel Interstate 15 including the Old Spanish Trail. The Historic Spanish Trail, a 2,700 mile trading route, extended from New Mexico to California.

In 1829 Spanish merchant Antonio Armijo, led 60 men and 1100 mules from Santa Fe to the San Gabriel Mission in California. Traveling along trails used by Native Americans and fur trappers they followed streams in search for springs and meadows to nourish their livestock.

Pictured: Old Spanish Trail

At the San Gabriel Mission merchants traded blankets for horses and mules. California had abundance of horses and cattle, but no sheep for wool.

The Spanish Trail comprised many main trails, and numerous alternate routes. Trails began and ended depending upon the traveler’s beginning location and intended destination, always searching for, and plotting the location of water.

Following the Mexican American War of 1846-1848, wagon routes expanded commerce and westward pioneer migration. Providing access to foreign markets and goods at California ports, commerce increased between Santa Fe and Los Angeles.

Parallel to Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas you will see segments of US Highway 91 and the Los Angeles, San Pedro and Salt Lake Railroad. Not visible from the Interstate is the Arrowhead Trail, the Mormon Road and the Spanish Trail.

Pictured: Old Spanish Trail Marker

However, by making short diversions from Interstate 15 you will see evidence of the Spanish Trail. The Old Spanish Trail Association, Las Vegas Chapter, placed concrete markers along the original Spanish Trail at exits 64, 75, 88, 90, and 112. Interpretive panels, describing the commercial trading route are located at exits 64, 90 and 122.

Pictured: Clark County Spanish Trail Park

Residents and visitors to Clark County can visit the Old Spanish Trail Park in Las Vegas. Located at 8150 Tara Avenue, the park, established in 2008, includes several interpretation panels describing early history of Las Vegas Valley when this area was a major stop for water by traders traveling through the Southwest.

The Old Spanish Trail Association promotes public awareness of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail and its multicultural heritage by encouraging research, publication and partnering with governments and private organizations.

Learn more about the Old Spanish Trail Association at the Nevada Chapter website. OSTA chapters are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico Utah and United Kingdom. Join the Old Spanish Trail Association and receive free newsletter OSTA Spanish Traces.

Art Chesmore, and his company Las Vegas Private Tour Guide, designs, manages and guides personalized itineraries for itinerate travelers to Las Vegas, and throughout Southwest and Western United States. Follow Art on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Meet Mary Jane Colter, American Architect and Designer

One of America’s few female architects during the early 20th C, Mary Jane Colter made her mark designing buildings within Grand Canyon National Park. Hired by the Fred Harvey Company in 1910, Ms Colter was chief architect and decorator, and remained with the Harvey House Hotels and Restaurants until retirement in 1948.

Mary Colter (right) discussing Bright Angel Lodge plans with Grand Canyon Nat. Park Sup't Minor R.
Tillotson and Mrs. Harold Ickes (wife of the Secretary of the Interior).
Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection # 16942
From the Alvina Zimmerman Collection – Circa 1935

In 1987 six of Ms Colter’s designed buildings in Grand Canyon National Park were added to The National Register of Historic Landmarks. Hopi House (built in 1905), Hermits Rest (1914), Lookout Studio (1914), Phantom Ranch (1922), Desert View Watch Tower (1932) and Bright Angel Lodge (1935) were constructed using authentic materials and are referred to as “National Park Rustic.”

Incorporated into Colter’s design and construction of Bright Angel Lodge is the “Geological Fireplace.” The rocks are arranged in the same order as the geologic strata along the Bright Angel trail that descends from the Grand Canyon rim to the Colorado River.

The Hopi House resembles Pueblos in the Hopi Village of Oraibi, while the Desert View Watch Tower resembles the watch towers of ancient Pueblo People.

Mary Jane Colter also designed renovations of the Painted Desert Inn in the Petrified Forest National Park, and she designed the Harvey House Restaurant in the Los Angeles Union Station. Colter considers the last great railroad hotel in America, The La Posada Hotel in Winslow Arizona, “her masterpiece.” The La Posada, “the resting place,” and the adjacent former Santa Fe Railway Station were restored to its historic prominence by Allan Affeldt, and his wife Tina. The La Posada Historic District is listed on the National Register.

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