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Travel Logs October 2015

Triptalk'en

Nevada’s Springs Preserve Reveals Las Vegas Roots

By Bobbie Green

It is the original bubbling spring water hole, which drew early native peoples and early settlers to the area — long before the casinos.

A real desert oasis right in the middle of glitzy Las Vegas took this first-time visitor by surprise. Las Vegas, Nevada’s, Springs Preserve is the true beginnings of Las Vegas. It is the original bubbling spring water hole, which drew early native peoples and early settlers to the area — long before the casinos.

Helen Stewart and her husband once owned the 180 acres that encompass the Springs Preserve today. After her husband was shot to death, Helen ran the ranch and raised her children there. In 1902, she sold it to the railroad; Las Vegas began to develop in 1905.

Today the Springs Preserve is on the water company’s land and operated by the Springs Preserve non-profit Foundation established in 1997 to help develop and raise funds to offset costs of operating development of Springs Preserve. They have preserved Las Vegas history and introduced innovative educational classes, activities and events in these beautiful surroundings. The local citizens know and use the facilities here. Yet many tourists miss a special day of seeing the other side of Vegas –  a property interesting to adults and children alike.

The entrance to the Preserve is lined with beautiful replica rock formations found in the Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon. The Origen Museum building is the heart of the Preserve. The museum displays the early cultural history of the area’s Native Americans and pioneers. There is an impressive display, with life-size models depicting the land auctions which took place in the 1800s. Every three months there is a new traveling exhibit display.

Ethel M is a chocolate candy company, a competitor of See's Candy. Ethel M has a chocolate factory and premier cactus garden in  Las Vegas and is a major tourist attraction where Ethel M and chocolate origins are currently on display, from the cacao tree through finished candies. I found the old tins the chocolate was sold in to be nostalgic amusement.

There is an amphitheater that seats up to 1,700 people for concerts etc. The national award-winning solar house which UNLV students designed is open for viewing. The botanical gardens surround it with many recycled items used to create garden characters.

A recent addition is the little train that makes a 20-minute run around the perimeter of the Springs Preserve hiking trails that meander through the historic natural areas where the remnants of past lives including an adobe home, water pipes, even a Paiute pit house and hearth remain. The original springs mount is here although it stopped producing water in 1962. Of the three trails, only one is paved for bikes and wheelchair accessibility.

Spending the best part of a day here is easy to do and a great place to bring your kids or grandkids. The Preserve has a creative play area where the visiting school kids were having a great time. Walking in the park is easy for seniors; it is not too large and most of it is paved, flat surface.

The onsite restaurant is on the second story with a great view of the surrounding high-rise glitzy Vegas — a reminder that you are really still in the city. The self-order restaurant offers modest prices and good food.

Included in the price of admission is entrance to the Nevada State Museum, which occupies a small portion of the property. I found their wildlife display to be exceptionally nice. If you follow the map route through the museum, you will follow the periods of Nevada history ending with wonderful display of early Vegas casinos’ artifacts and show costumes.

The price of admission for Nevada residents is adults $9.95, seniors $8.95, kids ages 5-17 $4.95. Out of state adults $18.95, seniors $17.95, Kids $10.95. Included in the price of admission to Springs Preserve is entrance fee to the Nevada State Museum.

 

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