When giving friends and dates directions to her house in the early ’60s, Judy Michaels would give them a simply instruction.
“Look left for the wigwam,” she said. “You could see it from the highway. It was a good earmark.”
Her family owned that wigwam, which she said is how Wigwam Parkway and Avenue got its start.
Michaels’ stepfather, Joe Wickman, moved from Colorado to Las Vegas in the early 1950s after the Korean War.
“He was a sheet metal worker,” she said. “He did seasonal construction work.”
Wickman’s parents were also here at the time.
Michaels’ mother, with her daughter in tow, moved to Las Vegas to try to reconnect with her biological father.
“But that didn’t work out,” she said.
She later met and married Wickman.
“He was looking to homestead some land out here,” she said. “At that time, you took the old freeway to get into town.”
Right off U.S. Highway 91, known today as Las Vegas Boulevard, the family found a piece of land to build a house on in 1956.
“There was a dirt road that led up to it,” she said.
But the road was hard to see, which inspired Wickman to create something that could capture the eye.
“So he built a wigwam,” she said. A wigwam is a domed-shaped building used by certain Native American tribes. “We called it Wickmans’ Wigwam. It was very elaborate.”
They also paved the road to their new house.
Her mother suggested that Wickman look into getting the road named.
Eventually, her stepfather went before the Clark County Commission to see if the 500-foot driveway could be named Wigwam.
“That was the beginning,” she said. “They couldn’t care less. It was 500 feet.”
As the area developed with houses and other businesses, Wigwam Parkway and Avenue — depending on the area of town — began to grow into a paved road. It now stretches through Henderson and parts of southwest Las Vegas.
Michaels said she leveled Wickman’s Wigwam about five years ago.
“It was old and couldn’t be insured,” she said. “It was much more decorative than useful. I wanted to sell the land.”
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.