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Walnut namesake not native by a landslide

Walnut Road takes its name from a tree that probably can’t be spotted for miles around.

That’s according to Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin, who didn’t find a lot of mystery shrouding the 4-mile stretch of asphalt that runs from the northernmost reaches of North Las Vegas to Sunrise Manor.

Kulin said there was never a fabled pioneer clan of Walnuts, or any old, half-remembered folklore surrounding an ancient walnut grove that once flourished in the middle of what would become U.S. Highway 95.

In fact, walnut trees aren’t even a regional native species, which led him to a much more pedestrian conclusion.

“It’s named after the tree, like thousands of other Walnut Roads across the country,” Kulin said. “Apparently, it was named along with other streets in a subdivision built years ago.

“It doesn’t look like it was any more exciting than that. … At least you didn’t ask me how Main Street was named.”

Walnut Recreation Center, 3075 N. Walnut Road, shares the road’s name.

The only county-owned recreation center in Sunrise Manor was founded in 1998, when it consisted of a single three-wide trailer that hosted free community outreach and education programs for hundreds of neighborhood kids daily.

A $10 million federally funded expansion in 2002 has seen the community trailer site expanded into a 41,000-square-foot recreation center that hosts about 10,000 visitors a month, including hundreds of monthly visitors to adjacent Walnut Park.

Even there, the county hasn’t looked to build an organic tie between the road and its namesake. There are dozens of leafy shrubs and evergreens on the park’s 9 acres but not a walnut or walnut-hungry chipmunk to be found.

Clark County Museum administrator Mark Hall-Patton isn’t surprised.

Walnut Road, he said, falls into the broad category of Southern Nevada streets and parks named for dolphins, ocean breezes and seagulls: Las Vegas’ own brand of ironic, if not downright, wishful thinking.

“When you’ve done enough research on these things, one of the oddities you’ll see is that people love to name streets after trees for some reason,” Hall-Patton said. “The original area, where Walnut starts, is over between Bruce (Street), Eastern (Avenue) and Bonanza (Road), by the freeway.

“Over there you’ll see a bunch of tree streets: Linden (Avenue), Mesquite (Avenue), Poplar (Avenue), Elm (Avenue), but then across the freeway, you’ve got Marlin Avenue, so there’s really no rhyme or reason; that’s just the way things were done at the time.”

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at or 702-477-3839.