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UNLV professor recounts historical events leading to today’s Las Vegas

Las Vegas grew from a railroad town with a few thousand residents in the early 1900s to a worldwide destination with 2 million people by 2007.

“Very few cities do that,” said Dr. Eugene Moehring, professor of history at UNLV.

Moehring presented an in-depth history of Southern Nevada on Thursday at College of Southern Nevada, Henderson Campus, for the fifth “Henderson Speaks” event.

“There’s a lot of great history here, but people don’t know about it because they haven’t lived here for very long,” said Robyn Ouchida, executive director of the Henderson Historical Society.

The society itself has been in existence only five years, Ouchida said, and it’s been almost 1½ years since its last “Henderson Speaks” event.

“We’ve got to get some members who are a little younger and from other generations to keep things going, keep it fresh,” Ouchida said. “We want to get the excitement building.”

In his presentation, Moehring outlined major events that contributed to Southern Nevada’s growth in the past 100 years, including the opening of the El Rancho Vegas hotel-casino on April 3, 1941, establishment of the Las Vegas Water District and corporate gaming, and casino mogul Steve Wynn’s invention of the megaresort.

Moehring, who has authored several books including “Resort City in the Sunbelt: Las Vegas, 1930-2000,” believes Las Vegas was “never destined” to be a large metropolitan area, but catapulted to where it is today because of the leadership of key business and political figures.

Following his presentation, which focused on the 100 years after Las Vegas’ founding in 1905, audience members had the opportunity to try to “stump the professor” in a Q&A session moderated by Mark Hall-Patton, the museum administrator for the Clark County Museum system.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Find @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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