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Literary Las Vegas: Tom Moulin

As a teen growing up in rural Maine, Tom Moulin took a semester off from high school and hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine writing about the plants he encountered along the way. After he earned a civil engineering degree in 2002, he took a job in Las Vegas and was excited that Red Rock Canyon was only a few minutes away.

Moulin has spent a decade exploring Red Rock, studying its history, trails, resident wildlife and more. His work culminated in the publication of “Red Rock Canyon Visitor Guide,” a book packed with topographical maps, stories, history and detailed information backed up with color photos of the trails, springs, plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals visitors are likely to encounter. Information from the book is also available as an app for smartphones and tablets.

Moulin is scheduled to sign copies of his guide from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Nevada State Museum in the Springs Preserve, 309 S. Valley View Blvd., and during the grand opening for Las Vegas Cyclery & Escape Adventures, 8221 W. Charleston Blvd., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 9. For more information on the book, visit snellpress.com.

Excerpt from ‘Red Rock Canyon Visitor Guide’

Reportedly, the apricots Bill Morgan used to make brandy came from the Spring Mountain Ranch, where evidence of a still has also been found.

Most of those who operated at Red Rock did well to hide their activities. In the 1920s, Las Vegas extended only as far west as Valley View Boulevard, and Red Rock was a distant wilderness. While on a hunting trip with a friend at Red Rock, J.D. Smith, a dentist from Las Vegas, came upon a ‘great big still’ and the operator of the still, who had a gun. Smith recognized the bootlegger; he had pulled the man’s tooth the day before. Laughs abounded, and the men shared a drink of the hooch.

Other operations may have never been discovered, but place names, such as Moonshine Spring and Bootleg Spring attest to their activities. Bootleggers often hid their mash and stills in inaccessible caves or buried them underground.

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