Exhibit traces Clark County’s days before its date with the Silver State

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, Ariz.

According to Mark Hall-Patton, the administrator for the Clark County museum system, Las Vegas being in Arizona is not such a far-fetched idea.

In honor of Nevada’s 150th anniversary, the Clark County Museum has set up an exhibit called “Welcome to Las Vegas, Arizona” that looks at the founding of Nevada and how close Clark County and Las Vegas were to being part of another state.

The exhibit includes photos and tidbits of information scheduled to be displayed until Oct. 31, 2014, in the lobby of the Clark County Museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway.

Hall-Patton said even though Nevada became a state in 1864, it didn’t have the same borders it does today.

“Nevada changed its eastern border twice and its southern border three times,” Hall-Patton said.

It wasn’t until 1867 that Southern Nevada was included in the borders.

Even after that, Hall-Patton said there was still confusion among residents as to which state they were in.

Hall-Patton said it wasn’t until 1869 when the area had its first visit from a public official — a tax collector — that things started to get sorted out.

“But the constitution wasn’t amended until 1982,” he said.

In the 1970s, the Nevada Supreme Court heard a few court cases in which criminals tried to get off because they committed crimes in the area — which they claimed wasn’t technically part of Nevada per its constitution.

Hall-Patton said despite clunky language in the constitution, the court determined that those criminals still committed crimes in Nevada.

“But (the court) suggested the legislature finally change the language,” he said.

Hall-Patton added that if Southern Nevada were part of another state, there probably wouldn’t be Henderson, Nellis Air Force Base or dozens of other institutions.

“The Las Vegas Valley we know today would be dramatically different if Clark County hadn’t become part of the Silver State,” he said. “We’d be a much smaller community, probably more along the lines of St. George, Utah or Kingman, Ariz., than the 2 million-plus population we are today.”

In addition to the exhibit, which opened Oct. 31, the museum was also scheduled to dedicate the Union Pacific Railroad cottage, a project that has been 13 years in the making, on Nov. 16 as part of the 150th celebration.

Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow was scheduled to speak at the dedication.

“The cottage is a must-see attraction for anyone who appreciates our local history,” she said. “It has been a labor of love among hundreds of dedicated professionals and volunteers to preserve and renovate this cottage for public viewing.”

The cottage, which originally stood at 521 Third St. in Las Vegas, was used by railroad workers in the 1900s.

In 2002, the museum acquired it in hopes of renovating it as part of its collection on Heritage Street, a collection of restored historic buildings that depict life from different eras in Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.

After waiting for funding to finalize, work began in July to get rid of lead paint and asbestos in the house.

The inside has also been restored to showcase how the original inhabitants would have lived.

“When you walk inside the front door, you’ll be able to see the living room, a bedroom, kitchen and a bathroom and get a wonderful sense of how families lived here near the turn of the 20th century,” Scow said.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and children. For more information, call 702-455-7955.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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