Rancho Drive’s history dates to World War II, when a path was needed to connect war-related materials coming from the north or Ely with Henderson .
“Some came from trains, but also a lot came by trucks,” Clark County Museum administrator Mark Hall-Patton said. “ They built a bypass there rather than go through downtown Las Vegas.”
Rancho Drive was probably named for an estate in the area, he said.
Before that, it was known as the Tonopah Highway because it was slated to connect with the northern valley .
Originally, the path was part of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Rail road , and the state bought the land in 1919 when the company went out of business. The railroad was owned by William Andrews Clark, the county’s namesake, and was built during the mining boom in Tonopah, Hall-Patton said.
The land had to be adjusted for a 3 percent grade to be fit for a railroad, he said.
“They basically bought the road bed and right-of-way,” he said.
When Hall-Patton drives the road northbound, he said he can still spot where railroad tracks were once laid.
Rancho Drive, the main arterial connecting Centennial Hills with downtown Las Vegas, runs parallel with state Route 599 . The road divides North Las Vegas and Las Vegas .