Excerpt from “Chapter 6 – Las Vegas”

The Jolly Roger: An Airman’s Tale of Survival in World War II by William C. Atkinson

Excerpt from “Chapter 6 – Las Vegas”:

In the early 1800’s, westward expansionists were in search of a suitable route from New Mexico and Colorado to southern California. As much of the region was desert, water along the route was of paramount importance. In 1829, a Mexican party hired by a wealthy New Mexico merchant, followed a tributary of the Colorado River and came upon a lush, green valley nourished by a labyrinth of artesian wells. They named the valley Las Vegas, Spanish for “The Fertile Valleys.” The area became an important oasis on the otherwise dry desert route, and a must-stop for travelers en route to California. The town of Las Vegas was born.

In 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam began and resulted in the production of hydroelectric power, thus providing Las Vegas with an abundance of electrical power. During the construction of the dam, the town’s population grew to approximately 25,000, comprised primarily of male workers. As a result, hotels, gaming establishments and entertainment venues opened, and, inevitably, prostitution flourished. The town leaders had little choice but to legalize the activities.