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Laughlin, Nevada History

Laughlin's History is very unique in this modern time. Much like the towns of yesteryear, Laughlin became a reality from the forethought of a few people. Laughlin, Nevada growth has made it the latest of Nevada's boomtowns.

The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold by Judith Nye

Laughlin Timeline:

900BC  Patayan and Anasazi Indians inhabit Colorado River area.

1200  Mojave Indians plant crops along river banks.

1540  Spanish explorer Melchi Diaz travels through tri- state area.

1776  Father Garces crosses Colorado River at the site of  Katherine Landing.

1852  Steamboats begin traveling Colorado River.

1857  Lt. Edward Beale surveys tri-state area for government. Camels were used to deliver the mail.

1858  Lt. J.C. Ives names Pyramid Canyon, later selected as site of Davis Dam, during the survey of the Colorado River.

1863  Extensive mining begins in tri-state area.

1864  William Harrison Hardy founded Hardyville, on the AZ side, a major supply center and river port.

1900  Katherine Mine discovered.

1902  Reclamation Services investigates new dam site in Pyramid Canyon.

1930  Davis Dam Project authorized.

1931  Gambling legalized in Nevada. Thanks Bugsy!

1935  Hoover Dam dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1942  Construction starts and stops on Davis Dam; last steamboat runs the Colorado River; last precious metal taken from Katherine Mine. Bullhead City is created.

1946  Construction resumes on Davis Dam

1953  Davis Dam finished; Bull Head Rock becomes submerged by Lake Mohave, just north of the Dam.

1966  Federal government turns the first 4,000 of 15,000 acres over to the state of Nevada to be administered by the Colorado River Commission. It is known as the Fort Mohave Valley Development Law. The law was signed in 1959.

1966  Southern California Edison acquires 2,500 acres of land for construction of a coal-fed power plant.

1966  Don Laughlin buys and opens Riverside Resort.

1967  Second casino, Bobcat Club opens in Laughlin. Later becomes the Nevada Club and evolves into Golden Nugget - Laughlin. Southern California Edison Co. begins construction on generating plant.

1968  Third casino the Monte Carlo (Crystal Palace) opens. U.S. postal inspector officially names Laughlin.

1979  Colorado Club (Pioneer Hotel) opens.

1980  Regency opens. Bullhead pop.10,000. Laughlin pop. 80

1982  Edgewater opens.

1984  Sam's Town Casino opens.

1986  William G. Bennett Elementary school opens

1987  Laughlin Branch of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District opens.

1987  Colorado Belle opens. Laughlin Bridge opens.

1988  Ramada Express opens.

1988  Harrah's Laughlin opens.

1990  Flamingo Hilton Laughlin opens. Bullhead City population 25,000. Laughlin population 4,791

1991  New airport facility opens to accommodate commercial flights. First high school opens, Laughlin High School.  Gold River opens.

1993  First jet lands at airport. Don Laughlin, Bob Cashell sign agreements with Fort Mohave Tribe to run casinos on reservation land. Laughlin population 7,500; Bullhead City, 27,000

1995  Riverside Resort completes new tower adding approx. 1000 more rooms and a non-smoking casino area

1995  Avi Resort opens operated by the Fort Mohave Tribe. Colorado River Internet opens and gets Laughlin connected to the Internet.

1997  Horizon Outlet Mall opens bringing 52 retail stores and Stadium 9 Cineplex

1998  Avi Resort opens 18 hole golf course. Gold River Hotel becomes the River Palms Hotel and Casino. Construction begins at the Riverside Resort for a 34 lane bowling center to be completed by Jan.1999

1999  Riverside Lanes opens Jan 29th

1999  Plans are announced for the addition of 2 new casinos. Tentative plans call for a Mall/Theater/Casino to be built south of Harrah's Del Rio Resort. The 2nd Casino will be located on the land behind the Ramada Express.

2000 Laughlin pop. 7076

2006 Flamingo Laughlin sold, reopens as Aquarius Casino Resort

The gaming industry in Laughlin, 20 years ago, was the Riverside Bait Shop and the Bobcat Club. The area was called "South Pointe", because it's location being the most southerly portion of Clark County and Nevada. Davis Dam had been completed in the 1950's with most of the housing being located on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. The Nevada side consisted of these two small clubs and some fishing camps. Basically, nothing was happening on the Nevada side of the river.

In 1965, Don Laughlin bought the Riverside and Oddie Lopp bought the Bobcat Club. The Riverside became a full sized casino with motelClick to enlarge Copyright Protected Photo rooms and the Bobcat Club was renamed the Nevada Club. Parking lots were built on the Arizona side of the river and Taxi boats started carrying passengers to the casinos. Irwin Soper and Jack Cleveland built the Monte Carlo (later named Crystal Palace and now just a burnt out building owned by Don) and that was the start of Laughlin, Nevada. The casinos prospered, flourished and expanded.

At the same time (in the late-sixties), the State of Nevada acquired a huge piece of property from the federal government. Federal and state legislation established the Fort Mohave project for the disposal of this property. Some of the land was sold to developers and partially developed, but the most of the sold land just sat there or was returned to the state under the Colorado River Commission, which had jurisdiction over the Fort Mohave lands. The Cal Edison Company purchased 16 acres for the construction of a major generating plant. (the large smoke stack that can be seen from miles away). Cal Ed. used the water from the river for cooling and coal from the Black Mountains area of Arizona, brought in through a slurry pipeline for almost three hundred miles, to maintain it's operation. Nevada Power Company participated in the project.

By the early 70's, thirty condos had been constructed and the population soar to almost one hundred people. The three casinos continued to grow, but at a slow pace. Then in '77, the Colorado Hotel (now the Pioneer Club) was started. Shortly thereafter, the Regency was begun and then the old Colorado Belle was built. This attracted other investors and a Las Vegas group built the Edgewater Hotel, a seven story building, in 1979. The Colorado Hotel was sold to Margaret Elardi, who rebuilt the casino and added some 160 rooms. The grand opening on New Year's eve 1979 brought new interest to Laughlin.

Circus Circus, Inc. bought the Edgewater and then acquired the old Colorado Belle, demolishing the building and adding 350 rooms to their hotel. The growth of gaming in Edgewater totaled 600 rooms and the Pioneer had 414 rooms. Sam's Town was built with 225 rooms. Click to enlarge Copyright Protected Photo

July 4, 1987 Circus Circus took the Colorado Belle Name and built the largest casino and most rooms (1,225) on the river. With the addition of the Ramada Express ,Harrah's and Flamingo Hilton the future of Laughlin is assured. Gaming growth has continued at thirty to forty percent per year.

Since 1988 the Riverside, Harrah's Laughlin, Ramada Express, and Edgewater Hotels have more than doubled their room capacities with the addition of new towers. In 1996 The Fort Mohave Indian Tribe completed their resort and have since added a full service marina and 18 hole golf course. 1997 brought the new Horizon Outlet Mall with 52 retail stores and the Stadium 9 Cineplex, all under one air conditioned roof.

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