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.
Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold by Judith Nye
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
Father Garces crosses Colorado River at the site of
1852 Steamboats begin traveling Colorado River.
Lt. Edward Beale surveys tri-state area for government.
Camels were used to deliver the mail.
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.
Katherine Mine discovered.
1902 Reclamation Services investigates new dam site
in Pyramid Canyon.
Davis Dam Project
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
1966 Federal government turns the first 4,000 of 15,000 acres
over to the state of Nevada to be administered by the
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
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 motel
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
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
Margaret Elardi, who rebuilt the casino and added some 160 rooms.
The grand opening on New Year's eve 1979 brought new interest to
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.
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
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