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Friday, June 20, 2008

Las Vegas


Prehistoric Southern Nevada was a virtual marsh of abundant water and vegetation.
As eons passed, the marsh receded. Rivers disappeared beneath the surface. The once teeming wetlands evolved into a parched, arid landscape that supported only the hardiest of plants and animals. Water trapped underground in the complicated geologic formations of the Las Vegas Valley sporadically surfaced to nourish luxuriant plants, creating an oasis in the desert as the life- giving water flowed to the Colorado River.
Construction workers in 1993 discovered the remains of a Columbian mammoth that roamed the area during prehistoric times. Paleontologists estimate the bones to be 8,000 to 15,000 years old. Hidden for centuries from all but native Americans, the Las Vegas Valley oasis was protected from discovery by the surrounding harsh and unforgiving Mojave Desert.
Mexican trader Antonio Armijo, leading a 60-man party along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles in 1829, veered from the accepted route.
While Armijo's caravan was camped Christmas Day about 100 miles northeast of present day Las Vegas, a scouting party rode west in search of water. An experienced young Mexican scout, Rafael Rivera, left the main party and ventured into the unexplored desert. Within two weeks, he discovered Las Vegas Springs.

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