Las Vegas, New Mexico

Post by Kristy McCaffrey
When you hear Las Vegas you immediately think of the gambling mecca in Nevada, but there is another. Las Vegas, New Mexico—located east of Santa Fe—was established in 1835 on the Gallinas River, near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail and was 30 miles from Fort Union, a large Army outpost.
Fort Union


Las Vegas had a unique combination of Spanish and Anglo traditions, known for the balls and church socials held by the Anglo families and the fandangos, or neighborhood dances, and fiestas held by the Spanish community.


Las Vegas Saloon


The railroad arrived in 1879 and Las Vegas soon became one of the largest cities in the American southwest. The sophisticated town supported an opera house, social and literary clubs, an orchestra and a theater. But Las Vegas also had a reputation for rowdiness, and had its fair share of gamblers, hoodlums, and fallen women. Infamous characters such as Doc Holliday and his companion Big Nose Kate as well as Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Wyatt Earp all passed through in the late 19th century. The area later became known as a resort town because of its dry, temperate climate and the hot springs north of town, attracting wealthy patrons from as far off as Europe. These luxury resorts flourished during the 1880’s and early 1890’s.


Many movies have been filmed here beginning with silent western films (1913-1915) to Easy Rider, Convoy, Wyatt Earp (starring Kevin Costner), All the Pretty Horses (with Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz), No Country for Old Men (with Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem) and Paul (with Simon Pegg and Kristen Wiig).
Kristy’s second book THE DOVE takes place in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1877. The heroine, Claire Waters, lives at The White Dove Saloon with her mother and young brother. When the hero, Logan Ryan, finds her he mistakes her for a saloon girl, but her real desire is to become a doctor.
Works Cited
Gottschalk, M.C. Pioneer Merchants of the Las Vegas Plaza. Local printing, 2000.





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