From Native American Trail to Interstate Exit

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From Native American Trail to Interstate Exit

A local history of passage

The earliest desert routes in the West followed water. Having drinking water for person or pack animal was critical in negotiating the extreme heat and rugged terrain. Springs of water are located near where you stand and elsewhere in the vicinity of Leeds. Until the 1900s, these springs were significant features in defining early travel routes for travelers in this part of the West.

Native Americans, the Paiutes or Pah-utes, lived in the Leeds area along Leeds Creek. Pah is the native word for water. The Paiutes were somewhat nomadic, traveling along routes where life-giving water was available. The earliest pathways in the Leeds area were those of the Paiutes and their ancestors.

Fur traders, trappers, and explorers used the trails as well. In the 1860s, as the Mormons began settling southern Utah, the area that would eventually become Leeds was known as Road Valley. The springs were the site of a wagon rest stop. After Leeds was settled in
the 1860s, its main street became part of the route connecting Salt Lake to St. George and other Mormon settlements in southern Utah.

When silver was discovered in the early 1870s at nearby Silver Reef, a symbiotic  relationship between the new little farming community and the mining town was born.
Farmers sold their produce to the residents of Silver Reef. Residences, a church, dance
hall, mercantile, boarding house, and other businesses sprang up along the main road in Leeds. For several decades, the economy of southwestern Utah thrived as a result of this
interdependence of farming and mining.

With the advent of the automobile in the early 1900s, long-distance travel became more common. In the early days of the automobile, the road through Leeds became part of a route known as the Arrowhead Trail. In 1926 the federal system of numbered highways was initiated, and the Arrowhead Trail became known as U.S. Highway 91. In 1931 the final stretch of Highway 91 from Harrisburg through Leeds to Toquerville Junction was paved. The highway became the major route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Well into the 1950s, travelers continued to pass through Leeds. The small Main Street businesses were utilized by residents and travelers alike.

In 1956, with a good paved highway and faster automobile travel, the residents of Leeds started sending their children to St. George to school. Many Leeds residents worked and shopped in St. George as well. In 1964 the section of Interstate Highway 15 was completed parallel to Leeds, officially retiring Highway 91 as the major route. Leeds was reduced to just another interstate exit. The change brought more residential tranquility to the center of town but produced an economic coma for the local businesses. Over the
next several years, Main Street became almost exclusively a residential street with only a few businesses.

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The Leeds Tithing Office

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This building, built in 1891-92, was the Leeds Tithing Office. The building was most likely constructed by the renowned stone masons of the era, Willard McMullin and Sons.

The settlers of Leeds were almost exclusively members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. Tithing, a pivotal expression of Mormon religious devotion, consists of donating 10 percent of a family’s income to the church.

In pioneer times, a settler’s wealth was not typically interpreted in terms of cash. For tithing purposes, wealth was commonly measured in terms of produce, products, or even service. Many families paid tithing “in kind” with peaches, corn, figs, apricots, bottled meat, etc. In many communities a tithing office was established to collect, store, and redistribute the donated goods to those in need. The Leeds Tithing Office was equipped
with bins and barrels for storage and a set of scales for weighing produce.

Of the several early tithing offices built in the region, the Leeds building is the only remaining example of a stone tithing office that still stands with its original stone walls.

The in-kind tithing system was retired in the early 1900s.

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From Ditches to Pipes

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Water is life… The shovel is divine

From Ditches to Pipes

The use and control of water controls the future

The earliest settlers in Leeds used innovation and hard work to divert water from Leeds Creek to their homes, fields, and industry. The town pioneers carefully studied the lay of the land between the creek and the settlement and selected a route that would transport the water to Leeds. The lowly hand shovel was their “divine tool.” Digging ditches with pick and shovel and teams of work horses across the rocky terrain was hard and seemingly endless work. Ingenuity was required in keeping the path of the ditch in a
downhill direction to maintain water flow. Building a good ditch system took clever minds, strong backs, and great determination.

The Leeds Water Company was established in the late 1800s to legally secure and organize rights to use local water, a historically controversial and difficult task in the arid West.

The main ditch carried Leeds Creek water to the northeastern edge of the town. From that point, ditches conveyed the water to town lots and beyond to the nearby agricultural fields. Prized lots in Leeds were those that fronted the ditch, especially lots that were closest to the beginning of the ditch, where pollutants from upstream use of the water were fewer.

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Stirling Home

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2017-05-13 17.44.56Stiring Home

Built c. 1876 of red brick by Samuel Worthen and sons for William Stirling, one of the first settlers of Leeds.  Fine example of “Dixie Dormers” unique to Southern Utah.  Marker placed 1973 by Mrs. David Stirling and Family.

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William Stirling, a prominent and early settler of Leeds, came into what seemed, for
the times, a fortune. Stirling, a farmer and winemaker, was also the chief executive
officer for the Leeds Water Company. In 1872, on a cold winter day while riding his
horse through Silver Reef, he observed that the Christy Mill, a five-stamp silver ore
processing mill, was overheating as a result of the routine water supply freezing solid.
An explosion was inevitable. He moved swiftly into action, opening head gates which
directed water from the Leeds ditch system to cool the overheating mill. A disaster was
averted. The owners of the Christy Mill demonstrated their gratitude to Stirling by placing him on the payroll with a handsome salary for a year with no expectation that he
work for the wage. Stirling used the wage to build this two-story brick home.

The Stirling home was built in 1876 by Samuel Worthen and Sons at a cost of
about $5,000. The house exemplifies well the “Dixie Dormer” upper floor
windows, which were a popular architectural design of the day. Eldon Stirling,
grandson of Sarah Ann and William Stirling, lived in the home during the latter
part of the twentieth century. He updated the woodwork on the porch and
balconies in the early 1980s, hand turning on a lathe all the balusters for the
railings

William Stirling played an important role in the history of early Leeds and the
short existence of Silver Reef (1875 to 1889). After the silver boom declined,
Stirling realized that many of the empty wooden buildings still standing in
Silver Reef could be “mined.” In 1895 he purchased and moved the vacant St.
John’s Catholic Church of Silver Reef to Leeds. He converted the building into
the Leeds Social Hall or “Old Stirling Hall.” Plays, variety shows, dances, and
many festive activities took place in the building. People came from a wide
area to enjoy the performances. The building, which was located on Main
Street, no longer stands today.(*)

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Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum

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The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum is located at Brigham Young University. The museum was opened to the public in 1978, is accredited by the American Association of Museums and maintains membership in the Natural Science Collections Alliance. Research collections of vascular and non vascular plants, invertebrate and vertebrate animals are maintained and made available to research scientists and educators. Public exhibits and educational programs are offered.  Admission is free.

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The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1848: The Journey of Death

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At this location on the Old Spanish Trail you are standing at the midpoint of the infamous jornada el muerte or journey of death.  Many travelers regarded the parched landscape as the most difficult stretch of the entire journey.  This 55 mile stretch began at Muddy River near Glendale and ended at Las Vegas Springs.  It was the longest, driest stretch of the entire trail.

In 1844, John C. Fremont and his party traveled north from Las Vegas Springs.  He wrote about it in his journal.  “We crossed a gap in the surrounding ridge and the appearance of skeletons of horses very soon warned that we were engaged in another dry jornada, which proved to be the longest we had in all our jounrey — between fifty and sixty miles without a drop of water…  Hourly expecting to find water, we continued to press on until towards midnight, when, after a hard and uninterrupted march of sixteen hours, our wild mules began running ahead; and in a mile or two we came to a bold running stream…”

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Old Spanish Trail

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(From Wikipedia) The Old Spanish Trail is an historical trade route that connected the northern New Mexico settlements of (or near) Santa Fe, New Mexico with those of Los Angeles, California and southern California. Approximately 700 mi  long, the trail ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. It is considered one of the most arduous of all trade routes ever established in the United States. Explored, in part, by Spanish explorers as early as the late 16th century, the trail saw extensive use by pack trains from about 1830 until the mid-1850s.

The name of the trail comes from the publication of John C. Frémont’s Report of his 1844 journey for the U.S. Topographical Corps., guided by Kit Carson, from California to New Mexico. The name acknowledges the fact that parts of the trail had been known to the Spanish since the 16th century.  Frémont’s report named a trail that had already been in use for about 15 years. The trail is important to New Mexico history because it established an arduous but usable trade route with California.

Armijo Route

The Armijo Route of the Old Spanish Trail was established by an expedition led by Antonio Armijo in 1829-1830. Leaving on November 7, 1829 Armijo’s expedition traveled a route northwest and west of Santa Fe from Abiquiu, following the Chama River and the Puerco River, and crossed to the San Juan River basin. From the San Juan they entered the Four Corners area, passed north of the Carrizo Mountains to Church Rock, east of present-day Kayenta. The trail then ran to Marsh Pass and north through Tsegi Canyon into canyon country and to the Colorado River (then called the Rio Grande), where the travelers forded at the Crossing of the Fathers above present day Glen Canyon Dam.

Continuing west to Pipe Spring and on to Virgin River above present day St. George, Utah, the expedition then followed the Virgin to the mouth of the Santa Clara River, which they followed up to the vicinity of the Shivwits Reservation. They then crossed southward over the Beaver Dam Mountains, at Utah Hill Summit to the Virgin River again, which they followed for three days down to the Colorado River, before turning west parallel to the river, over difficult terrain in the Black Mountains, to avoid the deep narrow gorge of Boulder Canyon, to the riverside oases of Callville Wash and Las Vegas Wash. Armijo waited there for his scouts to return, especially Rivera who had visited the Mohave villages down river before. Rivera returned, having recognized the Mohave Trail that led westward to Southern California. Perhaps because of the belligerence of the Mohave to parties of mountain men in recent years, or merely to save time, Armijo attempted a short cut route southwest to the mouth of the Mojave River.

From Las Vegas Wash on the Colorado River, Armijo’s expedition passed southwestward to Dry Lake in Eldorado Valley and the spring at Goodsprings Valley, then through Wilson Pass, across Mesquite Valley and California Valley, through Emigrant Pass to Resting Springs, then along the Amargosa River from near Tecopa to Salt Spring. From Salt Spring they crossed a two-day-long waterless stretch up Salt Creek to Laguna del Milagro (“Lake of the Miracle”), (probably Silver Lake), then to Ojito del Malpais (“little spring of the badlands”) on Soda Lake, then another waterless day beyond Soda Lake, where they reached the only intermittently dependable Mojave River and the Mohave Trail leading up river.

By now short of food, Armijo sent some of his scouts ahead to get more food in the settlement at San Bernardino de Sena Estancia. They followed the river for six days (110 miles to its head from the mouth), having to kill a mule or horse each day to eat. Probably at Summit Valley at the top of the river, east of Cajon Pass they met vaqueros of the San Bernardino de Sena Estancia with food. Armijo did not cross over the mountains by the Mohave Trail route over Monument Peak, but followed a route he called “Cañon de San Bernardino” from the upper Mojave River west through Cajon Pass and down Crowder Canyon and Cajon Canyon to the mouth of Cajon Pass, where the trail reached the coastal plain of San Bernardino Valley, a route no doubt known to the vaqueros of San Bernardino Estancia.

Once through the pass, they turned west along the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains for two days to San Jose Creek, then following it to cross the San Gabriel River at the Rancho La Puente, reaching Mission San Gabriel Arcángel on January 30, 1830. Armijo returned by the same route between March 1 and April 25, 1830. He submitted a brief journal of his journey (itemizing the days with names of places where camps were made but with no distances) to the government of New Mexico, and it was published by the Mexican government in June 1830.

Main Route

The Main Route (also referred to as the Central Route or the Northern Route) of the Old Spanish Trail avoided territory of the Navajo, (who had returned to a state of hostilities after Armijo’s trip), and the more difficult canyon country traversed by the Armijo Route around the Colorado River. First traveled in 1830 by a party led by William Wolfskill and George Yount, this route ran northwest from Santa Fe through southwestern Colorado, past the San Juan Mountains, Mancos, and Dove Creek, entering Utah near present-day Monticello. The trail then proceeded north through difficult terrain (see Kane Springs) to Spanish Valley near today’s Moab, Utah, where a ferry crossed the deep and wide Colorado River and then turned northwest to a ferry crossing on the similarly sized and dangerous Green River near present-day Green River, Utah. The route then passed through (or around) the San Rafael Swell, the northernmost reach of the Trail. Entering the Great Basin in Utah via Salina Creek Canyon, the trail turned southwest following the Sevier, Santa Clara, Virgin Rivers to the north bank of the Colorado River. There they could follow the Colorado River to Las Vegas Wash, then south through the Eldorado Valley and Piute Valley to join the Mojave Trail, west of the Mohave villages (below modern Laughlin) and followed the route between the springs along the Mojave Trail to Soda Lake and the Mojave River. Later caravans could alternatively follow the Armijo Route diverting southwestward from the Colorado at Las Vegas Wash, to Resting Springs and to the Mojave River where it joined the Wolfskill/Yount Route, following that river upward to and over the San Bernardino Mountains through Cajon Pass, Crowder Canyon and lower Cajon Canyon and across the coastal valleys to Mission San Gabriel and Los Angeles.

North Route

The North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail was established by traders and trappers using Indian and Spanish colonial routes. It ran from Sante Fe north to Taos and on north into the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Caravans then headed west to today’s Saguache, crossing over the Continental Divide at Cochetopa Pass, and then through present day Gunnison and Montrose to the Uncompahgre Valley. The trail then followed the Gunnison River to today’s Grand Junction, where the Colorado River was forded, and then on west to join the Main Route just east of the Green River. The North Branch later became an interest of explorers seeking viable routes for a transcontinental railroad along the 38th parallel. In 1853 alone, three separate expeditions explored the North Branch over Cochetopa Pass. These groups were led, in order, by Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Captain John Williams Gunnison, and John C. Frémont.

 

The Venetian

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See also:

In April 1996, Sheldon Adelson announced plans to create on the property the largest resort on the Strip. This project would be situated on the former Sands property. On November 26, 1996, eight years after it was purchased by the owners of The Interface Group – Adelson, Richard Katzeff, Ted Cutler, Irwin Chafetz and Jordan Shapiro, the Sands Hotel was imploded to make way for The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Groundbreaking for the hotel began on April 14, 1997.

The resort opened on May 3, 1999, with flutter of white doves, sounding trumpets and singing gondoliers, with actress Sophia Loren joining The Venetian Chairman and Owner, Sheldon G. Adelson, in dedicating the first motorized gondola. Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, it was one of the most expensive resorts of its kind when it opened.

On June 27, 2003, the 1,013-room Venezia Tower opened. It was built on top of the garage parking lot.

In 2010, it was announced that it will be affiliated with InterContinental Hotels Group.

In October 2011, the Cantor Race & Sportsbook opened, which was the only Las Vegas sportsbook that was open for 24 hours a day. On June 11, 2012, the Venetian opened Carnevale, a summer-long festival that is anchored by a nightly 3-D projection show on the clock tower. In September 2012, The Blue Man Group show closed and relocated to the Monte Carlo, after being at the Venetian for six years.(from Wikipedia)

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