While many visitors may think of Las Vegas as a place that’s all about what’s new, a local museum is working to change that.
The 50-year-old Clark County Museum, about 20 miles from the Strip along Boulder Highway, upholds the city’s history. And it’s one of the best values around.
Las Vegas’ history as a city may date back only 113 years, but those years are well documented on sprawling grounds to which a number of significant buildings have been relocated over the decades. Many of them sit along what’s called Heritage Street.
One of the classics is a 1930s home with a mix of architectural styles that defies description. The Goumond House, erected in what was a small town during the Great Depression, spoke to the wealth of Prosper Goumond, the owner of a local casino and a dude ranch.
Visitors find the stylish house furnished with 1950s decor. There’s even a 1959 Studebaker Lark — curiously, the same green color as the exterior trim of the house — parked in the carport.
A much older car sits outside Cabin 14, from a long-gone Las Vegas motor court. It was built in the 1930s as car travel started to become popular, luring people to the desert gaming mecca.
Plenty of gaming memorabilia can be found in the museum’s main building. After all, the city is best known for its gambling halls. They began in downtown Las Vegas before spreading south along the dusty Los Angeles Highway.
Now a world-famous tourist attraction called the Strip, the highway — later renamed Las Vegas Boulevard — got its first hotel-casinos in the 1940s and ‘50s. In front of the Last Frontier hotel sat a mock pioneer village, a tourist attraction whose general store has been moved to the museum.
(The early resort was demolished roughly 10 years ago. The land is now a vacant lot across the street from Wynn-Encore casino-resorts, which has plans to develop the property.)
Aside from casinos, Las Vegas Boulevard is also studded with wedding chapels, one of which was moved to the museum 11 years ago to make way for the failed Fontainebleau resort project.
Restored to its original look, the Candlelight Wedding Chapel contains mannequins representing a bride and groom as well as members of their wedding party.
The Candlelight was where a number of celebrities got hitched during the decades when celebrities often used such chapels.
A copy of Bette Midler’s wedding certificate from 1984 is on display. Others who were wed there include actors Michael Caine and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as singer Barry White.
While passenger trains no longer rumble through Southern Nevada, Las Vegas was once a big railroad town, a watering stop along the tracks between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
The era of train travel is well-represented at the museum, where several rail cars are open to the public beside the old depot from nearby Boulder City.
Indoors, displays range from a telegrapher’s post to the elegant cutlery and dishes once used in Union Pacific dining cars.
The museum’s newest exhibit, one exploring the aftermath of the mass shooting Oct. 1 along the Strip, is quickly growing in size.
While a handful of artifacts are on display, thousands more, many of them tributes to the 58 people who died while attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival, are being archived by museum staff.
As they sift through everything from thank you cards sent to police officers to images of the makeshift memorials, the workers document each item and make them available in an online gallery.
The Clark County Museum is open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children and seniors.
Info: Clark County Museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson, Nev.; (702) 455-7955