Step back in time through Las Vegas' past at Boomtown 1905

News 3 presents many stories about the rich history of the Las Vegas Valley. Starting Feb. 5, locals and visitors alike have a chance to go beyond the video and interviews for an interactive experience with what it was like to live here a century ago.

It's called "Boomtown 1905” and is at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

"We're trying to interpret 1905 to 1920," says curator Aaron Micallef. "So just after the city's founding and just before the Union Pacific relocated its depot and machine shop up north to Caliente."

The Spanish mission-style depot that is the centerpiece of boomtown is a scale model of the original, which was at Main and Fremont. But the railroad cottages lining one side of the street are the real deal.

"The Springs Preserve brought the railroad cottages over to the Springs Preserve in 2005," explains Micallef. “We finished the historic preservation in 2011. And from then, we added the rest of the town site to kind of fill out the visitor experience."

Since Las Vegas began as a rail town, you'll have the option of arriving on a rubber wheeled mockup of the San Pedro Los Angeles and Salt Lake line, which predated Union Pacific in this area.

"All the buildings with one exception are based on an actual business or location," notes Micallef. "And that one exception is the Mercantile or General Store.

The mercantile’s shelves are well-stocked with goods you would find for sale here a century ago.

Another key building is the First State Bank.

"It was kind of thought of as the financial rock for the community," muses Micallef. "And most new communities felt they had made it when they had a good strong bank."

And the man behind the counter rose to became a pillar of early Las Vegas Society.

"Its earliest cashier was a man named John S. Park," says Micallef. "There's a school as well as a historic district named after him here in Las Vegas."

On the other end of the legitimacy scale, there is a small taste of the infamous "Block 16," where various unlawful vices were practiced while authorities looked the other way.

"The Arizona Club was the premiere gambling hall, also saloon, here in Las Vegas with a little bit of brothel activity later on,” said Micallef.

Micallef notes the scene was wild at some other nearby clubs.

"But the Arizona Club was known as the queen of Block 16, because of the fine architecture and the leaded glass at front and the back of the bar,” said Micallef.

All the original commercial businesses represented long ago went the way of the wrecking ball, with one notable exception: The Lincoln Hotel, which dates back to 1910.

"It was built to have 22 rooms, and it was eventually renamed the Victory Hotel and that is currently still standing in downtown Las Vegas on Main Street just north of Bonneville," said Micallef.

While you enjoy a rich experience walking down the streets and looking at the buildings, these are not just facades. Feel free to step inside several of them.

"The interior of one of the railroad cottages, as well as the depot, the hotel, the outdoor Majestic Theater, the Arizona Club, our general store or mercantile, as well as the First State Bank,” lists Micallef.

"Boomtown 1905" opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5. The price is included in regular admission to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

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