chapter  1
30 Pages

Inventing Modern Las Vegas

IfNevadansseemedmorewillingtomindtheirownbusinessthanmost,

thisincipientlibertarianismwasaproductofthelimitsofitslandand

infrastructureinaharshclimate.

One-ownertownshadtheirdrawbacksforthepeoplewholivedin

them.Eventhoughtheyallowedlocalsconsiderableautonomyandleeway,

outsidepowermaintainedtremendouscontrol.EarlyLasVegaswaswiseto

heedandplacateitsmasters.Whenitdidn't,disasterresulted.Afterthe

UnionPacificpurchasein1921,thenewownerslaidoffworkers,earn-

ingtheireofthetown.Thenextyear,anopportunityaroseforrailroad

workerstopaybacktheirnewoverlords;workersshutLasVegasdowndur-

ingthenationalrailroadstrikeinI922.Thenewmasterswerenotamused.

Inretribution,theUnionPacificsignedthetown'sdeathwarrant:itmoved

themaintenanceshopandthreehundredjobstoCaliente,about125miles

uptracktowardUtah.Therailroadregimeendedasarbitrarilyashad

Ithadtoadapt-ordiminish,andfinallygounder.TheperiGdjust

followingtherailroadsdeparturewasthebleakestinmodernLasVegas'ti

shon'hewhistle-stopeasilycouldhavebecomeaghosttown.