City Cast

Happy Birthday, Clark County

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on June 30
Photo from 1909 of men gathered around a donkey

Fourth of July, Las Vegas, 1909. (UNLV Special Collections and Archives)

I wish I could hear what the man on the right was listening to; sadly, that antique donkeygram technology has been lost since this photo was taken, on July 4, 1909. (It was probably something about his donkey’s extended warranty.) I do know this: Just three days earlier, July 1, Clark County had been officially established. It was named after Sen. William Andrews Clark, who brought the trains to town.

So these folks had plenty to celebrate. They had Independence Day off — but only because it fell on a Sunday that year, as July 4 didn’t become a paid federal holiday until 1938 — and their county had taken an important step toward the future.

Obviously, more has changed in 114 years than just hat styles (though listening to asses is still regrettably common). The county’s population was around 3,000 then. Now, at 2.3 million, Clark is the nation’s 11th most populous county, accounting for 73% of Nevada’s population, yet just 7% of its land. The county government is the second largest in the state, after, well, the state.

Even the donkeys are impressed.

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