About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Las Vegas Mormon Fort (with photographs), materials from Nevada State Parks, and other sources in Nevada and Utah related to the fort and the expansion of the Mormons. The lesson was written by Dr. Linda Miller, a retired secondary social studies teacher and adjunct at the Community College of Southern Nevada. The lesson was edited by the staff at the Teaching with Historic Places program and historians in Las Vegas. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
This lesson was produced in 2005, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Las Vegas and the 150th anniversary of the building of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history and social studies units on Manifest Destiny and the expansion of the West, especially as a case study on Mormon expansion, and women's history. This lesson could also be used in units on relations between American Indians and European Americans.
Time period: Mid 19th century to early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To describe why the Mormons came to Las Vegas, what they hoped to accomplish, and what experiences they shared in establishing an outpost.
2) To list at least four factors--including the arrival of the Mormons--that influenced the stability and growth of the initial Las Vegas settlement into a permanent community and explain the importance of each to westward expansion.
3) To describe the experience of Helen Stewart, one of the first non-native women inhabiting the Las Vegas Valley, and outline her contributions to the area.
4) To research and report on the history of local historic places that help tell the story of their own community's origins and development.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) three maps showing the western part of the U.S. and the location of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort;
2) three readings tracing the development of Las Vegas beginning with the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort;
3) two excerpts from a missionary's letter and Helen Stewart's letters;
4) four photographs showing how the fort changed over time and Helen Stewart;
5) one historical drawing of the area;
6) one historical painting of the fort.
Visiting the site
The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is administered by Nevada State Parks. It is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, north of the downtown area at the corner of Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard. The park's entrance is on Washington Street at 500 East Washington, next to the Natural History Museum on Las Vegas Boulevard. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is an admission price to enter the park. Guided tours are available upon request. For more information write to Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Park, 500 East Washington Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, or call 702-486-3511, or visit the park's website.