Tour #25: Las Vegas, New Mexico

Sunday, June 30, 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM Tour Price: $99

There will be guided tours of the Harvey House #1 - Montezuma Castle, the Dwan Light Sanctuary, Harvey House #2 - La Castenada. Lunch is on your own at Charlie’s Bakery and Café. View exterior buildings architecture including the Train Station, Rawlins Building (Harvey Girls Housing), Roundhouse, Plaza Buildings, Plaza Hotel and Longmire Sherrif’s office.

Las Vegas is a city in and the county seat of San Miguel County. Once Las Vegas was two separate municipalities (one a city and the other a town), both were named Las Vegas‐West Las Vegas (“Old Town”) and East Las Vegas (“New Town”)‐are separated by the Gallinas River and retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts.


Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. During the Mexican‐American War in 1846, Stephen W. Kearny delivered an address at the Plaza of Las Vegas claiming New Mexico for the United States. In 1877 Las Vegas College, the precursor to Regis University, was founded in Las Vegas by a group of exiled Italian Jesuits. In 1887, Las Vegas College moved to Denver whereupon the name was changed.

A railroad was constructed to the town in 1880. To maintain control of development rights, it established a station and related development one mile east of the Plaza, creating a separate, rival New Town, as occurred elsewhere in the Old West. The same competing development occurred in Albuquerque, for instance. During the railroad era Las Vegas boomed, quickly becoming one of the largest cities in the American Southwest. Turn-of-the-century Las Vegas featured all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway, the “Duncan Opera House” at the northeast corner of 6th Street and Douglas Avenue, a Carnegie library, the Hotel Castaneda (a major Harvey House), and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University). Since the decline and restructuring of the railroad industry began in the 1950s, the city’s population has remained relatively constant. Although the two towns have been combined, separate school districts have been maintained (Las Vegas City Schools and West Las Vegas School District).

Rail Station

AF&SF 2-6-2 Locomotive #1129

Intermodel Facility

Castaneda Hotel

Old Town, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NM website


One-way Driving time: 2 hours.

Tour includes: Round-trip motor coach transportation, breakfast on the bus, tickets, guides, taxes and gratuity. Lunch at Charlie’s Bakery and Café on your own.

Special Wear: None