Kiel Ranch Historic Park is a 7-acre historic land located at the northeast corner of Commerce Drive and Carey Avenue in the tranquil Las Vegas Valley. The ranch is about 1.5 miles west of downtown North Las Vegas and is owned by the City of North Las Vegas. Kiel Ranch has small old houses that give a historical glimpse into the early development of Las Vegas in the 19th century. That's why Kiel Ranch is described as the "birthplace of Las Vegas." Of the two historic houses still standing one is touted as the second-oldest house in Las Vegas.
Desert grass and vegetation like cactus regardless of the fairly rocky ground grow at Kiel Ranch Historic Park plus lush trees that promote vibrant plant life under them. An active artesian spring credited with drawing the first settlers to Kiel is still there but overgrown with glass. This spring was once a natural swimming pool that was popular on the west side of the U.S and attracted visitors from as far as Los Angeles.
Kiel Ranch's existence explains Las Vegas then dubbed the Las Vegas valley's early beginnings. From 1100 AD the Southern Paiute tribe were Kiel's earliest inhabitants drawn here by the presence of springs and meadows in these desert plains. Their early presence was explained by the ancient artifacts excavated here. Kiel was the precursor to what is today famously known as Las Vegas.
Becoming Las Vegas
Las Vegas was named so by a 60 men group with mule caravans led by Antonio Armijo a Mexican trader from Santa Fe New Mexico. In 1829 as the group moved from New Mexico to Los Angeles then the Spanish Trail, they camped around 100 miles northeast of present-day Las Vegas. From the group, a few went out to search for water in the unexplored vast desert. But Rafael Rivera a young Mexican scout drifted away from the group towards the west of the Colorado River and stumbled into the Las Vegas Valley. As he camped atop a mesa he saw meadows and springs in the middle of this desert. Two weeks later, he rejoined the group and led them to Las Vegas valley. When the Armijo-led group saw the plains' fertility and water sources they called it Las Vegas which means fertile plains.
From the mid-1800s trapper and traders entered this land then called the Spanish Trail. Later Mormon Missionaries arrived in 1855 and developed the settlement into what they described as the Indian farm on modern-day Kiel Ranch, after finding a spring 1.5 miles away. This farm was aimed to civilize, educate and convert the local Southern Paiute tribe into Mormonism but in 1858 the Mormons quit and left.
Octavius Decatur Gass the man dubbed the father of Las Vegas was a politician and businessman there. As one of the original town founders, he urged Conrad Kiel to settle on the land and add value to it by farming it by establishing orchards for fruits like citrus and apples, and other agricultural produce. Conrad Kiel bought the land in 1868 and in 1875 he set up a 240-acre ranch. On this ranch, he grew hay, fruits, and vegetables that he sold to miners in the area. He also sold wine to them.
Change Of Ownership
From 1903, Kiel Ranch started to change ownership. Kiel's heirs sold the 240-acre ranch to Utah, Nevada, and California Railroad company which built a railway through Kiel and Las Vegas ranches. As a result of the railway, towns emerged in the Las Vegas valley. In 1911 banker John S Park bought the ranch and built the Park Mansion also dubbed the 'White House Mansion.'
The ranch was bought in 1924 by Edward Taylor and became Taylor Ranch. From 1939 to 1958 Edwin Losee owned the ranch when it was dubbed the 'divorce ranch.' As the new Casino industry started growing clients gradually stopped coming to Kiel Ranch. The Losee family started to sell sections of the ranch. In 1976 the North Las Vegas Bicentennial Committee bought the remaining 26 acres for preservation. In 1975 Kiel Ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
At Kiel Ranch Historic Park there have been historical houses that existed that shed a light on Kiel Ranch's early life. But visitors can only see two of them since one house burned down.
Built in 1880 this is the second-oldest building in the State of Nevada, and it served as a storage house. To this day it still stands.
Doll House/Divorce Ranch Cottage
This infamous old cottage is the place where divorces were settled quickly from 1939 to 1958. Potential divorcees were high society class mostly from Los Angeles. During this so-called glamour era, Kiel Ranch was leased and later purchased by Edwin Losee who named it The Bouldarado Dude Ranch. This cottage is today still standing but has undergone renovations.
White House Mansion
After John S Park purchased Kiel Ranch in 1911 he built the luxurious White House Mansion in 1912 though it burned down in 1992. The mansion attracted high society and served as a social hub for a gradually developing Las Vegas. Tea parties, music recitals, and classy dinners were hosted at the White House Mansion.
Visiting Kiel Ranch
In May 2015 $2 million restoration efforts at Kiel Ranch Historic Park started and were finished in late June 2016, and were opened to the public in July 2016. Visitors can tour Kiel Ranch for self-guided tours. The park is located at 2465 Kiel Way, North Las Vegas, NV 89030.
In 1884 the Kiel family got into a prolonged feud with Archibald Stewart's family that bought Octavius Decatur Gass' Las Vegas ranch after it got foreclosed on over a loan. Gass' former ranch neighbored Kiel's ranch. That feud is believed to have resulted in the murder of Stewart in 1884 and two of Kiel's sons. This once beloved and beautiful ranch's reputation got tarnished by that bloody feud.