Complete Nevada Traveler Contents
The Complete Nevada Traveler by David W. Toll
Mesquite Travel Info
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Mesquite

This busy little community has an active Arts calendar.
This busy little community has an active Arts calendar.


The Nevada
Travel Network
Description and History of
Mesquite
by David W. Toll
The Casablanca casino resort welcomes guests with a waterfall and duck pond.
The Casablanca casino resort welcomes guests with a waterfall and duck pond.
From The Complete Nevada Traveler, the Affectionate and Intimately Detailed Guidebook to the Most Interesting State in America. Buy the Book Here






ONE OF A HANDFUL OF PIONEER farming communities established by the Mormons on the Muddy and Virgin rivers, Mesquite was first settled in 1880, abandoned not long after, and then occupied permanently in 1894.
Challenging golf courses at Mesquite Nevada
With five challenging courses, golf is a major attraction in Mesquite.
Photo by Max Winthrop
For its first century Mesquite was a hard-working farm town of considerable reputation in agricultural circles, unknown otherwise.Then in 1980 this sleepy little community two miles west of the Arizona line began to sprout neon, add asphalt and show other signs of becoming a new Nevada boomtown. Now, after more than a century of hardscrabble farming and more than two decades in the resort business, Mesquite is proclaiming itself the new... no, not Las Vegas! Palm Springs.

You'll find casino games and slot machines galore in the large casinos, but in Mesquite the name of the game is golf. Four major league golf courses (so far), one designed by Arnold Palmer, draw golfers from St. George and southwestern Utah. Add to them the Las Vegans who enjoy a respite from the supercharged surroundings of the city, and you've got some serious golfing going on.

The Falcon Ridge is the only one of Mesquites major hotels without a casino. With five challenging courses, golf is a major attraction in Mesquite.
Photo by Las Vegas CVA
The Oasis Resort Hotel Casino, occupies the old Pulsipher Ranch property at the site of a once-famous truck stop, and was for a decade the major casino presence in town, developed by the gambling industry pioneer Si Redd. Alas, it has closed since. Then the Virgin River Casino, where you can also catch a first-run movie, was built at the eastern freeway exit and the boom began to build. In 1995 Players' Island appeared, a 500-room resort with a tropical theme and a full-service spa with mineral water pools, and Merv Griffin as an owner. Merv's gone and it's called The Casablanca now, but the property is even more elegant than before. The Eureka became the fourth of Mesquite's Casino resorts, on the north side of the life-giving freeway. There are five modern motels and three RV Parks as well.


Mesquite's events calendar is busy with a variety of activities Mesquite's events calendar is busy with a variety of activities
Photo by Max Winthrop
With the casinos, the golf courses and the spas, Mesquite offers an easy and inviting escape from humdrum routine and the vexations of daily life.

You can keep a busy schedule of relaxation here. Spend the morning playing golf, linger over an afternoon in the spa, spend an exciting hour or two at the gaming tables in the evening, sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast, and then hit the trail for an afternoon on horseback. Even without the modern facilities this is a pleasant oasis, free of big-city madness. There are 13 restaurants in the casinos alone, and you'll find plenty to choose from outside the casinos too.

It's so easy and enjoyable in Mesquite now that it's hard to realize what a struggle life was for the first settlers here. It was so hard, with a miles-long irrigation ditch to be dug by hand, and croplands to be cleared, that after 15 years only one family remained: Dudley Leavitt, his five wives and 51 children. In 1897 five newly-wed couples from Bunkerville joined the Leavitts at Mesquite, erecting a tent to serve as school, church and town hall, with three more long years before the first frame buildings were built.
Mesquite's Fine Arts Center maintains a full schedule of exhibits and events. Mesquite's Fine Arts Center maintains a full schedule of exhibits and events.
Photo by Max Winthrop
At the wonderful Desert Valley Museum, on Main Street, you can get a sense of how it was before golf. The small stone building, which has been entered on the National Register of Historic Places, was contructed by the National Youth Administration in 1941, first used as a library, then a hospital, and finally dedicated as the new City of Mesquite's historical museum in 1985. It is something of a community attic, displaying a wide variety of pioneer implements and accoutrements ranging from a Paiute rabbit fur cloak to a 1945 television set, including oddities such as the petrified tree stump with an "egg" in it. What sets the museum apart, though, is the collection of local reminiscence, memoirs, clips and quotes on local history encouraged, collected and maintained by the volunteer staff. They have accumulated a magnificent archive of the pioneer experience, sorted into volumes, and you can browse through it to find stories, some of them typed and pasted in, some of them written out by hand, like these from the volume titled Folklore:

A large man with a small high voice stayed at the Abbott Motel. Early in the morning the man saddled his horse, adjusted his bedroll across his shoulder and climbed into the saddle. People standing around asked why he didn't just tie the bedroll behind the saddle. "Oh, no," he replied, "My poor little mare has enough to do carrying me without having to carry my bedroll too."

Soon after I came from my mission the town decided to move the cemetery from the corner of Tobler's field to its present location because of the farmland and ditch. There were three crews working -- one digging up the bodies, one hauling by team and wagon, and one digging new graves and burying the bodies. It took us about three days. My sister Clarissa had twin boys that died at birth and they selected a place in the new cemetery; those were the first graves. Right after that we started moving the bodies from the old cemetery. This experience made me know that the saying "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" is true. One child had been buried for a couple of years and inside there wasn't a thing but dark fine dust; you could see the print of lace where the hood had been. The child's father felt through the dust and there were no bones. I helped bury that child, so I know it returned to dust. Another father opened the casket of his daughter who had been dead a few months and she looked perfectly normal but when the air hit her she turned dark as coal. He shrank back and said, "Cover it quickly." One boy who had been dead a couple of years had long fingernails and whiskers and hair. One child was just a skeleton, no flesh at all. I had always wondered about the dead, but I saw them in every stage from flesh to dust and I saw all I wanted.

Charles Arthur Hughes, 1905


In 1890 after Heber Hardy had been courting Betsy Leavitt for a few months, he got up enough courage to ask Grandpa Dudley. He said, "Brother Leavitt, I would like to marry one of your daughters."

In 1890 after Heber Hardy had been courting Betsy Leavitt for a few months, he got up enough courage to ask Grandpa Dudley. He said, "Brother Leavitt, I would like to marry one of your daughters."

Dudley answered, "All right, Heber, I'll bring a load of them back from town with me on my next mail run and you can take your pick."

Heber said, "I've already chosen Betsey! She's the one I want!"


These remembrances help anchor the luxuries and pleasures of the resorts and the gambling houses in the reality of human experience, and this unpretentious little museum is as wonderful in its way as the new resorts.

Take the Bunkerville loop road for a short scenic excursion along the Virgin River. Bunkerville was settled a few years before Mesquite, but you won't find much accessible antiquity here, just a pretty country drive with a dairy farm and enjoyable views of the river.


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