Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Mesquite Valley

Approaching Mesquite, Nevada from the south, at exit 120.

Mesquite (alt. 1597, pop. 18,000) is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States, as it gains increasing recognition as a golf, gambling and retirement mecca. Founded along the banks of the Virgin River by Mormon pioneers in 1880, most of its history has been spent as a quiet rural backwater with an economy based on dairy farming and the raising of livestock.

When Interstate 15 was constructed through the Mesquite Valley in the early 1970's, the town's geographic position along the Nevada state line made it a desirable location to build gambling casinos catering to the large flow of traffic that would pass through on the new intercontinental highway. Many an unlucky gambler has lost all their money in Mesquite well before ever making it to the bright lights and neon of Las Vegas. A local casino has a tag line that says Mesquite is Las Vegas fun without the hangover.There are now four major hotel/casinos catering to the highway gambling trade.

Virgin River Hotel & Casino

With its mild year-round climate Mesquite is hosting more people for extended stays to attend conventions, trade shows, golf tournaments, and off-road motorized recreation events. Many visitors like it so much that they eventually become permanent and seasonal residents of this emerging oasis of fun and sun in the northern Mojave.

Tanya Tucker performs in a Mesquite showroom.

If you took a census of the cars in the major casino parking lots of Mesquite, you'd find a preponderance with Utah license plates. Most of these vehicles belong to folks who have made the 38-mile trek from the St. George area, where they wish to escape restrictive laws against drinking and gambling as well as the weak and watery 3.2% beer sold there. Nevada beer is 5% and there are many fine grocery and liquor retail outlets in Mesquite that cater to the Utah trade by brazenly advertising in the local Utah papers. It is technically a crime to bring more than a miniscule amount of alcohol into Utah so exercise some caution if you plan to smuggle contraband adult beverages into the Beehive State. Bury it good and deep under your bulkier luggage and avoid getting pulled over.

The Casablanca Hotel & Casino

Mesquite's phenomenal growth over the past 20 years has been a result of a warm year-round climate, a beautiful desert setting and Nevada's liberal tax and inheritance laws, which have drawn thousands of retirees to settle in the valley. The availability of water from the Virgin River to develop large-scale golf courses and retirement communities will continue to fuel rapid growth into the foreseeable future.

Wolf Creek Golf Course

Just past exit 122 is the Arizona state line. This remote corner of the state is part of what is known as the Arizona Strip, which is all of the territory south of the Utah state line and north of the Colorado River. Mostly inhabited by Paiute Indians, polygamists and cow punchers this section is culturally and geographically more akin to Utah than to Arizona, but the nineteenth-century federal map makers in Washington, DC who measured out straight lines across unknown territory were not inclined to think in terms of natural geographic boundaries and hence this isolated strip of territory was made a part of Arizona.

Welcome to Arizona!

In order for the residents of the few small towns that exist here to reach the Mohave County seat in Kingman, they must drive first through Nevada on a five-hour trip of 192 miles! Talk about your splendid isolation.

Virgin Mountains & northern Mesquite Valley, Arizona

This part of the valley is growing rapidly as more people fan out into the undeveloped portions of the nearby desert to build homes and ranchettes on the other side of the Virgin River.

Flooding in 2005 caused considerable damage in the Mesquite Valley.

1 comment:

JJ said...

I would like to go to Las Vegas and play in a high roller casino but it’s an expensive thing to do, even more so when you live in the UK. I have to resort to playing a casino game online instead which lets me win the money but I miss out on the atmosphere, but still save £600 on the 14 hour flight. So until I win big all I’ll do is play online casino dreaming of Las Vegas.