A kitchen is on display inside an old railroad cottage at the Clark County Museum on Nov. 14. The cottage rented for $18 per month to railroad employees. The cottage was part of Las Vegas’ first housing community.
Too bad MTV Cribs wasn’t around to broadcast in 1909. Otherwise, the old downtown Las Vegas railroad cottage surely would have had its own special. The recently refurbished digs made its debut at the Clark County Heritage Museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway in Henderson, Nov. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened it to the public.
The two-bedroom, one-bath cottage was originally located at 521 South 3rd Street, as part of a four-block, 64-home railroad employee camp built between 1909 and 1911 by the Las Vegas Land and Water Company, a subsidiary of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. It was the railroad stop city’s first housing community.
“It has been a labor of love to preserve and renovate this cottage for public viewing,” said Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, whose district includes the museum. “When you walk inside the front door, you’ll be able to see the living room, a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, and get a sense of how families lived here near the turn of the 20th century.”
The 763-square-foot concrete block cottage was donated by former Clark County School District Superintendent Brian Cram. It was moved 25 miles to the museum’s roomy 30-acre grounds in 2002. The lime green rectangular home is neatly situated between a caboose and the original 1931 Boulder City Depot, which was moved to the museum in 1975. The cottage has a two-bay entrance porch with railings set into the main block at the right hand corner. Roofs are hipped with flared, boxed eaves.
The renovated residence has authentic period furnishings from 1910 to 1920, including a claw foot bathtub and rebuilt sinks, plus an Edison hand-crank phonograph and a built-in pie rack. It was designed for long-term railroad staff, such as conductors and engineers, who could afford the $18 monthly rent.
Four other cottages were moved to the Springs Preserve in 2006. And there are five more in downtown still in use.
For those willing to make the Henderson museum trek, however, there is also a root cellar, or big hole in the ground, which was used to store food, milk, eggs and other perishable items during the pre-refrigerator era. It went hand-in-hand with early Las Vegas life. Buried cellars were a common part of Bishop Ranch (later named the Glendale Farm), which operated from 1905 to 1917 along the Las Vegas Wash. The refurbished cellar features a handful of bottles and a 300-pound bag of flour, discovered during excavation work. It was moved to the museum in 2008. CL