The Arrowhead Trail

imageTwo of Nevada’s 271 Historical Markers note the history of the Arrowhead Trail, the first “automobile” road between Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. One is located just south of Henderson, Nevada; the other is inside the Valley of Fire State Park, south of Overton, NV.
Nevada Historical Marker #168, titled “Arrowhead Trail (1914-1924)”, is located inside the Valley of Fire State Park. It reads as follows: 
Las Vegas promoters claimed to be the originators of this all-weather route between Los Angels and Salt Lake City.  From the beginning, the Arrowhead Trail was a “grass roots” effort, including promotion by various chambers of commerce and volunteer construction by local citizens.  However, it was Charles H. Bigelow, from Los Angeles, who gave the trail publicity.  Between 1915 & 1916, he drove the entire route many times in the twin-six Packard he named “Cactus Kate.”  The trail, which extends near here, was built in 1915 and completed the section between St. Thomas and Las Vegas. In its day it denoted a milestone of progress.
Nevada Historical Marker #197, titled “Arrowhead Trail – Henderson”, is located at the junction of U.S. Highways 93-95, 2.5 miles south of Henderson, Nevada. It reads as follows:

The name, “Arrowhead Trail” likely originated from the former San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad, which had an arrowhead for a logo. Prior to 1850, New Mexican trading caravans from Santa Fe en route to Los Angeles used this segment of the Old Spanish Trail. Heading south along this trail toward Bishop Mountain, travelers turned through El Dorado pass, and continued to Nelson, Searchlight, Nipton, Wheaton Springs, and on to San Bernardino. This section of the trail was popular as an early automobile road (1916-1924) connecting Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.  Local communities along the route promoted its construction and the tourism possibilities of Southern Nevada, including the nearby Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first state park.
“In April of 1913, Las Vegas dignitaries met with officials in Salt Lake City to drum up support for an "All-the-Year" road between Los Angeles and the Utah capital. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the local newspaper took up the cause, as did the Automobiles Club of Southern California. Newspaper article touted the scenic beauties of the existing road northeast from Las Vegas . St. Thomas residents helped the cause by scratching away at a route through the Valley of Fire. By 1915, a group of Las Vegas excursionists could boast that they had raveled the fifty-seven miles to St. Thomas in just four hours without mishap. A big boost for the road through Las Vegas came in 1916 from none other than "Cactus Kate." Cactus Kate was actually a "Twin-Six" Packard automobile driven by noted travel writer C.H. Bigelow. With his widely read reports of his travels, Bigelow single-handedly popularized the route and gave it the name by which was know for many years: the Arrowhead Trail. Unlike it modern descendant, Interstate 15, the Arrowhead Trail did not head directly for Barstow via Jean and State Line. Travelers who challenged the desert in those early year drove south to Searchlight and Needles where they picked up the route that became the legendary Route 66.  Fully a decade after Bigelow's trip, traffic on the Arrowhead Trail averaged only about 200 cars per day.”
These quotations were taken from the book "Nevada Yesterdays" - Short Looks at Las Vegas History by Frank Wright. This work provides a wealth of information on the history of Las Vegas and the surrounding area and comes highly recommended as a great resource for anyone studying the history of Las Vegas. This book can be purchased on Amazon at:
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