Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Letter from A. M. Folger to Howard Mount (Kennewick, Washington), January 21, 1948




Creator: Folger, Al M.




Letter from Folger to a student who was writing a paper on water in Las Vegas containing a brief overview of the topic.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier

Box 47 Correspondence File 1948


hln000812. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at?

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room

Digital Processing Note

Manual transcription





January 21, 1948 W 23-3 Mr. Howard Mount Kennewick, Washington Dear Howard: This is in reply to your letter January 14th, regarding the subject "The Water Supply" which you have been assigned for your science class. I am very glad that you have selected Las Vegas, because water is very closely tied in with the history of this city, and in fact was the reason why the town was established here in the first place. When the railroad was being built through this part of the country shortly after 1900, to connect up the interior of our country with the Pacific Coast, one of the essentials was of course water, which had to be had in order to use in the steam locomotives, as well as for construction gangs. As you may imagine, in this arid country water was very source, but the railroad builders heard of a place named "Las Vegas" (which means "The Meadow" in Spanish) where the Indiana said there were two springs of water that would furnish ample for the locomotives and the construction men. Arrangements were made to purchase the two springs and the land on which the springs were located, and thus the Las Vegas Land and Water Company was born. There are no rivers in this immediate vicinity, the closest being the Colorado River, some 23 miles away, and it is necessary to secure our water supply from the underground channel, either through natural springs, or by drilling artesian wells. For quite a long time, the two springs supplied the town with water, but when the influx of population was felt with the beginning of construction of the famous Boulder Dam, it was necessary to provide additional supplies of water for the thousands of workmen coming in here to build the dam. So a well was drilled to a depth of 600 feet, and a flow of 31/2 million gallons of water per day secured from this well. -2- Now, the two springs and the Big Well supplied the city for a number of years until 1942 when the second influx of workmen commenced. These were needed in order to build the large Basic Magnesium plant which produces a light strong metal from which airplane parts and in-cendiary bombs are made; some 14,000 men were employed on this project, which cost in the neighborhood of $64,000,000. In order to supply all these men with water it was necessary to build a battery of 10 wells from which over 13,000,000 gallons of water can be produced each day. An "Artesian" well means one from which the water flows naturally, without assistance from mankind. This is made possible by the water entering an impervious strata from a point high in the mountains, and being confined in this channel until it is 'tapped' by a well. The water then rises until it attains an outlet and thus we have an artesian flow. However, as more and more wells are drilled, this has a tendency to decrease the flow, and in such instances a pump is installed in the well to assist the water in rising to the top. The temperature here in the desert sometimes reaches 120 degrees in July and August, and of course a great deal more water is required than in moist, cool climates. The per capita consumption here in those months has reached 640 gallons daily, which is about four times the national average. Trusting you will be able to write an interesting theme with the above information, I am. Very truly yours, LAS VEGAS LAND & WATER CO. By__ General Manager 2-