Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Letter from F. R. McNamee (Los Angeles) to Leo [McNamee], May 22, 1924







McNamee states that although the Union Pacific Railroad owns the land that the springs are on and all the land it historically watered, to further protect their water right they should apply for the right to appropriate the water.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier

Box 75 Folder 174-2 Vol. I Law Department UPRR Water Supply-Las Vegas


hln001056. 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





Railroad water rights - Las Vegas. - Surface and underground. Los Angeles, May 22, 1924. Dear Leo: I have your letter of the 21st relative to the above, and note what you say about making application to appropriate and apply to a beneficial use- the waters developed in the Com-pany's new well. I agree with you that application should be made to the State Engineer, and we should safeguard the Company's interests as much as possible under the water law now existing. The ques-tion that arises in my mind is whether the application should be made by the Las Vegas Land & Water Co. or by the Railroad Co. If by the latter, it seems to me that it should be made for rail-road purposes, and the waters that are now flowing from the spring be considered as to apply to the Las Vegas ranch and for the muni-cipal uses of Clark's Las Vegas townsite and such additions, inso-far as the same will apply. I will look into the titles and ascertain what right, if any, the railroad ever acquired to the waters of Las Vegas Spring. The railroad has been treated as the owner of the water for the reason that it acquired all of the land west of the railroad track upon which the source of water exists, while in truth and in fact, under the law, the Las Vegas Land & water Co. and its predecessors in interest, as owning all of the land east of the railroad track, was entitled to the use of all of the waters of Las Vegas Spring, because it and its predecessors had made an application to a bene-ficial use-- presumably-- of all of the waters rising and flowing from the source of this stream system, namely, the Las Vegas spring. At the time that A. Clark acquired the Las Vegas Ranch, and for thirty years prior thereto, his successive predecessors in interest owned all of the land susceptible to irrigation from this spring and from time to time thereafter acquired the land upon which the spring is located and through which it flowed unto the lands at the point where it was applied to a beneficial use, and there were no relative rights affected or to be affected along this stream, and the owners of the water and the land were the same, the water being appurtenant to the land. A contract has existed for the past ten years whereby the Las Vegas Land & Water Company recognizes the right of the Rail- road to this water from Las Vegas Spring, and is purchasing from the Railroad sufficient to serve Clark's Las Vegas Townsite under the franchises held by it. As the right to the use of all of the water of Las Vegas spring vested in Helen J. Stewart and her grantees on March 1, 1905, the date that the first comprehensive water law in Nevada took effect, I do not see how the rights of either company can be affect-ed as to this vested right, as there is no doubt but that a full and complete application to a beneficial use was made of all of the water at all times. It may be that proof of appropriation should have been fil-ed after the passage of the law of 1905, or it could be filed now, if there were any relative rights to be established, but as there have been no other claimants for any rights to the waters of this stream other than Helen J. Stewart and her successors, I fail to see where the filing of any proof of appropriation now would serve any useful purpose. The amended articles of incorporation of Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company, filed with the County Clerk at Las Vegas on August 31, 1923, authorizes the railroad to acquire water to serve municipalities as a distributor. This of course would constitute the railroad a public utility, which- before this amendment- we have sought from time to time to avoid, and do avoid by filing copies of our contracts with the Public Service Commission under Section 37 of the Public Service law of Nevada of 1919. Unless the conveyance received from Mrs. Stewart- or made subsequent thereto, expressly transfers or attempts to transfer-the waters of Las Vegas Spring, I am of the opinion that the Las Vegas Land & Rater Co. at all times was the owner of all of the waters rising and flowing therefrom, except what was acquired by the Railroad Co. either by permission of Las Vegas Land & Water Co. or possibly by adverse user, and the Railroad would be safe in making application for the underground water for railroad purposes, and under the amendment, the articles of incorporation would be broad enough to permit the application to the uses expressly authorized in its articles of incorporation. I will write you further when I have examined carefully the early record titles to the land upon which this water was applied to a beneficial use. FRM-H F. R. MCNAMEE