As of 2019, Clark County is the nation’s 11th most populous county in the United States and provides extensive regional services to more than 2.3 million citizens and more than 45.6 million visitors a year. Clark is home to the nation’s 7th-busiest airport and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The famed Las Vegas Strip sits at the heart of Clark County, which features unparalleled attractions; Las Vegas boasts more than 147,000 hotel rooms and is among the world’s top convention destinations.
Before the founding of Clark County, Las Vegas was founded in 1905 after the railroad that made stops in the city. Known as the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, the railroad was the first direct route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles when it was completed in 1905. It was perhaps the single most significant factor in the creation of what would become the city of Las Vegas, and later, Clark County.
Officially formed in 1909, Clark County is named for Sen. William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), who established the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad that linked Los Angeles with Salt Lake City.
After wide-open gambling became legal in 1931, small casinos began to dot Fremont Street, especially in the three blocks between Main and Third. The first casino licensed after the 1931 law passed, the Northern Club, was at 15 East Fremont, between Main and First. The county began to grow after the completion of the Hoover Dam (1936) on the Colorado River, and the population grew even more dramatically after the first of many Las Vegas casinos (the Flamingo) was built in 1945.
Museums of many disciplines and topic ranges can be found throughout Clark County. The Nevada Southern Railway Museum and the Hoover Dam Museum can be found in Boulder City, as well as the Mob Museum and the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art in the Las Vegas area.
Valley of Fire State Park offers a classic southwestern desert scene while hiking. Kayaking down the Colorado River is a popular day trip for Vegas visitors, offering an all-day kayaking tour and kayak rentals for more experienced paddlers. Red Rock Canyon offers a wide array of activities, some of which include mountain biking and hiking; guided cycling tours are also available in Red Rock.
With the recent additions of the Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson Silver Knights, Las Vegas Lights FC, Vegas Knight Hawks, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Las Vegas Aviators, along with the NBA Summer League, Las Vegas Aces, and UNLV Rebels, sporting events run year-round in Clark. Located at the south end of the famous Las Vegas Strip, the Pinball Hall of Fame boasts over 150 coin-operated pinball games and lays claim to the largest known collection of pinball machines on Earth.
For a more in-depth look at what makes Clark County a community, read the full Clark County Cultural Overview.