The greatest day in Las Vegas history was a Valentine’s Day, according to a 1912 edition of Las Vegas Age. That was the day the Mesquite Club began planting 2,000 trees in the burgeoning city, from Garces to Stewart, First to Fifth (now known as Las Vegas Boulevard). Then-Mayor Peter Buol declared February 14 Arbor Day to celebrate the Mesquite Club’s efforts, and newspapers praised the much-needed beautification of the 7-year-old city. “Bowers of greenery give rest to the eye and pleasure to the tired mind and body during the hot summer days,” an Age reporter wrote. “If not for the Mesquite Club, Las Vegas would have remained a sun-scorched child of the desert.”
There were umbrella trees and likely elms, but it’s unclear what other kinds of trees were planted or if any are still around. Judge and historic preservationist Steve Evans wants to know. Piqued by reading newspapers on microfiche at the Nevada State Museum, Evans hopes to find and map the old trees. “I want to see if any of them exist and what were their species,” Evans says. “If any still exist I want to graft them.” Though outside the initial project’s footprint, Evans thinks there might be old trees at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort state park, a property once owned by pioneer and Mesquite Club founder Helen J. Stewart. “If I can find some that still exist, I’d like to be able to replant them with signs that say, ‘This is the offspring of the trees that were planted to create the city,” Evans says.