Dennis Cassinelli: Pahrump’s more recent history

When compared to other Nevada towns which have a long history involving primarily mining and transportation, Pahrump has a more recent history of residential growth and enterprises such as outdoor entertainment, tourism, golf and wineries.
Pahrump was originally inhabited by the Southern Paiute Indians. It was slowly inhabited by settlers in the late 19th century. They reportedly chose the name for Pahrump after the original Southern Paiute name Pah-Rimpi, or “Water Rock,” so named because of the abundant artesian wells in the valley.
For anyone interested in more history about Pahrump, there is a book written by Robert D. McCraken titled “A History of Pahrump Nevada.” Settlers attempts to develop the valley included the raising of alfalfa and grain to feed livestock, and fruits and vegetables for local consumption. McCracken’s book is one of a series of books on the history of major Nye County communities.
The rapid growth of Las Vegas sparked interest in Pahrump’s real estate during the late 1960s. This led to the introduction of telephone service and a paved highway from Las Vegas to Pahrump, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since the late 1970s, Pahrump has grown exponentially, increasing from approximately 2,000 residents in 1980 to 38,000 in 2018. On my one and only visit to Pahrump in the mid 1970s, there was not much to see and I am amazed how it has apparently grown since then.
In 1970 the Williams Family purchased the 12,000-acre Pahrump Ranch and started growing cotton on the property. They constructed a cotton gin and the town of Pahrump began to grow. Before long, paved roads appeared, residential developments were constructed, public utilities were installed and Pahrump evolved into a thriving community. Similar to nearby Las Vegas, Pahrump attracted the gaming industry and became a tourist attraction.
Unless you are from Southern Nevada, you probably know very little about Pahrump. The town is easy to reach from Las Vegas, but it is hard to forget. Located about one hour west of Las Vegas, Pahrump is about an hour east of Death Valley National Park. The closeness of those attractions have contributed to Pahrump’s attractiveness. A place known for extremes, Pahrump lies in the heart of a desert and is a perfect place to enjoy the best of Southern Nevada.
For many years, family members and I went “over the hill” to California to visit the wineries at Napa, Sonoma and Placerville. Little did we know, Nevada has a wine producing region located in Pahrump Valley. The Pahrump Valley Winery has many attractions including guided tours, a picnic area, gourmet restaurant, and a grape stomping event every October.
Modern day Pahrump is one of the fastest growing communities in the west. It’s new urban features are visible from Highway 160, including five bright casinos plus local coffee houses and the tasting rooms at Pahrump Valley Winery, Artesian Cellars and the Sanders Family Winery are busier than ever. Other notable businesses in Pahrump include Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, Pahrump Valley Speedway and Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club. Today the beautiful wild countryside is a hotspot for RV rallies, outdoor enthusiasts and golfers with the addition of the Mountain Falls Golf Club and Lake View Executive Golf Course.
From ATV and OHV (all terrain vehicles and off highway vehicles) to cultural festivals and spectacular events, visitors will be blown away by how much Pahrump has to offer.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


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