Antonio Armijo, Pioneer of Las Vegas

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Pablo Edronkin

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The impact that an explorer or traveller might have in our culture can be significant, even when no one suspects so: Almost everyone in the world has heard about Las Vegas yet, no one when the name was first used could probably imagine what would it mean today; not even its creator.

Las Vegas is today a travel destination of major importance, but not so long ago was not even a place on Earth because it had no name. The city is relatively recent and its success is mainly related to gambling. Just that made the difference between a dusty town where truck drivers stop to load some fuel in the middle of a desert and the bustling city that it is today: The airspace on top of Las Vegas is one of the busiest in the world.

Indeed, Sin City, the oasis of decadence, or however you prefer to call it got its name from the micro climate created by water springs that were in the area and created fertile, green pastures around them in an otherwise arid environment. That was what Antonio Armijo, a Spanish traveller and explorer saw while he was travelling along an old Spanish trail, attempting to find shortcuts for his commercial caravans.

In 1829, Armijo was a merchant who ventured as an explorer as he tried to find new ways of making more money. That took him along the path where ultimately he found the pastures. Every day a caravan spends in a desert increases risks such as dehydration for men and animals, sun exposure, attacks by robbers and so on. Thus, finding a shortcut in any trail becomes a viable and desirable thing to do under the circumstances, plus, finding water is indispensable for survival.

Then, as he was busy doing all those things, he came across the springs and christened the place; very little - if anything at all - is left of the original landscape found by Armijo, but the name survived.

Being a merchant, he would probably have liked to receive some sort of royalties for the use of the cultural, geographical and business trademark he literally invented, or at least, he would have been very surprised and pleased to see how things evolved there.

Today, the city is a prosperous one, filled with millions of people who live and prosper thanks to the enormous influx of tourists who go there. The memories of explorers are just an echo among the noise, music and voices of the people who go to bet on its casinos.

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