Celebrating A Collaborative Accomplishment At Logandale Trails

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A group of about 30 people gathered at the main trailhead at Logandale Trails area on Saturday, Oct. 28, to celebrate the completion of a long-time goal. Representatives from the BLM, Partners in Conservation (PIC), Clark County and the Nevada Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) Commission attended an opening event for two newly constructed visitor restroom facilities at the large trails area just west of Logandale.

Earlier in the morning, volunteers had gathered at the site and done a cleanup of the trails area. Assisting in this effort were members of the Vegas Valley 4-wheelers organization who were also doing advance prep work for their upcoming Hump N Bump event which will take place this weekend on the trails.

A brief grand opening ceremony was then held at the main trailhead at about 11 am.
The restroom buildings began construction late last spring and recently came to completion. They were funded by grants from the Nevada State OHV Commission and the federal Recreational Trails Program.
“It’s true that it seems a little funny to have a grand opening event for a public restroom facility,” said Elise McAllister of Partners in Conservation. “But this really is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people. And it was so needed here. So we felt like the completion of the project deserved some attention.”

McAllister was instrumental in writing the grants and overseeing the projects. The new restroom at the main trailhead cost about $100,000 in grant funding from Nevada OHV Commission. A second restroom facility, further down the road in the lower part of the trails system, cost about $85,000 in Recreational Trails Program grants to complete.

Sue Baker, one of the nine commissioners of the Nevada OHV Commission, said that the opening was an exciting first step forward for the Commission. She pointed out that the Logandale Trails main trailhead restroom building was the first project funded and completed by the state grant. The grant program is funded by OHV registration fees in the state.

“This is really the perfect example of OHV registration fee dollars coming right back to directly improving trail areas in your area,” Baker said. “We just encourage everyone to register their OHVs because it is that funding that allows things like this to be done.”

BLM Assistant Field Manager Shonna Dooman, of the Las Vegas Field Office, said that the need for the new facilities at Logandale Trails had been the subject of discussion for many years, but had taken a long time to complete. She recognized McAllister and the Partners in Conservation organization for their stewardship and cooperation in managing the trails area.

“PIC has been an amazing partner I am excited to work with you on a daily basis,” Dooman said.
Dooman added that other improvements were also in the works for the Logandale Trails system. The BLM is working with McAllister on writing additional Nevada OHV Commission grants for new shade structures, picnic tables and trash receptacles at the main trailhead area, she said.

PIC board member Gene Houston, who also serves on the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board, said that the project went along perfectly with the foundational goals of PIC.
“PIC was started as a way to have people be a part of public lands,” Houston said. “When people are engaged, they share in the work and they are invested and take pride and ownership of the land. That has been a good thing.”

Attendees gathered at the entrance to the new restroom facilities for a brief ribbon cutting ceremony. Then they enjoyed a picnic lunch together provided by PIC with pizza donated by Pirate’s Landing in Logandale.

The Logandale Trails area is visited by more than 200,000 people per year. According to visitor surveys taken in the area, about 25 percent of those visitors are new to the area. The new buildings replaced older facilities which were built more than 25 years ago and were nearing the end of their lifespan.

This article was originally posted in the Moapa Valley Progress on 9/3/14, and reposted here with permission. Photo Credit and Article Credit: Moapa Valley Progress

Logandale Trails History

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Logandale Trails is a multi-use trail system that consists of well marked trails, restrooms, information kiosks, and primitive camping. It encompasses over twenty-one thousand acres.

The area has always been very popular with Moapa Valley locals for Easter egg hunts, family reunions, Scouting events, and of course, trail riding.

In 1998, the Nevada Trails Coalition, working with the Nevada United Four Wheelers Association and the Las Vegas District of the BLM, announced the groundbreaking of the first of several projects funded by a grant from the Nevada Recreational Trails Program. The projects consisted of surveys and renovations of existing trails, construction of a restroom, installation of trash receptacles, and loading and unloading areas for people with disabilities. The BLM estimated that approximately two hundred people per month visited the Logandale Trails at that time.

Over the next fourteen years, the popularity of Logandale Trails increased tremendously. A 2012 estimate from the BLM put the visitor count at 168,248, or 7.97 visitors per acre that year. Contrast that with the figure of .83 visitors per acre for ALL public lands open to recreation in Clark County, and one can see that Logandale Trails is one very popular place. While no official counts have been done since then, estimates put the annual visitor count around two hundred thousand.

In 2014, after nearly six years of planning, Partners in Conservation (PIC) was designated as site steward for Logandale Trails. PIC is a local Moapa Valley nonprofit administered by Elise McAllister. The designation was the first recreational stewardship program in the region.
While the BLM is still in charge of Logandale Trails, and all permitting is still under their jurisdiction, PIC became responsible for much of the day-to-day upkeep, including dumpster services, caring for and improving restrooms, cleaning up campsites, monitoring sensitive areas, and establishing more of a watchful presence in the area.

PIC relies on funding from the BLM, as well as various grants, but by far PIC’s most important source of labor and materials to implement their projects for Logandale Trails comes from their many supporters, volunteers, and their unique and interactive fundraisers. These fundraisers always include a Trail Clean Up, and it is partly through these clean-ups that PIC has been so successful in keeping the area looking as spectacular as it does.

In January 2017, Logandale Trails had a ground-breaking ceremony celebrating the first ever on the ground project funded by State OHV registration fees to replace the original restrooms.

On March 25, Logandale Trails held its First Annual Fundraiser, Beauty and Beast, in which participants decorated their vehicles in hopes of being awarded the Most Beautiful or Most Beastly in their categories. This event was a success, with many prizes awarded. And of course, a cleanup of the trails followed.

Logandale Trails has become incredibly popular, not just for local and out of town off-road enthusiasts; it also attracts various businesses and other entities.

JP Magazine, Self-billed as the largest Jeep magazine in the world, had a trail run in early April with the Vegas Valley Four Wheelers as a planned stop on their way to the Jeep Fest in Moab, Utah. Also in early April, a commercial for a perfume was filmed there. A mule riding organization from Colorado spent a few days on the trails in 2016, and a manufacturer of remote controlled OHVs utilized the trails for building courses for their vehicles.

Of course, the biggest event for Logandale Trails is the annual Hump-N-Bump held in November and sponsored by Vegas Valley Four Wheelers. This event celebrated its thirty-fifth Hump-N-Bump last year. The Vegas Valley Four Wheelers are a huge supporter of PIC and Logandale Trails, and they generously donate each year to show their appreciation.

Logandale Trails is one of the finest examples of a multi-use trail system in the region, and all of us who use it owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who make it possible for us to enjoy such a diverse trail system for FREE: BLM, Partners in Conservation, Moapa Valley Rotary, Moapa Valley Chamber, MVRP, Local Scout groups, Moapa Valley businesses, and all of the hundreds of volunteers who spend their leisure time supporting the trail system.

This article was originally published in View On Magazine April 2017, reprinted with permission.

Moapa Valley History Part 1

St._Thomas_Moapa-Valley

Moapa Valley actually begins west/northwest of the larger communities of Overton and Logandale, her white clay cliffs nestle the deep aquifer springs that gush forth warm, soothing waters, creating the Muddy River at what is commonly referred to as Warm Springs. Both the valley and the river carve a verdant green swath southeast through the Nevada desert, nipping a corner of the Piute Indian Reservation, flowing through Moapa and Glendale into the Narrows, and spilling forth into the broad valley plain anchored by the present-day towns of Logandale and Overton. The Muddy River and the valley’s elevation slip south and where the Overton Wildlife Management Area meets Lake Mead, so to does the river, completing its short journey, encompassed entirely within the boundaries of Moapa Valley.

The ‘valley’ as locals refer to it, is so much more than a riverbed, though; it is miles of vegetation, both natural and farmed. Blessed with plentiful ground water and a reliable, steady flow in the Muddy, the valley floor is akin to the biblical Garden of Eden, providing life to a diversity and abundance of wildlife unknown to other desert communities.

Once dominated by sprawling fields and pastures, of late Moapa Valley is a haven to many city-weary folks who want to live where you can see dazzling stars by night, hear mourning doves cooing at sunrise, and feel the comfort of belonging to a community where ‘everyone really does know your name’.

But Moapa Valley is so much more than the post-card perfect small town, it is a centerpiece of greenery surrounded by 360 degrees of public land; public land as diverse and abundant as the wildlife, from a shimmering Lake Mead to Valley of Fire State Park’s famous sandstone formations, to the Logandale Trails System filled with sand dunes, gravel washes and more red rocks, to Mormon Mesa, a huge flat-top that is anything but flat when you start exploring—the variety of landscapes, geology, scenery—and the multitude of recreational opportunities around Moapa Valley provide a never-ending buffet of fun, discovery, extreme sports, or blissful relaxation.

Moapa Valley is really the best of both worlds, a fertile valley dotted with idyllic small towns along a meandering desert river and a centralized location from which one can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in a multitude of settings—water, springs, trails, rocks, sand, washes, 4-wheeling, rock crawling, rolling hills, sand buggies, wilderness mountains, parks, fishing, museums, ATVs, wildlife areas, hundreds of miles of dirt roads, hiking, mountain biking, zip lines, January temperatures in the 60s, over 300 days of sunshine a year, swimming, bird hunting, star gazing, … come add your favorite fun to the list!

Overton
Overton is the business heart of Moapa Valley….and always has been. In the early 1880’s, one store existed in the whole of Moapa Valley; families from St. Joseph, Kaolin and other settled locations would hitch up their team to a wagon and go ‘over-to-town’ for supplies. Eventually the pioneers simplified this to Overton, a matter-of-fact way most things were dealt with back then. Not a glamorous name, but definitely functional—in true pioneer spirit.

Overton wasn’t the first community or the biggest in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but the main core of a business community began to form in Overton, especially after St. Thomas was evacuated due to the rising waters of Lake Mead. St. Thomas seemed a natural place to build a town, next to the Muddy River before it joined the Virgin River. With plenty of land and good water, St. Thomas thrived and quickly grew into the center of commerce and civility for a hundred miles.

It was ideally located for shipments of ore, coming from Gold Butte and the Grand Gulch area and those mining operations added to St. Thomas’ prosperity. Meanwhile Overton hung on at the mouth of the huge Overton Wash and slowly preserved as a community, but it wasn’t until Lake Mead and Hoover Dam dictated the death of St. Thomas, that Overton really became the center of Moapa Valley. During the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, Overton was the center of commerce and most social events. Horse races, dances, Independence Day celebrations, parades—all held in Overton as the decades of time flew by.

Overton also benefited from being the gateway community to the Overton Arm of Lake Mead with excellent fishing and un-crowded marinas funneling many people through Moapa Valley during the 80s and 90s. However, with the drought and abrupt dropping of the lake’s levels recently, and the subsequent closing of Overton Beach, the business community in Overton has suffered as of late.

But Overton does what Overton has always done—-preserved. Overton and its residents hang on with a determination and attitude fitting of their pioneer ancestors. Hot summers and tough times are what this community has always known and there is a certain sense of pride, an ability to endure, almost a stubborn streak in the residents of Overton and the community itself. It has earned the right to be the heart and soul of Moapa Valley; an honor and a tribute to perseverance—and don’t think for one moment that Overton will relinquish that trophy.

Logandale
The Muddy River spills from the Narrows into the broad flat valley, creating fertile, rich soil and some of the best farmland in Moapa Valley; this is Logandale’s claim to fame. Logandale has always been the agricultural epicenter of the valley; although farming is done from one end of the valley to the other, Logandale is the undisputed king of agricultural productivity.

Fragrant fields of green onions in the late winter/early spring followed by succulent crops of tomatoes, giving way to acres and acres of luscious melons in the summer—Logandale produced vegetables that sold from Salt Lake City to LA. Ranchers raised cattle here too, but the ranches were small in size and the cattle business was never as profitable as that of farming.

Vegetable fields gave way to alfalfa in the 60s and 70s, with Logandale growing the vast majority of hay—the area’s hot summers, ample water, and long growing seasons were perfect conditions for alfalfa. In late summer, the heady perfume of alfalfa flowers hung heavy in the night air. Driving through Logandale, with huge fields of alfalfa growing on each side of the main road, the hotter and more humid the air, the more intoxicating became the earthy fragrance of alfalfa. Leaving the valley, one could catch lingering whiffs swirling up from the night breeze, literally miles from the nearest field. The only other smell that can out-compete alfalfa is the smell of creosote after a summer rain; many a local has memories of those evening drives through the perfume-laden air of Logandale.

It is only fitting, then, that the County Fair for Clark County ended up residing in Logandale; no other community or area in all of Clark County could rival Logandale for quality of product or its farmers for knowledge of subject. In the spring, 50,000 plus people flock daily to Logandale to the Clark County Fair; a celebration of not only ranching and farming in general, but a very personal celebration of a way of life in Logandale, one that endures to this day. Although many fields have been sold for housing sub-divisions, the vast majority of working land is still located in Logandale and sons and grandsons farm the same land that their parents and grandparents once farmed. And in the barns at the county fair, those old-time family names are still spoken in reverence, not only for their knowledge and skill, but also for keeping the farming and ranching traditions alive; that means a lot to the folks from Logandale.

Saint Thomas

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St Thomas Overton NV

St Thomas was a pioneer settlement starting in 1865, located approximately 7 miles southeast of Overton, NV, inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It was flooded over in 1938 with the construction of the Hoover Dam. Because of the decreasing water levels of Lake Mead in recent years, the water that once covered this historic site is gone, and more and more of the original settlement is visible and accessible.

HISTORY OF ST. THOMAS

Starting as a pioneer settlement in 1865, St. Thomas grew to be an established town of farms, homes, and stores. It was originally settled by a parry of 45 Mormons led by Thomas Smith. The group was originally sent by Brigham Young to grow cotton and open a supply route to Utah via the Colorado River. In the early days, it was a key supply stop along the Old Mormon Corridor from Utah to San Bernardino, CA.

By the early 20th century, St. Thomas was as big a town as Overton, and much bigger than the ‘then new’ city of Las Vegas.  It was a bustling mining and farming community with as many as 20-30 horse-drawn flatbeds of copper and gold ore coming through town each day.

The pioneers soon learned that this was a difficult place to establish a settlement. They had to contend with the intense heat, malaria infested mosquitoes, and scorpions. After digging miles of irrigation canals, they found the cotton didn’t grow well. Conflicts with local Indians further increased the difficulties faced by the pioneers. After a 1870 Survey established St. Thomas as being part of Nevada (the residents and Brigham Young thought St. Thomas was located in Utah or Arizona), and they were presented with a tax bill from Lincoln County, Brigham Young allowed the settlers to return to Utah in 1871. One resident, Daniel Bonelli, decided to stay.

After 1871, St. Thomas was taken over by other settlers, including outlaws and other people trying to hide out.

Between 1880-1900, several Mormon settlers returned to St. Thomas, as well as other settlers. A variety of crops were planted and cultivated, including cotton. Salt was mined and shipped to St. George and other mining areas. The settlers benefited from of the position of St. Thomas on the main road between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City as a key route to ship crops and goods.

With the discovery of gold and copper in the areas east and south, mining became a booming business, and St. Thomas became a freight stop on the Spur Line of the San Pedro Los Angeles Railroad for ore, goods, and produce.

The Arrowhead Trail, or Arrowhead Highway, was built mostly during the period of of the 1910’s, it was the first all weather road that connected Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, via Las Vegas. This was, of course, before the US established the numbered highway systems. In 1926, the Arrowhead Trail was replaced by US Route 91, and later Interstate 15. Presently, there are still some portions in California and Las Vegas that are referred to as the Arrowhead Trail or Arrowhead Highway.

By 1918, there were 6 established businesses in St. Thomas: Gentry’s Store, R. Hannig Grocery Store, Gentry Hotel, William Sellers Cafe, Howell Garage, and Rox Whitmore Meat. The community was thriving, having established itself as an early ‘tourist attraction’. Motorists driving through found it a welcome place to stop for food, supplies, and if needed, car repairs.

Just a few short years later, the fate of St. Thomas began to look bleak. The price of copper declined, the exports through the railroad decreased, and when the Virgin River Bridge burned,  Highway 91 was rerouted north of Moapa Valley across Mormon Mesa. More ominous of course, was that surveying and test drilling for a new dam began in Boulder and Black Rock Canyon.

By 1926, plans for building the Hoover Dam had already been in place, and government appraisals for the holdings in St. Thomas began. Residents fought the government and were not happy with the low payments for their properties.  Many of them never really believed the waters would rise so high after the dam was built. By the summer of 1932, all holdings in the settlement were the property of the U.S. Government, and by 1938, the entire town was covered by the newly created Lake Mead.

Before the town was fully submerged, some homes were moved, and other structures were taken apart and pieces salvaged  to build in other communities. The St. Thomas Cemetery was moved in in 1935, the graves and remains located to the present day St. Thomas Cemetery.

Many of the residents of St. Thomas moved to what is now the Moapa Valley, including the towns of Overton and Logandale.

St. Thomas Today

The remains of St. Thomas are visible again since the waters of Lake Mead began receding in 2003. The National Park Service has cleared a path from the parking area down to the site. It is about a 3/4 mile walk to the remains. There are a few steep slopes and much weed and bushes to negotiate, please use caution!

The entire area of St. Thomas is  under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and you must obey all NPS rules and regulations. Metal Detectors are not allowed, and you may not remove any objects from the area. Please leave all remains exactly the way you see them, as work is still continuing on identifying items and locations. The are can be hazardous due to overgrowth and objects projecting from the ground. Step cautiously and do NOT climb on any remains.

While we cannot bring St. Thomas back to life, we can show the town and its people the respect we’d like our home town to receive. Please do not climb on foundations or disturb any artifacts you find. These remnants remind us of the people of St. Thomas, those who played, worked and lived here.

PIONEER EXPERIENCE

In February 2012, three companies of Moapa Valley “pioneers” dragged, pushed and hauled 30 loaded handcarts from Logandale on a trek down the Muddy River to St. Thomas in a brief but accurate depiction of the struggles of the earliest Mormons crossing the Great Plains.

Between 350 and 400 people participated in the handcart trek included more than 250 members of the Logandale LDS Stake Young Men’s and Young Women’s groups, according to Willie Frehner, second counselor of the Logandale LDS Stake presidency.

St Thomas

Read the full story in the Moapa Valley Progress.

VISITING ST. THOMAS

From Las Vegas (North Route)
1. Take Interstate 15 North (to Salt Lake City)
2. Exit Hwy 169, N Moapa Vally Blvd.
3. Turn Right to Overton
4. Continue through Overton
5. Park Entrance is approximately 17 miles from Interstate 15. Park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.
6. Immediately past the entrance is a left turn onto St. Thomas Road. Follow approximately 3.25 miles.

From Boulder City (South Route)
1. Take Interstate 215 East, or State Routes 93/95 South to Boulder City
2. In Boulder City Follow 93/95 to Lakeshore Rd.
3. Turn left on Lakeshore; Park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.
4. Continue Lakeshore to Northshore (Hwy 169), turn Right
5. Approximately 50 miles right turn onto St. Tomas Road. Follow approximately 3.25 miles

MAPS: The National Park Service has created a great interactive guide: The St. Thomas Visual Field Guide is an interactive guide to help you as you visit the streets of this historic town, with photos and maps for reference. Map and directions on this page courtesy of the National Park Service.

More St. Thomas Information:

Visit the websites below for more information about St. Thomas

National Park Service St. Thomas

Local Hikes.com St. Thomas

Las Vegas Sun St. Thomas Article

Las Vegas Sun St. Thomas Article 2008

News 3 Article 2014

Rick Crimmel Photos of St. Thomas

National Park Service St. Thomas Video

Latter Day Saints-Then and Now

The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the late 1860’s was Brigham Young. Who at the time issued a call to selected names read in a conference in Nephi, Utah. The names read were of people to help settle the Muddy Mission, now known as Moapa Valley.

A few years before this, the area was scouted by an expedition lead by Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  The farther south they explored the more difficult the terrain became. A journal entry says: “Passed…over a rugged, stony, sandy almost indescribable country, thrown together in dreadful confusion…” “A wide expanse of chaotic matter presented itself, consisting of huge hills, red deserts, cheerless, grassless plains, perpendicular rocks, loose barren clay,… sandstone … lying in inconceivable confusion … in short, a country in ruins, … turned inside out, upside down, by terrible convulsions in some former age.”

To those who know the story say that it stands as “an ordeal beyond compare.”  The forbidding landscape of near barren mountains and mesas provided scant supplies of grass for livestock and wood for fuel or building.  Summer temperatures often reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was little rainfall.  “Oh what a place it was!” wrote one settler, “Nothing but deep sand and burning sun.”

Another account of the irrigation ditches which were dug by day and covered with blowing sand by night, made it very difficult to water the crops the settlers had planted. Some of those called in the late 1860’s certainly must have asked, “Of all places on the earth, why the Muddy?” First of all, the American Civil War had given rise to the possibility of shipping commodities via the Colorado River.  Second, when the war interrupted traditional sources for textiles, the cotton mission had been established in the cities of St. George and Washington not too many miles away.  It was assumed that cotton for that mission could be grown in the Muddy region.  Third, the Latter-day Saints felt strongly their obligation to work with the Native American tribes in the region, helping to feed them and hoping to educate them.

But the region was nevertheless a lonely, barren wasteland.  It seemed to have almost nothing to offer but heat and hard work. It was isolated and for the most part desolate, and the river that gave the mission its identity was aptly named, Muddy.  By 1870 on the decision of President Young, recognizing the extreme difficulties of the mission, advised the settlers to abandon the mission.

The Fact that the harshness of the environment forced the closure of this mission serves to remind us of the faith and courage required to live there.

But they came back and now Moapa Valley, which consist of Moapa, Glendale, Logandale, and  Overton, has a population of 6668 as of 2014. It is still a large LDS community, there are, 1 Young Single Adult Branch, 1 Moapa Ward, 6 Logandale Wards, and 4 Overton Wards which makes up the Logandale Nevada Stake. There is still an honoring of the history and heritage born here where 4 and 5 generations of family have called Moapa Valley their home for over the past 100 years.

To have the Moapa Valley experience you need to come over the hill from the South or North and see that perfect green valley, dotted with homes, and fields of growing green alfalfa, the Bowman Reservoir, and if your heart doesn’t tell you that you are home, it never will.
Story is written by Marjorie Holland with articles by Jeffrey R. Holland “Faith to Answer the Call” and Susan Easton Black “Courage – the Unfailing Beacon”.

Read other articles about Moapa Valley History.

Visit the Old Logandale School and Historical Society for more Moapa Valley History.