Last updated: February 17, 2010
Coyote Named This Place "Pakonapanti"
In the harsh deserts of the American West, water means life. Many of the dozens of springs that once dotted Las Vegas’ broad valley are now silent and dry. Today only a few springs located around the Valley’s fringes still flow. Corn Creek Field Station, located 15 miles north of Las Vegas on Desert National Wildlife Refuge is one such place. Here, clear fresh water wells up from the ground and flows downhill to a small reservoir made by Corn Creek’s first European settlers.
Before the Mormons settled Las Vegas, Corn Creek was home to Native Americans for at least 5,000 years. Native Americans were attracted to the lush plant and animal resources thriving around the springs.With food and water nearby, family groups gathered at Corn Creek to trap jackrabbits in nets and perform ceremonies and dances. Pakanaponti, as it is known in the Paiute language, lives on today in native legends and stories.
When the first Europeans settled Las Vegas, they too used the springs--first, as a stop- over for wagon roads and the nearby railroad, and later as a homestead. Between 1914 and 1939 ranchers and farmers eked out a living at Corn Creek. They raised cattle, planted orchards and vegetables, and during hard times some individuals even made bootleg whisky. In 1936 George Worts, a writer of Hollywood fame, purchased the farm and moved there with his young wife. Just three years after taking residence George Worts sold the property to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By late 1940 the farm became home to the Desert Game Range CCC Camp and soon after that it was closed. Protected as part of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the Corn Creek Field Station is a treasure trove of history and prehistory—a unique remnant of our past.
This report tells the story of these events as well as the results of the archaeological survey and limited excavations conducted within the Corn Creek National Register Archaeological District. This important work was conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by HRA, Inc. in 2002. This is a condensed version of two separate technical documents as well as other pertinent research prepared by HRA, Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the scientific community and interested general public.
This report was prepared by Heidi Roberts, Elizabeth von Till Warren and Suzanne Eskenazi with contributions by Richard V.N. Ahlstrom, Velda Begay, Laura Beuthel, Regina L. Chapin-Pyritz, Linda Scott Cummings, Clarabelle Jim, Jerry D. Lyon, Lalovi Miller, Bud Myers, Laureen Perry, and Kathryn Puseman. For more information about the report, please contact Refuge Manager Amy Sprunger at Desert National Wildlife Refuge 702-879-6110.
To facilitate easier viewing and downloading, the report has been divided in reasonably small files. You will need Adobe Acrobat version 4.0 or later to view the files.
Chapter 3: Native Americans in Southern Nevada Before 1492
Chapter 4: Corn Creek's Prehistoric Archaeology (pages 49-66)
Chapter 4: Corn Creek's Prehistoric Archaeology (pages 67-85)
Chapter 5: Southern Paiutes in Las Vegas History
Chapter 6: Corn Creek and the History of Las Vegas Valley (pages 102-130)
Chapter 6: Corn Creek and the History of Las Vegas Valley (pages 131-165)
Chapter 7: Summary