Before a couple weeks ago I had never been to Laughlin, NV, and I didn’t know much about it other than it was a small town with casinos on the river.
Earlier this month I took a short trip to Laughlin, explored the surrounding area, and learned about the history of the town. Laughlin was founded in the 1940s as South Pointe and was little more than a settlement that served miners and construction workers who were building the Davis Dam. It remained mostly unknown until the 1960s when Don Laughlin discovered South Pointe and recognized its potential as a resort town.
Don Laughlin built the first casino there, the Riverside, in the 1960s. I like the story about how the town got its name--Laughlin didn’t really want to have it named after him. He wanted to name the town Riverside, but the post office told him that was too common of a name and the mail would not make it there reliably. They chose the name Laughlin for the town. I read a magazine article at the Riverside Hotel in which Laughlin tells how he once checked into a hotel in Chicago, I believe, and filled out the registration card. The people told him he filled it out incorrectly, accidentally placing his name in the space for the city! I guess those kinds of things happen when you share your name with your city.
Laughlin sits on the edge of the Colorado River. On the other side of the river is Bullhead City, AZ, which developed as a result of Laughlin’s growth. Davis Dam, located just north of the two towns, creates the small Lake Mojave, and this area is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I made this black and white photograph (above) of a dock reaching into the lake in one of the coves formed by the dam.
There are now several casinos along the river, and they are the focus of Laughlin. I enjoyed making these photographs of the small casino town on the river.