Category: The Strip

On This Date: July 3, 1975 Caesars Palace Flood

July 3, 2017
Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

On the Strip, Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975 – Las Vegas News Bureau.

Note: the following was originally printed in 2010.

35th Anniversary of The Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975
Chris Stachelski NWS

Las Vegas Thirty-five years ago this summer one of the most significant flash flood events to ever occur in Las Vegas occurred on a Thursday afternoon right before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Although this flood is often referred to as the Caesars Palace Flood since the devastation most often associated with it took place in the parking lot of the Caesars Palace casino, this event produced extensive flooding in other portions of Las Vegas and in North Las Vegas. At the time it occurred the Caesars Palace Flood was the most costly flooding disaster ever in the Las Vegas Valley with damage estimates placed at $4.5 million (in 1975 dollars).

The thunderstorm activity that occurred over far southern Nevada on the afternoon of July 3, 1975 was triggered by an increase in moisture that resulted from two factors. A moist southeast flow in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere, typically associated with the monsoon, was already established in the southwestern United States by the morning hours of July 3rd. While this larger scale pattern typically brings enough moisture to trigger thunderstorms, the thunderstorm activity that would eventually develop on the afternoon of July 3rd was fueled by a surge of low-level moisture that came up the Colorado River Valley from the Gulf of California. Meteorologists often refer to this push of richer low-level moisture accompanied by such a wind direction up the Colorado River Valley during the summer months as a “Gulf Surge”. Gulf Surges have been noted for contributing to more active thunderstorm events and in those events often having storms that unleash heavy amounts of rainfall.

Shortly after 12 PM on July 3rd, thunderstorms began to develop around the southwest side of the Las Vegas Valley and then began to move northward. Thunderstorms continued to develop for the next few hours with activity being heaviest on the west side of the valley. Between 5 and 6 PM, the thunderstorms finally began to move northward away from the valley. The southeast side of the valley saw very little, if any, rainfall from the thunderstorms. As the thunderstorms moved northward across the west side of the Las Vegas Valley they unleashed heavy rain, with estimated totals in excess of 3 inches, as well as wind gusts of up to 58 mph. While much of the heaviest rain did fall on undeveloped land on the west side of the valley, residential neighborhoods in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas just west of Interstate 15 received at least a half an inch of rain.

The Las Vegas Valley slopes downward about 1000 feet from west to east and the heavy rain that did fall during this event was unleashed onto the higher west side of the valley. The natural drainage of the valley at this time was relatively unaltered and consisted of a series of alluvial fans containing washes that eventually drained eastward into Lake Mead. Thus while flooding on the west side of the valley resulted from a combination of heavy rain and drainage in primarily the form of runoff, flooding from Interstate 15 eastward was entirely from runoff. Flooding was first noted in the Las Vegas Creek during the afternoon of July 3rd, followed shortly after in the Flamingo and Tropicana Washes. In the Las Vegas Wash, flooding began on the upper reaches of the wash at North Las Vegas and then moved downstream. The flow of water then continued down the Las Vegas Wash before it emptied into Lake Mead. Floodwaters in the lower part of the Las Vegas Wash did not peak until the early morning hours of the 4th .

All-time peak flows based on records through 1975 were recorded on the Tropicana, Flamingo and Las Vegas Washes as well as Las Vegas Creek. Widespread flooding occurred in downtown Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and in neighborhoods just west of Interstate 15 and further east in Las Vegas along the Flamingo Wash. However, the most significant damage occurred on the Las Vegas Strip where the Flamingo Wash passed just north of the Caesars Palace and Flamingo casinos. Some 700 cars parked in a lot at Caesars were inundated when floodwaters swept down the wash and up against a bridge on Las Vegas Boulevard that went over the wash. Most of the cars parked here ignored a sign that warned of a flood threat in this area. While this was the most noted impact associated with this flood event, two men were killed North Las Vegas when they were swept away by floodwaters. Damage occurred to culverts and pavement along the Northshore Road in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area from water that surged downstream along the Las Vegas Wash. In metropolitan Las Vegas, extensive damage occurred with numerous homes and businesses flooded. Several vehicles were inundated by a surge of water or swept off roadways. Curbs, streets and lawns were flooded, eroded and covered with sediment. Numerous telephone poles were knocked over by the surge of water and erosion. Sewage plants were inundated and thus deactivated due to the influx of water and mud. Damage was estimated in 1975 dollars at $4.5 million.

The Caesars Palace Flood demonstrates how heavy rain falling in the headwaters of a drainage system, in this case washes, can result in flooding many miles away from where rain even occurs. Only 0.07 inch of rain fell at McCarran Airport during this event and a tenth of an inch was estimated by a bucket survey along the Flamingo Wash about a mile east of The Strip while three-quarters of an inch fell near where the Palms Casino stands today and as much as three inches was estimated in what is now Spring Valley. At this time there were no organized flood control measures in Las Vegas. In addition, real-time weather information such as radar, satellite and observations were extremely limited by today’s standards. Despite the limited technology, the NWS office in Las Vegas did warn of the flood around three and a half hours in advance. Although substantial improvements in weather forecasting and flood control have been made since 1975, floodwaters should never be underestimated.

Acknowledgements

Significant thanks are extended to Darryl Randerson who composed a paper on this event that was published in 1976. Additional thanks are extended to the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the use of images and to Barry Pierce of the National Weather Service in Las Vegas for reviewing this report.

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Caesars Palace in 1975 – Photo courtesy UNLV Special Collections.

The photo above shows Caesars Palace in 1975 likely prior to the flood event of July 3rd. This is very similar to what the layout of the Caesars property looked liked at the time the flood occurred. To the right of Caesars in this photo (the northern extent of the property) is the parking lot where as many as 700 cars were destroyed by the raging floodwaters of the Flamingo Wash. While Flamingo Wash is dry in this photo, it can be seen in the upper right where it extends out from a bridge that was built over it for Interstate 15. In the photo you can see how the wash comes right at a portion of the parking lot. Note that little development existed in the area just west of Caesars Palace (the upper portion of this photo). Today, this area is one of the most densely developed sections of Las Vegas.

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Google Earth image of the central Strip, 1977. Flamingo Wash is the blue line that runs across this image

 

google

Google Earth image of the central Strip, 2010.

These aerial photographs show the central area of the Las Vegas Strip. In the top photograph, note how small of an area Caesars Palace covered in 1977. If you look closely you can make out some of the buildings then in today’s Caesars Palace. The Forum Shops now sit in the area where the parking lot was back in the 1970s. Of all of the neighbors Caesars had in the 1970s, only the Flamingo remains today. The Dunes Hotel was demolished in the mid 1990s and in 1998 the Bellagio opened in its place.

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Wrecked cars are tossed across the parking lot at Caesars Palace after the flood. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Floodwaters on North Main Street in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Caesars Palace Flood of July 3, 1975

Map of rainfall amounts From July 3, 1975. White numbers are actual values determined from rain gauges and bucket surveys. Green lines denote every half inch of rainfall measured. Black numbers denote values of green lines. Map background from Google Earth shows the Las Vegas Valley today. Values on the map were obtained from a report by Darryl Randerson done in 1976.

Additional Photos:

Flood-75

Flood-75

Photo Credits:
Review Journal, UNLV Special Collection, VintageLasVegas.com, Clark County Regional Flood Control District and Las Vegas News Bureau.

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On This Date: July 2, 1969 The International Hotel in Las Vegas Opened

July 2, 2017
Las Vegas Hilton

Opened as the International, then renamed to the Las Vegas Hilton, LVH then Westgate

It opened in 1969 as the International Hotel, and was known for many years as the Las Vegas Hilton, then briefly as the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. It was renamed the Westgate Las Vegas on July 1, 2014. Elvis Presley performed for 58 consecutive sold out shows, breaking all Vegas attendance records, with stellar reviews coming from both critics and the public.

On the night of February 10, 1981, just 90 days after the devastating MGM Grand fire, an arson set fire to the Las Vegas Hilton on the eighth floor. The fire burned through the east wing of the hotel and spread to higher floors. Eight people died in this fire. In 1982, Philip Cline was sentenced to eight life sentences for his role in starting the fire. The hotel is now known as the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

Photo By: Wikipedia.com

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On This Date: July 2, 1958 The Stardust Hotel & Casino Opened

Stardust

The Famous Stardust Hotel & Casino Sign

On this Date, July 2, 1958, The Stardust Resort and Casino opened along the famous Las Vegas Strip. When the hotel opened, it had the largest casino and swimming pool in Nevada and the it was the largest hotel in the Las Vegas area. Although most of the modern casino complex, including its main 32-story tower, was built in 1991. The Stardust was originally a outer space themed hotel with planets, stars and galaxies on its facade.

Stardust Postcard

Stardust Postcard With the Orginal Spaced Themed Facade

But most remember the 188 foot tall neon sign that represented a shower of stardust around the words STARDUST. In 1991, the Stardust sign’s spaced themed lettering was replaced with a subdued typeface.

The Stardust officially closed on November 1, 2006 after operating continuously for 48 years. It was imploded on March 13, 2006

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The Gambling Lifestyle in Las Vegas

July 1, 2017

Winning in Las VegasEach city has its own allure achieved by unique traits, historical background or just welcoming locals. For Las Vegas, specifically, there is a bit more than that. The lifestyle in Vegas is often described by stating that it is both everything and nothing that meets the eye.

In order to understand life in Las Vegas, people need to realize that there is much more than just the gambling industry. Although this is the driving force which has kept this city alive during the sweltering summer heat and constant movement, people in Vegas are able to experience much more. Locals are able to witness concerts, shows and performances of the greatest world-famous stars in show business without travelling to a distant city.
Not too far from the neon lights, people are also able to experience quite a number of outdoor activities. The Vegas valley is enclosed by mountains and rough terrain, allowing visitors and locals to explore various extreme sports.

Yet, the majority of people who visit Vegas are inclined towards gambling. The gambling lifestyle as seen in movies and on TV mainly aims to attract as many gamblers as possible, which is why it is often portrayed as a luxurious, easy-money, care-free way of life. After all, Vegas has been facing some serious threats of extinction. NetBet and similar popular online casinos rapidly replaced the land-based lobbies of entire resorts filled with tables and slot machines.

Still, there are a few characteristics of the gambling lifestyle in Las Vegas which make the experience exciting and irreplaceable.

Time Stands Still in Las Vegas
This characteristic of the gambling lifestyle in Las Vegas is one of the many tactics employed by hotel and resort managers in an attempt to keep players on the casino floor. They tend to provide a full-service experience and a place to eat, drink, sleep, party or even shop within their establishment in order to prevent players from leaving. Thus, gamblers often get carried away and end up spending too many sleepless nights in the lobby without any idea of the actual time.

Gambling Is Also a Profession
Although this could also be true for any other town where gambling is legal and regulated, Las Vegas does offer greater variety when it comes to developing your gambling skills. Previous generations have already set the basics for the industry, leaving youngsters with a done product which simply needs some refurbishing now and then.

In order to enjoy your stay in Vegas, you need to understand that this is not an easy way to make a living. Despite stereotypical beliefs, there is only a very small portion of gamblers who actually accumulate all their income from gambling and can sustain themselves and their family.

Gambling Etiquette
Just like any other official business, gambling in Las Vegas casinos is done under certain unwritten rules. Small things like asking whether the chair is free or not, or simply learning the rules of the game before placing your bet and throwing a fit for losing your money often mean a lot to the typical Las Vegas gambler.

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On This Date: June 30, 1996, The Sands Hotel & Casino Closed

June 30, 2017

Sands Hotel & Casino

Sands Hotel & Casino A Place in the Sun

On this date the Sands Hotel & Casino Closed, June 30, 1996. The Historic hotel was the seventh hotel to open on the famous Las Vegas Strip on December 15, 1952. The Sands was was owned by Howard Hughes in the mid 1960’s.

Sands

Sands Hotel & Casino witht the Famous Rat Pack names on the Marquee

The original movie, Ocean’s 11 was filmed at the Sands and during this time movie stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford performed at the Copa Room. This is considered the birthplace of the “Rat Pack” and it was called the “Summit at the Sands”.  Another Famous lounge act was that of Louis Prima who performed at the Sands in the ’60s and early ’70s. The hotel was closed on June 30, 1996 and later imploded on November 26, 1996. The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino now resides at the Sands former location.

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On this Date: June 28 2006 The Klondike Casino on the Las Vegas Strip Closed

June 28, 2017
Klondike Inn

Klondike Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip

On this Day, June 28 2006 the Klondike Casino located at the very southern end of the Las Vegas Strip Closed its doors. The Klondike Hotel closed two days later.

Kona Kai Motel

The Klondike opened in 1962 as the Tiki-themed Kona Kai Motel, and included a restaurant and cocktail lounge. Ralph Engelstad purchased the motel in 1967.  In 1973, four motel buildings from Engelstad’s other property, the Flamingo Capri motel (later re-opened as the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino), were relocated and converted into a one-story motel building for the Kona Kai.

Klondike Inn (1975-1982)

In 1975, John Woodrum split from his business partner, Bill Boyd. Woodrum and another partner, Katsumi Kazama, purchased the motel that year for $1.2 million and renamed it as the Klondike Inn. Woodrum became the sole owner in May 1976.In 1976, Woodrum provided a power line to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, which had not been lit for several years. The county later provided power to the sign.

Klondike Hotel and Casino (1982-2006)

In 1982, Woodrum added a casino and renamed the motel as the Klondike Hotel and Casino.  In September 2004, Leroy’s Horse & Sports Place began operating a sports book at the casino.  In May 2005, Royal Palm Las Vegas LLC bought 5.25 acres of land adjacent to the Klondike for $42 million.

The Klondike closed its casino on June 28, 2006, and the hotel two days later.

Photo by: wikipedia.org

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