1940s: Spreading the Word...


"Tourists and Industries or the Same Old Stuff?"

Chamber president Baker launches a campaign entitled "Tourists and Industries or the Same Old Stuff?" His is one of the first campaigns to emphasize the future importance of tourism to Las Vegas and the need to provide the roads and infrastructure to accommodate the influx.


Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School Opens

The Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School opens in the space that would become McCarran International Airport. The Chamber and Senator McCarran are instrumental in brokering the deal that led to the gunnery school's formation. General Patton would train U.S. troops here in preparation for the Northern Africa campaign against Hitler's troops.


El Rancho Vegas Opens

The first hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, the El Rancho Vegas, opens. James Cashman, Bob Griffith, and other Chamber members had once invited hotelier and owner Thomas Hull to Las Vegas to encourage him to build the property; Cashman was able to convince Hull that he could use his customer base from other properties he owned to lure them to Las Vegas.


Basic Magnesium

Chamber leaders, alongside Chalres Belknap Henderson, the chair of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, play a large role in obtaining the Basic Magnesium plant, helping to form the city of Henderson. At one point, the plant employs over 13,000 workers (10% of Nevada's total population) and plays a major role in supplying magnesium to troops during World War II.


Las Vegas Water District is Formed

Chamber president Max Kelch, a former chemist, launches a vigorous offensive against garbage, flies, and polio, which eventually leads to the formation of the Las Vegas Water District. He rallies support from the school board, local military, and political leadership to back his cause.


The Livewire Fund: Putting Las Vegas on the Map

Maxwell Kelch and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce budget $75,000 for post-war publicity and launch the Livewire Fund. This is a major step forwards in establishing Las Vegas as the vacation and tourist destination that it is today. It is also an instrumental step in the formation of the Desert Sea News Bureau, now known as the Las Vegas News Bureau.

Charles "Pop" Squires writes in the Las Vegas Age newspaper to rally support for the Livewire Fund, "All businessmen should join in the campaign to spread the fame of Las Vegas to every part of the country in preparation for the vast surge of travel which the end of the war will start."


The First Buffet

Future Las Vegas Chamber executive Herb McDonald unveils the first Las Vegas buffet by lining up cold cuts on a bar top. It is known as the Chuck Wagon Buffet and is housed at the El Rancho Vegas Hotel.


Vegas Vic Is Born

The Chamber, as a part of its initiatives through the Livewire Fund, commissions the West-Marquis Firm, a West Coast-based advertising agency, to design an ad campaign for tourism. Their original design is the iconic "Vegas Vic," which inspired the famous neon sign still seen on Fremont Street today. Vegas Vic and his tagline, "Howdy podner" become one of theĀ  most recognizable symbols of Las Vegas.