Stop In and Step Back in Time! No town has a more intriguing and lovable museum than Mesquite! The Virgin Valley Heritage Museum is at the heart of Mesquite Boulevard, an arrow-straight road that, in the late 1800s, connected farmsteads of the little settlement along the Virgin River. It is no accident that the museum sits on the route of the Old Spanish Trail, as this has always been a gateway to Southern Nevada. That valley trail has transitioned into a commercial area that stretches over 2 miles from Interstate 15, Exit 120, returning to the highway at Exit 122 as it bumps into the Nevada-Arizona border. Modern Mesquite long ago gave up alfalfa for golf course fairways, but it hasn’t forgotten its past.
Look for the low rock building across from City Hall that houses the museum. It features artifacts that are authentic Mesquite history, displaying only items that are part of the local area’s past. There is the monstrous movie projector from the town’s early Elward Theatre and the 1916 state championship trophy earned by the Virgin Valley HS basketball team. The team played their home games on a dirt court! This collection has something for everybody to enjoy, spanning from paleo times to present day.
Museum Director Elsbeth Kuta will show you around. She points with pride to a newly-acquired bronze sculpture, and is pleased to play a record on the 1933 Victrola in the parlor room that was once the home of Mesquite’s beloved nurse, Bertha Howe. Elsbeth can help those who come to Mesquite to learn more about early families of the area. The museum sells books about local history, including the hilarious stories by Eddy Bounsall, one of the last gold miners of Gold Butte. A local living legend, “Tuffy” Ruth, sometimes stops by the museum. He can be counted on to regale with stories of his dynamite blasting days, building the I-15 highway through the Virgin Gorge, and other true tales of southern Nevada history.
Be sure to see the museum’s pioneer garden, planted with grapes, cotton, hollyhocks, and plants native to the area, and the adjacent garage-sized annex room that was once the town fire department. This entire museum is a labor of love that has grown through the dedicated volunteer work of many residents. More about this gem can be found on the City of Mesquite website. Visit the museum Tuesday through Saturday, 10a-4p, at 35 W. Mesquite Blvd, Ph 702-346-5705.
To wind up your step back in time, take a quick walk one block east of the museum to the Golden West for a good old-fashioned hamburger. This small casino-restaurant at 91 E. Mesquite Blvd, has a non-smoking dining room that has been lauded for serving the best burgers in town. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring burgers, BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches among other old-time favorites. The mural on the building was painted to commemorate the City of Mesquite’s 25th anniversary a few years back. The faux paintings in the windows and the little stage coach out front were “original” with the casino.
— Linda Faas