|Location of Early Henderson (Jericho Heights)|
In the area pictured, you can see some of the oldest houses still around. Bike riding through those streets brings back a feeling of the old west. A simpler time, where you could get shot in broad daylight for looking at someone sideways. Come to think of it, not much has changed in that area.
Then in 1941 the Basic Magnesium Inc. (BMI) plant was built, about 6 years after Hoover Dam was completed. Due to the World War II, and the government's need to burn down Germany and Japan, magnesium was needed. So, working with Nevada Senator Pat McCarran, an Ohio businessman named Howard Eels convinced the federal government to help fund the building of a new magnesium production plant through Eels company, Basic Refractories.
|Carver Park (shown in red)|
|Robert and Rosie Lee Williams and Family|
The first family to move to Carver Park
(Courtesy of UNLV Special Collections)
After the hospital opened, more people were attracted to the area. Through a government program, people were allowed to purchase the homes that were originally built by BMI as worker housing. Little by little, people started to return to the area and in 1951 the Henderson Home News weekly appeared as it's first newspaper.
Soon the old BMI property was purchased by... BMI. After the war, the property and factory reverted to the government and was no longer operated by Basic Magnesium Inc. but the Nevada Legislature formed an independent company called Basic Management Incorporated (BMI) to run the old site and manage the town. They still exist today and still manage the old site. They also own a company called Landwell that is currently reclaiming and developing some of the old contaminated land left over around the plant.
Many companies began leasing parts of the old BMI plant including Kerr McGee, Titanium Metals Corporation aka Timet Corporation, Chemstar Lime and Pioneer Chlor Alkali.
In 1953 the city was renamed Henderson in honor of Senator Charles B. Henderson and incorporated to become an actual city encompassing all of the original areas of the town. Soon after, industry started booming.
Henderson got it's first radio station, KBMI-AM 1400 one year after incorporation which featured talk, music and peronalities that were popular with the troops stationed at Nellis Air Force Base including Geno Jackson and Herman Schmerdly. As a interesting side note, the station went off the air for a few years in the 60's and right before the station lost it's licence for non operation, the owners resorted to hiring an audio engineer from Caesars Palace to fix some faulty equipment and get the station on the air.
Henderson is now the second largest city in Nevada and it is still growing. Strange things happen here and the reason I researched much of this history is that it explains some of what we currently see. This all started with researching why Eastgate and Middlegate Roads are named that... Turns out that they were the roads that led to the east and middle gates of the old BMI plant. Great Stuff!!!
Thank you to the Las Vegas Sun, Mark Hall-Patton (the director of the Clark County Museum), Mark Paris, CEO of the LandWell Corporation and the many interesting folks interviewed for this post.