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John C. Fremont
1813-1890

John C. Fremont traveled the roughest parts of the West to put new places on the map. He discovered many places in his time, including Las Vegas.

John C. Fremont
John C. Fremont
Photo courtesy of
UNLV Special Collections
Fremont heads west
Fremont was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1813. As a young
man, he helped map the country between the Upper Mississippi
and Missouri rivers. Then in 1843, the United States Congress
approved money for a U.S. Army expedition into the West to map
the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Fremont, along with Christopher "Kit" Carson, set out to map out a wagon and railroad route across North America. On their way, they explored the Truckee and Carson river basin and discovered Pyramid Lake in Northern Nevada.

In 1844, Fremont headed south to find the Old Spanish Trail. He traveled to a place known to the Spanish as "Las Vegas," or "the meadows." There he rested at the Las Vegas Springs and noted the trails he took to get there on a map.

Putting Las Vegas on the map
Fremont's band of explorers faced many dangers during the expedition. They survived Indian fights, starvation and thirst. But the route through Las Vegas became well traveled because of Fremont. Once Fremont returned to Washington, Congress printed thousands of copies of his journal and the map of his trip. The route through Las Vegas became famous as part of the "Old Spanish Trail."

John C. Fremont went on to have many more adventures. He led more expeditions to California, fought battles against the Mexican government and even ran for president of the United States. He fought as a general in the Union army in the Civil War and was appointed governor of Arizona in 1878. His explorations led people to call him "the Pathfinder."