Nevada Latinos and the Coming of the Railroad
The coming of the railroad to Nevada not only brought new jobs and economic opportunities but also introduced different cultures and peoples. Among the migrant groups that came to Nevada, none was more tied to the railroads than the Mexicans. The recruitment efforts of U.S. railroad companies in Mexico was so successful that between 1880 and 1930 Mexicans made up 70 percent of the section crews and 90 percent of the extra workers on the principal railroad lines in the Southwest.
By 1910 Mexican workers comprised most of the track maintenance crews working on the major railroad lines in the Southwest. In fact, in 1909 the Dillingham Commission found that Mexican laborers had done most of the railroad construction work in the inhospitable desert areas of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Colorado. With the completion of the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake railroad on May 5, 1905, Las Vegas had its beginnings, and Mexican railroad workers were among the first residents of the city that eventually became the entertainment capital of the world.