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A guide to information about water and water management in Las Vegas,
Southern Nevada and the West

"April 1916-Artesian Well on Eglington Ranch near Las Vegas, NV"


General Reference Works

"15in. Learrbenhemier Well- location: Just off Charleston, 2 blocks past railroad"

Water, A History of Las Vegas, Florence Lee Jones and John F. Cahlan (Las Vegas Water District, 1975) bibliography TD 224 N8 J67

Water in the West, J.B. Smallwood, ed. Articles from a special 1983 issue of the Journal of the West bibliography TC 423.6 W36 1983

A River too far: the past and future of the arid west, Joseph Finkhouse and Mark Crawford, Nevada Humanities Committee, 1991 bibliography TD 218 R58x 1991

Rivers of Empire: water, aridity, and the growth of the American West, Donald Worster, New York : Pantheon Books, 1986, c1985 bibliography HC 107 A17 W67 1986; reprinted Oxford University Press 1992.

Groundwater management in the West, Jeffrey S. Ashley and Zachary A. Smith
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press , 1999 TD223.6 .A86 1999

The sanitary city : urban infrastructure in America from colonial times to the present, Martin V. Melosi, Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000 TD223 .M45 2000

Report upon the Colorado River of the West : explored in 1857 and 1858 by Joseph C. Ives, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1861 (pt.2 Hydrographic Report)
F788 U59

Clark County 208 Water Quality Management Plan (drafts and supplementary material in Special Collections) TD 224 N3 C46

Water for southern Nevada, prepared for State of Nevada, Division of Water Planning ; prepared by URS Company [and] Converse Ward Davis Dixon in cooperation with Las Vegas Valley Water District [Carson City, Nev.] : The Division, [1982] TD225.L3 U78

Building Hoover Dam : an oral history of the Great Depression / Andrew J. Dunar and Dennis McBride Reno, Nev. : University of Nevada Press, [2001?], c1993 TC557.5.H6 D86 2001

Hoover Dam : an American adventure, Joseph E. Stevens
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1988 TC557.5.H6 S74 1988

Federal, State, and Local Government Information

Publications, series, and reports in library collections, and websites (search online catalog as author or keyword for publications, or link to agency's website)

"Eglington Well-Las Vegas, Nevada"

United States Geological Survey. Nevada
Lied Library is a depository Library and houses most USGS publication series (SuDoc #I 19 in Government Publication) Special Collections house early Annual Reports 1883-; including separate reports on irrigation and hydrography, and monographic studies
USGS National Water Information Center
United States. Army. Corps of Topographical Engineers
Los Angeles District
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Wetlands Information
"Surf Your Watershed"
U.S. Bureau of Land Management Nevada
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.
National Agricultural Library Water Quality Information Center

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Nevada Division of Water Resources

Clark County/Southern Nevada Region
Southern Nevada Water Authority
Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning
See also Architectural Studies Library - Local Planning Materials
and Special Collections: Comprehensive Planning Collection (access database) for uncataloged published material
Clark County Sanitation District
Clark County Regional Flood Control District

Las Vegas
Las Vegas Valley Water District
Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee
City of Las Vegas Flood Control Section
Storm water Quality Management Committee

General Library Collections

For a general guide to print and electronic sources see subject guide Environmental Studies on Library Website:

Online catalog search terms/subjects specific to water (add - Nevada, - Clark County or - Las Vegas for more specific searches):
Colorado River system
Colorado River Basin
Colorado River salinity
Flood Control
Hoover Dam
Hydraulic engineering
Hydroelectric dams
Lake Mead
Las Vegas Wash
Nevada Water Conference
River discharge
Rivers - west (U.S.)
Sewerage plans
Storm water management
Urban runoff
Waste water
Waste water treatment
Water - quality
Water - quality - management
Water Resources Development
Water Resources Management
Water Resources Research Conference
Water - supply

Environmental Impact studies (search as title or keyword)
Yucca Mountain
Transportation Studies
MX Missile
Lake Meade National Recreational Area
Electric Power Transmission
Wilderness areas
Las Vegas Wash

Specialized Research Material
in UNLV Libraries Special Collections

"E.R. Griffith, W.R. Thomas, John S. Park"

Hoover Dam
UNLV Libraries Special Collections has the largest collection of materials related to Hoover Dam in the country. Publications, maps, photographs, photograph albums, film, video, manuscripts, diaries, oral histories related to the planning and construction of the dam.

Union Pacific Railroad Collection
Corporate archives of Union Pacific Railroad's Las Vegas operations, records of the Las Vegas Land and Water Company, a subsidiary of the railroad. 1905-1954. 60 boxes. water rights, water lines, mains, wells, sewers, land subdivision, sale of lots, improvements, conservation, blueprints, drawings, maps. Also Engineering and Industrial Development for planning and construction of water facilities.
Inventory available.

Colorado River Commission
The Colorado River Commission is the Nevada state government agency charged with acquiring, managing and protecting all of Nevada's water and hydroelectric resources from the Colorado River. The CRC collected material which was kept in a reference library as a resource for the legal department in its work on the ongoing litigation stemming from the Supreme Court case Arizona vs. California, which arose over issues related to the division of the resources created by the Dam. The collection is comprised of legal records and working files, regulations, technical reports and studies, Nevada CRC minutes, and copies of documents from the CRCs of the Colorado River states and copies of documents from the original agreements and contracts including correspondence from the Los Angeles Water and Power Company from the 1930s. Special Collections also has a complete set of the bound records of Arizona vs. California, including court records, briefs, exhibits, actions, pre-conference reports, arguments and hearings. The exhibits comprise supporting documentation provided by other states party to the case including Nevada, Utah, and the United States, as well as California and Arizona. Among the documents included are a Las Vegas Paiute Briefing Paper - Paiute Water claims, which include copies of the original Helen Stewart contract with the United States giving use of Paiute Indian lands and claims. (inventory available)

Sierra Club
A grass-roots advocacy organization monitoring, promoting and educating the public on environmental issues. The archives of the Southern Nevada Group of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club. Reports, plans, documents, environmental impact statements from all agencies operating in southern Nevada managing or studying natural resources or proposing projects which impact the environment. (inventory available)

State Legislators
Special Collections houses the papers of several Nevada State legislators most extensively those of State Senators Thomas Hickey, John Vergiels, and Jean Ford, whose files contain voluminous files on environmental and natural resource issues which were subjects of state legislation and review. (inventories available)

U.S. Senator Howard Cannon.
Cannon was an influential Democratic Senator from 1958- 1983. His papers and legislative files contain much information concerning environmental issues in Nevada related to Federal programs and legislation. (printed finding aid available)

U.S. Senator Chic Hecht.
One term Senator 1983-88. (inventory available)

Gilbert Buck Papers.
Gilbert Buck was a prominent local land surveyor, engineer and real estate broker. He surveyed and engineered a number of master sewage plans and water treatment and waste facilities in the Las Vegas Valley. He also conducted water and drainage studies for a wide variety of building sites and private developments, as well as general site and mining surveys. His papers contain reports, studies, planning documents, with a large collection of maps and surveys.

Chester Longwell Papers.
Chester Longwell (1887-1975) was a prominent and distinguished geologist, Chair of the department of Geology at Yale, staff member of the U.S. Geological Survey, and research associate at Stanford University. The field work he conducted throughout his life in southern Nevada provided the basis for a long list of text books, monographic studies, articles and reports that established him as the outstanding authority on the geology of southern Nevada. In 1934 he conducted a geological survey of the entire Boulder reservoir flood area now covered by Lake Mead, to record the formations and structures, which would be covered by the lake. He later mapped the floor of the Davis Dam reservoir. He donated his collection of personal papers to UNLV in 1975 shortly before his death. His papers includes a series of his original field notebooks, correspondence, drafts of articles and lectures, reprints and off-prints, maps, photographs, and a collection of books from his personal library.

A.J. Shaver Collection
1925-1964. Shaver was a member of the Colorado River Conference and Commission. Files include Boulder Canyon project/ Colorado River Development, Colorado River Conference, Colorado River Commission, Lower Colorado River Valley Land Use Advisory Committee: congressional bills, proceedings, reports

Florence and John Cahlan Papers
Florence Lee Jones [Cahlan] was a reporter and John Cahlan an editor for the Las Vegas Review Journal. Florence was also a freelance writer. Both were interested in local history and were active in a number of civic organizations. Among their papers are Florence Lee Jones' research notes for Water: A History of Las Vegas, including transcriptions of files from the Las Vegas Land and Water Co. (1905-1954) and Las Vegas Valley Water District (1948-1972) which include minutes, statements, correspondence, and reports. (T- 128 Box 24)

John Wittwer Papers (Agricultural Extension Division)
John Wittwer was the District Agricultural Extension Agent for Clark County who came to southern Nevada in 1921 after having worked as an agent in his native Utah. The Cooperative Extension Service was established by the federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914, to stimulate farm production. It was a cooperative program between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agricultural colleges: in Nevada, the University of Nevada (Reno) Agricultural Extension Division. Each county was organized into county Farm Bureaus through whom the extension programs were conducted. Activities included instruction and demonstrations for farmers, housewives, youth, ranchers and stockmen. Encouraging home projects in gardening, sewing, livestock raising and other domestic projects. The extension service organized what later became 4-H Clubs throughout the state. Most counties had their own resident agent. The Extension Service was technically administered through the University's School of Agriculture and its Dean, but under its politically ambitious directors, it became a de facto independent agency.

Wittwer served as county agent through 1951 and his primary concerns in southern Nevada were soil improvement, flood control, water storage, drainage and irrigation, livestock development and the establishment of the dairy industry in southern Nevada. Wittmer also assisted in organizing and establishing the first CCC camp in Southern Nevada, in Kyle Canyon. Surveys plans and specifications for flood control were turned over to the Engineering Division of the Forest Service, and CCC camps were used on flood control operations in Moapa, Virgin, Panaca and Pahranagat Valleys. The collection consists of the annual reports of the Division in southern Nevada including Clark, Lincoln and Nye Counties. The reports contain detailed information about the activities of the Division and include many photographs documenting the various projects including a typescript Report with photographs of Flood Control Work in Southern Nevada Winter of 1933 and 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In addition the collection contains separate reports about specific projects and publications concerning flood control and irrigation, critical factors for agriculture in southern Nevada. The collection spans the years from 1921 (when Wittmer became agent) to 1960 (complete series of annual reports) with additional materials up to 1966. The reports cover the agencies activities, as well as the activities of the County Farm Bureaus.


from the Maurice and Fred Wilson Collection

Government Publications
Current federal and state agency maps (USGS, Nevada Bureau of Mines, Bureau of Land Management) are located in Government Publications, historic and superceded maps in Special Collections

Special Collections
Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning (see also Architectural Studies Library - map)

Union Pacific Railroad Collection (see above) This collection contains maps showing early water sources, springs and pipelines in Las Vegas. See inventory in Special Collections

General Nevada, Clark County, and Las Vegas
Most maps in Special Collections are cataloged. For tips in searching the catalog for maps see - or search subject heading Municipal water supply - Nevada -- maps


"First Artesian Well 1 mile SW Taylor Ranch"

Special Collections maintains an extensive photographic collection relating to Las Vegas and southern Nevada.
See card index under water, water supply, water - underground, wells

Major collections for Hoover Dam
Bureau of Reclamation (Coll.#71)
L.F. Manis [Las Vegas Visitors' Center] Coll.100
Morgan Sweeney [Bureau of Reclamation](Coll.228)
F.M. Murphy, photographer [Bureau of Reclamation] (Coll.232)
W.H. Bechtel [The Six Companies] Photo Albums: "Photographic Record Hoover Dam Project, Six Companies, Inc., Builders" (Coll.267)
Burrell C. Lawton [The Six Companies] (Coll.120)
Elton and Madelaine Garrett (Coll.265)
Glen Davis, photographer (Coll.20)
Ernest Mitchell Pratt, photographer (Coll.206)

Collections for early Las Vegas
Maurine and Fred Wilson (Coll.14)
Lake-Eglington (Coll.10)
Helen Stewart (Coll. 104)

UNLV Libraries Special Collections maintains current Landiscor Aerial map of Las Vegas and has continuous series (Cooper and Landiscor) from 1974 to the present.

Western Exploration

"Artesian Well at Cragin Home"

Special Collections has a significant collection concerning the exploration of the American west, southwest, Nevada and Southern Nevada. This collection contains the original published reports of the great 19th century western surveys conducted by the U.S. government, travel accounts and diaries as well as the great series of maps and atlases that accompanied the published accounts. These reports covered all fields of 19th century natural science and contained artist renderings of the region's physical characteristics as well as its flora and fauna. The perceived potential for the agricultural development of the west prompted considerable study of the region's hydrogeology and the feasibility of irrigation. These reports were published voluminously in the USGS annual reports and in the official reports of specific expeditions.

Pacific Railroad Survey, 1855-60
Reports of explorations and surveys, to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean / made under the direction of the secretary of war, in 1853-[6] .. Washington : A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer [etc.], 1855-60 F593 .U58

Colorado River, 1857-8
United States. Army. Corps of Topographical Engineers. Report upon the Colorado River of the West : explored in 1857 and 1858 by Joseph C. Ives Washington: Govt. Print. Office. 1861 F788 U59

Arid Regions, 1879
Powell, John Wesley, Report on the lands of the arid region of the United States : with a more detailed account of the lands of Utah. With maps / by J. W. Powell
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1879 2d ed HD1671.U5 P68 1879

Great Salt Lake, 1853
United States. Army. Corps of Topographical Engineers Exploration and survey of the valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, including a reconnoissance of a new route through the Rocky Mountains. By Howard Stansbury, captain, Corps topographical engineers, U.S. Army. Printed by order of House of representatives of the United States
Washington, R. Armstrong, public printer, 1853 F826 .U559

Mexican Boundary Survey, 1846-7
Notes of a military reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, including parts of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers. By W. H. Emory, brevet-major, corps topographical engineers. Made in 1846-7, with the advanced guard of the "Army of the west." Washington, Wendell and Van Benthuysen, printer, 1848

Map of the United States and their territories between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean and part of Mexico / compiled from surveys made under the order of W.H. Emory; and from the maps of the Pacific Rail Road, General Land Office, and the Coast Survey; projected and drawn under the supervision of Lt. N. Michler, by Thomas Jekyll ; engraved by Selmar Siebert; UNLV Spec Maps; G4050 1857 .J44

Surveys west of the 100th Meridian,1874-5
Report upon United States Geographical surveys west of the one hundredth meridian / in charge of First Lieut.Geo. M. Wheeler ... under the direction of the chief of engineers, U.S. Army. Published by authority of ... the secretary of war in accordance with acts of Congress of June 23, 1874, and February 15, 1875. In seven volumes and one supplement, accompanied by one topographic and one geologic atlas ..
Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office, 1875-89 v. 1-7, Appendix F, 2 atlases
QE 74 W6

Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, 1867-69
Report of the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel / made by order of the secretary of war according to the acts of congress of March 2, 1867, and March 3, 1869, under the direction of ...A.A.Humphreys, chief of engineers, by Clarence King, U.S. geologist, [Washington : Government Printing Office, 1870-80] Atlas QE74 .K5

Freemont's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1842-4
Report of the exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 : and to Oregon and north California in the years 1843-44 / by Brevet Capt. J.C. Fremont ; under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert, Chief of the Topographical Bureau ; printed by order of the House of Representatives. Washington : Blair and Rives, Printers, 1845 F592 .F83 1845

Map of an exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 and to Oregon & north California in the years 1843-44 / by Brevet Capt. J.C. Fremont of the Corps of Topographical Engineers under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert, Chief of the Topographical Bureau ; lith. by E. Weber Co., Baltimore, Md [Washington, D.C. : U.S. Senate, 1845]
UNLV Spec Maps G4051.S12 1844 .F742


"Man and Horse at Clark's Well, Willow Springs, 1908"

The collection of 19th printed material is augmented by the Libraries' extensive microform collection. For subject access see

Project histories and reports of Reclamation Bureau projects, 1902-25 National Archives (M96, 141 reels) TC 23.6 A57x 1950a

Western Americana: frontier history of the Trans-Mississippi West, 1550-1900. Research Publications F 591 W4633x

Over 7,000 titles selected primarily from the collections of the Beineke Library at Yale and the Newberry Library in Chicago compose this collection. These printed sources, ranging from broadsides to congressional reports, cover the discovery, exploration, settlement and development of North America from the Mexican border to the Arctic Ocean and the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific Ocean. Some of the major topics included are: exploration, contact between Indians and whites, the fur trade, the Texas Revolution, the role of the Hudson's Bay Co. in Canada, the mining frontier, the Mormon experience, the railroads, and the sheep and cattle

Letters received by John Wesley Powell, director of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain region, 1869-79 National Archives (M156, 10 reels)
QE 74 L47x 1869a

Letters received by the United States Geological Survey, 1879-1901 National Archives (M590, 118 reels) QE 76 G46x 1964a

Letters sent by the United States Geological Survey, 1879-1895 National Archives (M152, 29 reels) QE76 G45x 1949a

Nevada, State Engineer, annual reports, 1903-1930 Nevada State Library and Archives TA 24 N3 A1 1991

Nevada, State Engineer-water claims & laws, annual reports, 1905-1930 Nevada State Library and Archives TC 424 N3 A558 1991

Biennial report of the State Water Commissioner to the Governor of Arizona Phoenix, Ariz: The Commissioner, TC 824 A6 A4

This report highlights the irrigation and legislation of the water supply in Arizona from the years 1919 - 1940.

Other University Resources

from the Union Pacific Collection
Harry Reid Center
Desert Research Institute
Geoscience Department
Environmental Studies Department

Updated: Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:54:25 PST
Content Provider: Peter Michel
Page Editor: Thomas Sommer