|People & Life Ways|
|Riches, Ranching & Railroads|
Mexicans have been a part
of the cultural mix of Nevada from the earliest days of exploration and
settlement. Mexicans who settled here worked as farmers, teamsters,
on the railroads, as miners and cowboys, and in many other occupations
all over the state.
In a small southern Nevada town, Moapa, Mexican workers and their families have long been the predominant ethnic group in the Moapa Valley community. Mexicans were working on the railroad by 1904. It was a lonely, hard job. The men spent their time in isolated railroad sections.
The Mexicans of Moapa Valley were migrant agricultural workers. Groups of farm workers followed the harvest all over the United States. The workers who came to Moapa Valley came north to Nevada through Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. They usually left in May, after harvest in the spring, and moved on to California, Utah, and Idaho. Sometimes they went as far north as Oregon and Washington.
Mexican workers began coming to Moapa Valley during and after World War II. The living conditions were rough. Farm owners provided simple one or two room homes. They had electricity but no indoor plumbing or kitchen facilities. Tenants shared a water faucet outdoors, as well as bathrooms and shower rooms.
Migrant workers helped harvest
tomato and celery plants, onions, radishes, carrots, spinach, and cantaloupe.
By the 1970s agriculture in the Moapa Valley began to decline and now only
onions and alfalfa are raised commercially. The need for migrant
workers has declined. Many of the descendants of Mexican workers
have stayed in the valley, making it their permanent home.
Reader: Reina Moore
Nevada Historical Society