%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
People & Life Ways
Riches, Ranching & Railroads

Life in Moapa Valley (Spanish)

Click the phonograph to hear the passage in Spanish.

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

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society