They may not be viticulturists, but workers with the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) tested their green thumbs recently when they moved a 140-year-old grapevine from the path of demolition in Las Vegas for the Project NEON Interstate 15 widening project scheduled for next year.
“We were presented with a unique and unexpected opportunity to save a piece of living local history,” said NDOT Public Information Officer Tony Illia. “We’re excited to preserve this grapevine for future generations to enjoy.”
The plant was located at Meyers Electrical Maintenance in downtown Las Vegas and had been there since 1972. It was planted by Mormon settlers in Toquerville, Utah, and had been part of a 500-acre site that reportedly produced 1,700 tons of wine in 1875. It was moved to Las Vegas some time in the early 1900s.
It remains in Las Vegas but at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park inside the park gardens. “We’re thrilled to provide a new home for this fascinating well-traveled piece of living history,” said Beth Hewitt, park supervisor. “It complements the historic fort structures, while also embodying the hardy pioneering spirit.”
NDOT reports additional clippings of the vine have been replanted at a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension site and at the Sanders Family Winery in Pahrump.
Project NEON involves the widening of a 3.7 mile stretch of I-15 between Sahara Avenue and the I-15/U.S. 95 interchange in Downtown Las Vegas.