Las Vegas, New Mexico, since its birth has offered true but colorful glimpses of indigenous peoples, wild western characters, saints and sinners. It has survived as a City and a town simultaneously and revels in an eclectic living testament to many of the significant architectural periods in time. It no doubt can be described with words like “authentic”, “real,” “unvarnished” and having “grit.”

Booming Brothels and Bars

At one point in its history demand for debauchery led to Las Vegas, New Mexico becoming a booming development of saloons, bars and brothels. It was in 1897 that the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union sprang into action attempting to bring wholesome living back to their beloved Las Vegas. They commissioned artist, Angelo de Tullio, to create a water fountain in the shape of a lion conveniently located near the cluster of saloons to offer water as a cure to their men’s seemingly unquenchable thirst. The fountain perhaps, could entice their men to forgo the neighboring liquid spirits being offered in the numerous bars that served patrons both local and traveling. Simplistic, but perhaps they believed the men were indeed thirsty and that alone would lure anyone to partake in the liquid and lust of the Railroad district.

The "Water Cure", Las Vegas, New Mexico

The “Water Cure” was implemented in cities around the country.

The Lion

The lion was formed using Romeroville Sandstone and has red tones of color. A sandstone base lifts the lion to just above waist level and is surrounded by a trough to catch the overflowing water. It sits in a triangular park at the corner of Grand Ave and the infamous Lincoln Street.

Lion Fountain, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Lion Fountain in preparation for restoration.

The lion serves as a reminder of the wild western trail and the women who loved Las Vegas and their men enough to spur change. The lion also serves as the visual symbol of GRIT, [Defined as courage, bravery, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, resolve, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance, toughness.] Grit runs in the very makeup of the people, the architecture and attractions in Las Vegas and flows in the culture and bloodlines of the people who came here and made Las Vegas, New Mexico, their home.