Mormons to Build Second Las Vegas Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has announced plans to erect a second Las Vegas temple. The temple will occupy the northwest valley, located on Lone Mountain Road between Craig and Alexander roads, about 16 miles west of Las Vegas’ first Mormon temple.

That will make Las Vegas only the second US city with two Mormon temples. The first was Provo, Utah. (The other cities with two Mormon temples are Lima, Peru, Manilia, Philippines, São Paulo, Brazil,and Mexico City, Mexico.) Church president Russell M. Nelson announced the new temple on Sunday during the church’s twice-yearly conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. He did not say when it would begin construction or open.

Mormon Temple Las Vegas
Mormon Temple Las Vegas
The first Mormon Temple in Las Vegas overlooks the Strip from the base of Frenchman Mountain (frequently and erroneously called Sunrise Mountain) in northeast Las Vegas. It is about to be joined by a second temple in the northwest. (Image: unlv.edu)

Nevada is home to 180,000 Mormons, or 6% of the state’s population, according to the church.

Las Vegas’ first Mormon temple opened in 1989 at the base of Frenchman Mountain. When asked why Las Vegas was selected as the site for the 43rd LDS church, according to a church website, late LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley replied: “I don’t know of any place in all the world that needs one more. I don’t know of a place in the world where you see more clearly the contrast between evil and good than you do in this city. This place needs a temple.”

Vegas’ Mormon Roots

Members of the LDS church, founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, were the first group of Europeans known to have settled in Las Vegas. On June 14, 1855, missionaries from Salt Lake City arrived on orders from the church’s second president, Brigham Young, to establish an outpost at which to convert the Paiute Indians to Mormonism. The area was chosen for Mormon expansion because it was the halfway point between the Mormon settlements in Southern Utah and San Bernardino, Calif.

The Mormons built an adobe settlement along a spring-fed creek a mile from what is now downtown Las Vegas. (Remnants of it now centerpiece Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort Historic Park.) After less than two years, the settlers abandoned their new home to help fight the Utah War, a yearlong armed confrontation between the Utah Mormons and the armed forces of the US government.

In 1905, the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad brought the Mormons back. Since then, they have wielded great financial and political influence on the development of the region, helping to finance and approve construction of many of the Strip’s casinos.

Former US Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who represented Nevada from 1987 to 2017, came from a small town 60 miles outside Las Vegas to become the most visible and influential Mormon politician in the church’s history. Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport was renamed in his honor following Reid’s death last year.

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