The first settlers, Mormon missionaries, arrived on June 14, 1855 and selected a site, along one of the creeks that flowed from the Las Vegas springs, on which they would build the fort. The fort served as the mid point on the trail from Salt Lake City, Utah and Los Angeles, California.
The fort was surrounded by high adobe walls that extended for . While called a fort, it never really was home to any military troops. Around 1860, a small detachment of U.S. Army troops were assigned to protect the settlers at the fort. They stayed for about 5 years.
In present day Las Vegas, the site is just east of Las Vegas Boulevard and slightly north of the downtown area and Fremont Street. This is the only state park located in a city that actually houses the first building ever built in that city.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 1, 1972. Additional land surrounding the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1978.
At some point, the now defunct Las Vegas Land and Water Company acquired the property. In 1955 the land was acquired by the Las Vegas Elks. With support of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the city of Las Vegas acquired the fort in 1989.
A $4.5 million renovation was completed in 2005.