Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph A. Pepe, of the Diocese of Las Vegas, will be the guest of honor Wednesday at a special ceremony that will mark the 239th anniversary of Father Francisco Garcés expedition into what is now the present state of Nevada.
An historical marker is now located along the Needles Highway, directly across from the Big Bend Conservation Area (a former Boys Scout Camp), about two miles south of Casino Drive. It roughly marks the area in which it is believed that Garcés actually crossed the river on Mar. 4, 1776, which is outlined specifically in the explorer’s diary.
Wednesday’s celebration will include a ribbon cutting ceremony at the historical marker. The Bishop will also bless the site in remembrance of the Franciscan fryer, who not only was an important missionary and explorer of what was then called New Spain, but is also widely credited as the man who gave the Colorado River its name.
The Saint Thomas More Society of Nevada, a society of Catholic attorneys, worked very closely with the state to have the historical marker erected. State officials believe that there was an original marker located elsewhere alongNeedles Highway, but believe it was lost during various road construction projects during Laughlin’s boomtown years. Nonetheless, the new historical marker is believed to be located much closer to the actual Garcés crossing in 1776.
The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. (PST). It will be followed by a prayer service at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on El Mirage Way, starting at 2:30 p.m. A reception on the Church patio will conclude the events.
03 will provide special bus service from the parish parking lot to the ribbon cutting.