Nevada Correspondence – November 2015

In this edition:

Baker, Gold Point, Las Vegas(2), Laughlin, Lincoln County, Mesquite, Tuscarora, Virginia City, West Wendover, Railfanning in Nevada



Although November sees fewer humans in and around Baker, it’s the time of year when thousands of sheep return to the valley. Snake Valley, the long valley that contains Baker and several other small communities, has long been an important wintering location for sheep. In the old days, it was a contest to bring sheep from more populated areas along the Wasatch Front in Utah to the isolated areas near Baker. There would be one or two sheepherders for each 2,000 sheep, and they wanted the best grazing spots. A sheepherder would live out of his wagon, going to a rural store every few weeks to get supplies. His only other contact was with the sheep, his horse and his dogs. Talk about a solitary life.

Sheep crossing highway near BakerToday, most of the rural stores have closed and better transportation exists, but it’s still a fairly solitary life for sheepherders. Not many people want to do it, and sheep operators often have to recruit men from other countries to be sheepherders. For many decades Basque sheepherders dominated the industry, but today it’s mostly Peruvians. They often spend a year or two watching sheep before they go back to see their families.

If you see a flock of sheep, take a close look. Do you notice a few brown ones? The sheep owner usually puts in one brown sheep for every 25 or 50 white sheep so they can be counted more easily. Also, an occasional sheep has on a sheep bell, ringing loudly as the sheep moves, so that the sheepherder can follow the sheep by sound.

Big white dogs with the sheep are sometimes referred to as livestock guardian dogs.

The most common types of sheep dog in this area are the Great Pyrenees and the Akbash. They are strong and loyal, and they always stay with the sheep, protecting them from predators like coyotes. They also protect them from strange humans, so it’s never a good idea to get out of your car near a big sheep dog.

What else is going on in Baker in November?
Well, November First is the time-change, and the shorter days mean things are really slowing down in Baker. This is a time to cherish the cooler nights and crisp days. Many of the local businesses are closing up for the season, but there is still lodging, food, and gas available in town year-round.

There are some special events in Baker that the town is looking forward to. The school Harvest Festival will be held Friday, November 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Baker Hall (the pink building in town). It’s a potluck dinner and then an auction to raise money for the local schools.

Baker Turkey Shoot 2014The annual Turkey Shoot will be held Saturday, November 21 with signups starting at 8:30 am at the old dump south of town (take the road opposite the cemetery). You don’t actually shoot at turkeys, they are the prizes! The turkey shoot is a competition with varying distances and classes of shooting. Pistol, rifle, shot gun, 25 yd, 50 yd, 100 yd, 500 yd, clay pigeons, open sights, scopes, and various combinations of all these and more are held. Archery is also included.

Lehman Cave will be closed for cave tours on Thanksgiving Day, one of three days the cave is closed (the other two are Christmas and New Year’s). Cave tours will be held every other day of the month. For more information Holiday Craft Fair, Baker 1and to make advance reservations, call 775-234-7517. The rest of the park is open throughout the month, although some roads will be closed as they get icy and snow-covered.

The Border Inn will hold their annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, November 28. This is a great time to get your holiday gifts and find something unique and locally made. It’s always a popular event with lots of socializing and is a great way to kick off the holiday season.

And if you want to learn more about sheep, check out the Border Inn — there is a whole wall of photos of sheepherders, sheep owners and others associated with the sheep industry.

Gretchen Baker

(Visit Gretchen’s fascinating blog, Desert Survivor)


Gold Point

It’s almost that time of year when the ghosts and goblins come out in your neck of the woods unless you live here in Gold Point, where we have ghosts every full moon. It’s also that time of year to invite you to our annual Day After Thanksgiving Dinner, next month on Friday November 27th at 2 pm-ish. Chips, dips, a variety of veggies, and Sandy’s stuffed deviled eggs will be put out around noonish. We will be picking up three turkeys in a couple of weeks, each over 30 pounds, and the rest of our supplies a week or so before the event, so we need to know how many people to buy food for by then.
Gold Point fire 1

Okay, what next? Oh yeah! Sadly, three weeks ago, the Gold Point Fire Department got a call at 1:20 am for a structure fire in, of all places, Gold Point! A house on the west side of town had caught fire. By the time we got there, smoke was coming out of the roof more than out the doors or windows. It appeared that the fire was in the attic, as well. Goldfield assisted, but the fire spread too quickly in the 100-year-old house for us to to be able to put it out. All we could do was hose down the buildings Gold Point fire 2close by to prevent them from catching fire. They were so hot that steam was coming off them as the water was being sprayed on. In a very short while, the house was totally engulfed in flames. It was a very hot fire.

It was nearly sun-up when the flames died down enough for us to finally attack the fire and put it out. Our backup 10,000 gallon tank worked as designed for refills. We have a 4-inch supply hose with an elbow and a nipple to put into our tanks. We refilled our 4,000 gallon tanker twice and the smaller trucks a few times. We finally got back home around 7:30 am.

Gold Point fire 3
Our Gold Point Ghost Town website has been totally redone and updated by our webmistress Patricia, who has Netgirl Enterprises Web Design in Pahrump. It’s like she took it to the laundromat: she separated the old one into different piles and washed everything in hot water, and it came out bright, clean and better than new but shrunk down a little.

Sheriff Stone


Las Vegas

Wax figures of "Phil" and "Alan" at Madame Tussauds "Hangover" Experience
Wax figures of “Phil” and “Alan” at Madame Tussauds “Hangover” Experience

Everyone knows that Madame Tussauds is the world-famous interactive wax museum where you can get up close and take pictures with more than 100 wax figures. Well, the Madame has taken that “up close” to a new high (or low) with the introduction of the world’s first wedding chapel inspired by the movie “The Hangover.” This wedding locale is the centerpiece of the attraction’s newest themed room where daring couples can invite 30 friends and family to enjoy Jägermeister shots, Elvis as the minister, and “Phil” and “Alan” as witnesses. And it’s only going to cost $5,500.

You want more? Couples wishing to add a larger reception can ask for the “Viva Vegas” reception that includes up to 75 guests, a DJ, three-hour buffet, champagne, wedding cake, and special guests including Elvis and Liberace.You gotta love Las Vegas.

Madame Tussauds opens daily at 10 a.m. at Venetian and Grand Canal Shoppes. 866-841-3739.

Casa Shenandoh 04 fr casashenandoah dot comMy good friend Wayne Newton, a.k.a. Mr. Las Vegas, has opened his 52-acre Casa de Shenandoah home to the public. His tour takes fans on a behind-the-scenes look at the life of the man who made Las Vegas his personal and professional home for more than 50 years. Guests get an intimate glimpse of the life of the singer who has been synonymous with Las Vegas since he first took the stage as a teenager at the Fremont Hotel in 1959. See his personal collection of rare automobiles and a lifetime of memorabilia including gifts from friends such as Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, and Jack Benny. And there is the rare opportunity to see Newton’s champion Arabian horses and meet his exotic pets including “Boo” the capuchin monkey, penguins, wallabies, and peacocks.

The experience begins at the Visitor Center (across the street from the estate), where guests see a brief movie about Newton and Casa de Shenandoah before boarding custom shuttles for a ride through the golden gates. Daily tours begin at 9:30 a.m. and start at $35 with special rates for groups, seniors and military personnel. 702-776-7491. Casa de Shenandoah is located at 3310 Sunset Road between Pecos and Eastern.

Diamond Jack Bulavsky


The Downtown 3rd

So, where do you go in Vegas when you need to just relax and enjoy different moods in one location?

The Triple George Grill's handsome turn-of-the-century style barroom
The Triple George Grill’s handsome turn-of-the-century style barroom

You go to Downtown Vegas, of course! Most people go to Fremont Street to get the “Experience.” However, 3rd Street just off the downtown strip is what is called the “Downtown 3rd,” and it has some interesting places to visit. There is the newest hotel/casino, the Downtown Grand, with their Latin kitchen, The Commissary, the Hogs & Heifers Saloon and the Triple George Grill. And they are all just down the block from The Mob Museum and Pizza Rock, which were detailed by Diamond Jack in our August Nevada Correspondence section of the NevadaGram. You can walk to all of these locations from Fremont Street the same day.

The Triple George Grill is the place to see and be seen by the business community for power lunches and happy hour, providing an old world feel with dark woodwork and cozy, high booths. If you go for dinner you should try their eclectic mix of entrees, such as Chicken Christopher with a light country gravy, or try the Baked Goat Cheese with marinara sauce for an appetizer, and the outstanding French onion soup. They also have good ribeyes, New York strip steaks and seafood. Their lunch special of 1/2 sandwich, soup/salad, side dish, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage is $15.99. And if you like wraps, ask if they have the Turkey Wrap with wasabi and cranberry dressing. Delicious with a kick! You will find all of the food tastes great, and you’ll receive a lot for your money.

15 01If you happen to go for dinner at Triple George Grill, afterwards you can swing by Hogs & Heifers Saloon, which is right next door, for some musical entertainment. This is a really loud place at night, with dancing, singing, megaphones … Wait, what? They use megaphones to insult the patrons. You can expect anything here, and I would recommend going if you like the loud and crazy at this time of night — or just go during happy hour, when it will be tamed down, but still with good rock and country music.

The Commissary is on the ground floor of the Downtown Grand Hotel and is nice to stop in for lunch or dinner. They specialize in Latin flavor foods including tortas, tacos, burritos, rotisserie chicken, plus burgers and salads. Inside the Commissary, you can also order breakfast at the Lavazza Coffee Cafe, which has breakfast burritos and crepes but is more known for their coffee, tea and espresso drinks.

So, make it a day at the Downtown 3rd, and hit The Commissary for breakfast, The Mob Museum for some Vegas history, Triple George Grill for lunch, Hogs & Heifers for happy hour into the evening, Pizza Rock for that late night meal, and The Grand to sleep it all off!

Pauline Cimoch



Yardbirds and Manhatans Appear at Harrah’s

Yardbirds 2015 American TourThe Yardbirds, an English rock band formed in London in 1963, will headline the Fiesta Showroom at Harrah’s Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. The band had famous guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, and a string of hits during the mid-1960s, including “For Your Love,” “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Heart Full of Soul.” The current Yardbirds lineup includes original band members Jim McCarty (drums) and Top Topham (lead guitar). Tickets are $30-$40.

The Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston follow on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, with an 8 p.m. show. The quintet from New Jersey began making records in 1963 but didn’t strike it big until the mid-1970s with a series of romantic ballads for Columbia Records. They had eight songs in the R&B Top 10 between 1973 and 1978, with the composition “Kiss And Say Good Bye” going to No. 1 on both the R&B and Pop Charts in 1976. “Shining Star” made it to No. 5 on the Pop Charts and stayed for 14 straight weeks.

The Spinners Visit the E Center
The six-time Grammy-nominated Spinners will headline at The E Center at the

Edgewater on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $65. The Spinners have earned 12 gold records and are one of the few vocal groups with four lead singers. Currently original members Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough,
and Pervis Jackson are joined onstage by lead singer Charlton Washington, high tenor Harold “Spike” Bonhart and a five-piece band. The group has performed for presidents, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and appeared in numerous network and cable television specials paying tribute to the music of the 70s.

Riverside Showcases Variety of Big Name Headliners

The Riverside Resort has lined up an impressive list of headliners for Don’s Celebrity Theatre including in order The Lettermen, Darryl Worley, Doug Kershaw, and Terri Clark.

Doug Kershaw, the legendary Ragin' Cajun
Doug Kershaw, the legendary Ragin’ Cajun

The Lettermen will take the stage Nov. 3-8 at 7 p.m. Through the 1960s and ’70s, The Lettermen scored 20 chart-topping hits with songs like “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and “Hurt So Bad.” Through more than 45 years performing, The Lettermen’s music still has its classic sound. The trio amassed 18 Gold
Albums worldwide. Tickets are $30.

Darryl Worley will chime in Nov. 12-14. Worley has topped the charts with singles including “I Miss My Friend,” “Awful, Beautiful Life” and “Have You Forgotten.” Worley hit the Top Twenty with the first three singles from his major-label debut, “Hard Rain Don’t Last.” Along the way, he earned nominations for five major ACM and CMA
awards, including “Song of the Year” and “Single of the Year.” Worley has been a tireless performer for troops following a 2002 visit to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Uzbekistan that helped inspire “Have You Forgotten?” He has been back nine times since then. Tickets are $25.

Doug Kershaw, affectionately known as the “Ragin’ Cajun,” will make a lively appearance Nov. 17-22. Kershaw performs an energetic mix of rock, blues, jazz, country and Cajun music. As a world-renowned fiddle player and talented singer/songwriter, Kershaw continues to expand his musical boundaries while remaining true to his Cajun roots. His signature hits include “Diggy Diggy Lo,” “Hello Woman” and “Cajun Baby.” Tickets are $25.

Terri Clark will grace the stage Nov. 27-29. Hailing from Canada, Clark got her start playing for tips at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a honky-tonk bar across the alley from Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. The eight-time CCMA Entertainer of the Year has also taken home the CCMA Female Vocalist of the Year award five times. She has made her mark on radio with more than 20 singles. Clark is a no-holds-barred live performer and one of few female country artists capable of throwing down some impressive guitar work. Tickets are $30.

AVI Promotes Blues Music Nights Every Thursday

Kara Grainger, a simply brilliant soul and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist
Kara Grainger, a simply brilliant soul and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist

The Avi continues with Blues at the River at 8 p.m. in the Arrowweed Lounge on Thursday nights. Upcoming acts include: Lee Rocker Nov. 5; Kara Grainger Nov. 12; and Roy Rogers Nov. 19.

Lee Rocker made his mark singing and playing his giant upright bass in the Grammy-nominated music group The Stray Cats. The group sold nearly 10 million albums and garnered 23 gold and platinum certified records worldwide. They remain a radio staple.

Kara Grainger’s music career began in a suburban town of Sydney, Australia, and since then has taken her on an incredible global journey. She combines tasteful blues and slide guitar, soulful vocals and a heartfelt approach to songwriting.

Jackie Brett


Lincoln County

November is Football Playoff Time

Kershaw-Ryan State Park held their 5th Annual Park to Park Pedal Oct. 10. About 215 entries were received with a few people coming from as far away as Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida. Three courses were available, the Nevada Extreme 100, or the shorter 40-mile Helix and the 60-mile Double Jack.

But now it is November. That’s Thanksgiving time, and next year it will be election time. However, in Lincoln County, the thoughts of many turn to high school football.

Pahranagat's Shawn Wadsworth stretches out for a first down catch in the game at Thacher Academy in Ojai, California, Sept. 11
Pahranagat’s Shawn Wadsworth stretches out for a first down catch in the game at Thacher Academy in Ojai, California, Sept. 11

Lincoln County has only two high schools, Lincoln County High in Panaca and Pahranagat Valley High in Alamo, and if the football teams have been doing well, then it is state playoff time.

And so far this year, both teams have been doing well, Pahranagat Valley in particular. The Panthers are the seven-time defending NIAA Division IV state champions, that’s the small school with enrollments of 110 or less, and they play 8-man football. But don’t dismiss 8-man football if you haven’t watched it. At the high level Pahranagat Valley plays it, it is very entertaining and high scoring.Twenty-four states in the U.S. play 8-man football, including Alaska, and Pahranagat Valley is one of the best, consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

Cody Stirling of Pahranagat Valley takes off in the open field after Spencer Thomas of Spring Mountain
Cody Stirling of Pahranagat Valley takes off in the open field after Spencer Thomas of Spring Mountain

Currently, the Panthers have the longest active winning streak in the nation, which includes all 11-man teams as well. 88 straight wins since 2007, and they are closing in on the all-time national 8-man record of 92 set by Shattuck, Oklahoma (2003-2009). Barring an upset, Pahranagat could set a new record of 93 wins at the state championship game Nov. 21.

In the meantime, Lincoln County High is also having a good year. The Lynx had two teams cancel their games, so Lincoln only has eight games on the regular season. They made the playoffs last year, and are in the running for one of the four league berths in the first round of the playoffs.

In November in Lincoln County, it’s fall, football, and Thanksgiving. Usually in that order, too.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Dave Maxwell



Mesquite is back in action!

Mesquite continues to offer attractions that make the town an outdoor sports paradise as well as a rising star in the NV cultural community. From its bike-friendly designation and ATV and OHRV fun to its new symphony orchestra, Mesquite hits all the right notes.

Target shooters will be excited to learn that The Smokin’ Gun Pistol Range and Shot Shooting Club has opened at the old Oasis Gun Club location. For information about the club and its schedule, call Karrie at 970-778-0717 or Connie at 970-260-9048.

"Sand Trap" by Mesquite artist Floyd Johnson
“Sand Trap” by Mesquite artist Floyd Johnson

Mesquite sports the temperatures and sunshine that make it a golfing paradise. For those who haven’t visited this mecca of greens, Mesquite claims some of the premier golfing around. Home to seven 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole course, the world flocks to this “diamond in the desert” for its golf and gambling combo that makes for memorable action vacations. Top rated Mesquite golf and golf packages are described and sold at and


The highly regarded Nevada Open Golf Championship comes to Mesquite November 10-12 at the Palm and CasaBlanca Golf Courses. This championship sponsored by Southern Nevada Golf Association attracts players from far corners, with Seann Harlingten of West Vancouver, BC, taking home the $20,000 first prize last year. Entry form and all details are at

The CasaBlanca Resort welcomes visitors to stay and play in the desert
The CasaBlanca Resort welcomes visitors to stay and play in the desert

For golfers, spectators, and the rest of us, Mesquite offers great evening entertainment. The Casablanca Resort Showroom always presents a lineup of comedy, tribute bands, and good times ( The CasaBlanca is a diverse resort that specializes in spa and golf packages, 1-877-GETAWAY. The Casa Showroom hosts the Southern Nevada Symphony on November 14. This local orchestra boasts 75 musicians and plays to sell-out crowds. Call the Casa front desk,702-345-6789, for $15 symphony tickets.


The world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir comes to Mesquite November 7, performing its heavenly harmony for the lucky people who apply early at for $40 tickets. Usually reserving their engagements to large cities, this is a rare opportunity to hear choral music at its best.

Mesquite Art Gallery-side-sunThe Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery welcomes artists from across the U.S. to its annual Lucky 13 Exhibition and Competition, Nov 2 – Jan 2. These artists know how to “downsize,” creating art 13”x13” or smaller for the competition. The free display is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 10a-4p, with a gala public reception on November 19, 4pm. The Gallery opens its beautiful Christmas Boutique of handmade gifts and art on November 23. “Shop Small” and avoid the crush of those big stores on Black Friday!

Mesquite wishes an abundance of blessings to all this Thanksgiving.

Linda Faas



The Independence Valley School

There are three one-room schools serving remote ranching communities in Elko County:

Ruby Valley, Mound Valley (Jiggs), and the Independence Valley School situated on Highway 256, a couple of miles from the Taylor Canyon Bar, and about seven miles from Tuscarora.

The following information about school history is on a poster in Society Hall in Tuscarora. It was written by Linda Bunch, who taught at the Independence Valley School for thirty years, from 1974-2004:

“It appears there was a school in Tuscarora from 1881 until 1962 … from early settlement times, there were several other schools for children at the various ranches on the north and east sides of Independence Valley. The last of the schools, located between the Van Norman and Wright Ranches, closed in the early 1950’s. The barn, necessary because many of the students rode horseback to school, was moved to the Jim Wright ranch. In 1962, the newly constructed cinderblock building received its first students in grades 1-8, now expanded to K-8. Enrollment has fluctuated over the past fifty years with a high of twenty-six students to a low of four students.”


The Students of the Independence Valley School, October 2015. (Thanks to Shammy Rodriguez, their teacher, for taking this marvelous photo especially for this Nevada Correspondence dispatch from Tuscarora)
The Students of the Independence Valley School, October 2015. (Thanks to Shammy Rodriguez, their teacher, for taking this marvelous photo especially for this Nevada Correspondence dispatch from Tuscarora)


The Independence Valley School is the heart of our community. This year, there are fifteen kids, children of ranchers or their employees and one ten-year old boy whose parents are artists living in Tuscarora. Their teacher, Shammy Rhoads Rodriguez, was raised on the nearby family ranch and went to the Independence Valley school for her first eight years. Two of her children are now attending the same school.

Independence Valley School - children singing 2When I called my friend Linda Bunch, to ask for permission to quote from her history of the schools, I asked her, “Linda, what’s important to say about the Independence Valley school?”

She didn’t hesitate. “This school is no ‘Little House on the Prairie’ throwback!” She went on to remind me that the children have IPads and Chromebooks: their teacher and the two aides are tech-savvy; there is extensive use of the internet for teaching resources.

When I posted a picture (the second one, here) on my Tuscarora Writers Retreat Facebook page of the children singing on “Grandparents and Honorary Grandparents Day,” a former teacher commented, “There is a uniqueness about having siblings, neighbors, friends in a multigrade level class.”

In some ways, it’s ideal to have modern technology and old-fashioned “Little House on the Prairie” values.

Nancy Harris McLelland


Virginia City

“A Day Out With Thomas” Thrills Kids in Virginia City

Thomas rests near the Virginia & Truckee Railroad depot in Virginia City before making the journey down the hill to Gold Hill and back.
Thomas rests near the Virginia & Truckee Railroad depot in Virginia City before making the journey down the hill to Gold Hill and back.

The antique Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Virginia City hosted the famous railway locomotive and television star, Thomas the Tank Engine, loved by millions of children around the world, on the weekends of October 23rd through 25th and October 30th through November 1st.

We remember Thomas from way back in the ’80s, when his British animated children’s TV series Thomas & Friends was first shown in the U.S. on the PBS series Shining Time Station.

Thomas still looks like a British train engine, but he now speaks with a distinctly American accent. And he does indeed speak — thanks to the lifelike animatronic face and mouth he was fitted with just last year.

Like the countless children who adore him, Thomas needs to have his face washed from time to time.
Like countless children who adore him, Thomas needs to have his face washed from time to time.

We watched him talking to a mesmerized group of small children and moving his eyes from side to side, as they squealed with utter delight.

Thomas’s visit to the Comstock saw every ticket on every one of the seven daily trips down to Gold Hill and back sold out, and the three passenger cars coupled to the celebrated tank engine were packed full of joyful kids — and adults.

Watch the Video “Virginia & Truckee Hosts Thomas” (Oct. 25, 2015).

Coming up on the V&T Railroad in November and December, the Candy Cane Express offers a unique old-fashioned Christmas Season experience for young and old alike. In cozy heated coaches, passengers will be treated to spiced hot cider, cocoa, delicious Christmas cookies, and, of course, candy canes. Sing-along Christmas carols and a reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s immortal poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas will further enhance the warm, friendly atmosphere and holiday mirth making.

Along the scenic route between the historic mining towns of Virginia City and Gold Hill, the train passes twice through the enchanting Candy Cane Tunnel, a sight that never fails to delight the children. And watch for wild horses along the way, too. Trips last over 50 minutes, with two trains per day departing the 1870 V&T Depot and museum at 166 F Street at 12 Noon & 2 PM, on three consecutive weekends — November 27, 28, 29 & December 5, 6, 12, 13. For tickets and more information visit the V&T Railroad’s Candy Cane Express webpage.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy


West Wendover

Casinos Killed Wendover Bicycle Taxi Says Owner

The owner of a bicycle taxi service threw in the towel this week and decided not to come into Wendover after all. “The casinos said they would charge me with trespassing,” said Salt City Cycle owner Louis Gasper. “It just wasn’t worth my time or my effort to fight them. We decided for now not to come out to Wendover and not throw good money after bad.”

Photo: Salt City Cycle Cab
Photo: Salt City Cycle Cab

Less than three weeks ago, Gasper expressed frustration but was still optimistic.

“We have had some problems getting the casinos on board,” Gasper said in Late September. “They have to get the okay from corporate, but we still plan to come.”

The major issue, Gasper said, was whether the pedicabs would be allowed to wait for fares on casino property or have to wait off property or to be called like a regular taxi.

“Whether or not the pedicabs can queue up in the casino parking lots or not is between the pedicab company and the casino,” said WWPD Lt. Don Lininger. “Most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have taxi queues, and I guess so do some hotels in Salt Lake, but we never had that them in Wendover.”

“The police have been super supportive and so has the city,” Gasper added. “We will come out to Wendover even if we have to pick up fares on the street.”

The West Wendover City council changed the local law to allow for and to regulate pedicabs at Gasper’s request. And according to the Salt Lake businessman the business plan is sound.

“The casinos spend $700,000 a year operating their shuttle service and the town also supports a taxi company.” Gasper explained. “We think Wendover could easily handle a pedicab service. We were out there a couple of months ago just to check out the terrain and see if we could handle the hills. It looks great.”

That optimism turned into bitterness last week when Gasper said he was threatened with being charged with trespassing if he ran his service to Wendover.

“I paid for a new insurance policy, cost me hundreds of dollars just to indemnify the casinos,” he added. “Then after all of that they turned around and said they weren’t interested. I had hoped that the city would come to my defense, but everyone is owned.’

With the pedicab service and a new liquor store set to begin construction, it was hoped that West Wendover may be coming out of a more than decade long decline in the number of small businesses.

While there were signals that West Wendover could report a significant gain in the number of local business for the first time since 2003 that increase will have to wait until next year.

Howard Copelan


Railfanning in Nevada

‘Tis the Season for a Train Ride

Polar Express illustration

Have you read Chris Van Allsburg’s book, The Polar Express? The award-winning book, published in 1985, tells the story of a young boy that is awakened on Christmas Eve by loud rumbling and lights flashing into his bedroom window. Stumbling outside, he peers through a cloud of steam and finds a large steam locomotive and train sitting in the street next to his house. As he gapes in surprise, a conductor invites him aboard, and
moments later, he is on his way to the North Pole.

Since its release, more than 12 million copies of The Polar Express have been sold. It appeared on the New York Times’ bestseller list and it was awarded the Caldecott Medal for children’s literature. It has also become a Christmas classic for many families.

In 2004, The Polar Express appeared in movie theaters as an animated production starring Tom Hanks. The film did quite well, grossing more than 300 million dollars worldwide. It also further cemented the story as a Christmas classic that is now loved by tens of thousands of people around the globe.

The spirit of The Polar Express is celebrated each Christmas season by excursion railroads in Nevada and holiday season rides aboard the trains have become a Christmas tradition for many families around “The Silver State.”

Carson City is a great place to embrace this holiday tradition with a number of railroads taking Children to see Santa every December.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum offers “Santa Train” rides on the museum grounds behind its classic No. 25 Baldwin steam locomotive. The kids will get to meet Santa. For 2015, rides are available Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20. Watch for announcements relating to the “Santa train.”

The V&T Railway offers its “Polar Express” train rides from its Eastgate Depot, a few miles east of Carson City, from Nov. 19 to Dec. 22 with rides mostly on Thursday through Sunday each week during the holiday season. No rides on Thanksgiving Day. Please see for more information. The hour-long
excursions take families to Santa’s village with refreshments served along the way and children receive a sleigh bell as a souvenir of the trip.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad offers its “Candy Cane Express” rides from its depot up the hill in nearby Virginia City. For 2015, the rides depart Nov. 27, 28, 29; Dec. 5, 6, 12, and13 and take families on a 50-minute ride through the “Candy Cane Tunnel. “ Along the way, everyone sips on hot cocoa or cider and munches on Christmas cookies. Please see for more information.

Over in Ely, the Nevada Northern Railway offers rides on its “Polar Express” trains from its depot on the east side of town. Rides start Nov. 21 and run through Dec. 29 with too many dates to list here. Please see for more information. The Polar Express story will be read aboard the train and hot cocoa and cookies will be served, and Santa will board the train to greet the kids.

Down in the Las Vegas area, the Nevada Southern Railway offers “Santa Train” excursions from its depot at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City. Dates are Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20. Please watch for announcements relating to the “Santa train.”

If a train ride to see Santa wasn’t part of your family’s holiday traditions, this holiday season is a good time to incorporate a ride into your Christmas festivities and start a new tradition. Depending where you live, the first rides are less than three weeks away.

If you can’t get to one of the train rides, you can pick up a copy of the book or rent the movie and start a new tradition that way. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

John Gaffney



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