Nevada Gram #13 – Wendover, Lake Mead, Pyramid Lake

The new edition of The Complete Nevada Traveler is still at the printer, where they are warming up the presses at last.

The Complete Nevada Traveler by David W. Toll

We are expecting that big truck to roll into Gold Hill with 4,000 copies in time for its official Nevada Day publication date. The cover of the new edition (the 12th or 13th — I’ve lost track — since the first one in 1976) features a photograph of the Santa Fe Saloon in Goldfield by Max Winthrop, Nevada’s leading blind photographer. Like our website, the book provides current travel information and historical background about all Nevada’s towns and cities. This edition will bring total copies in print to something over 85,000 (I’ve lost track of that too). If you’re in Carson City for the Nevada Day Parade, stop in at the Great Basin Gallery, Curry and 2nd Streets, to celebrate the new edition and lay eyes on some wonderful Nevada art.

We can now take your orders online for Personal copies and gifts or for Resale

Wendover has the welcome ramp out for horses, too.
Wendover has the welcome ramp out for horses, too.
In the meantime, The Nevada Travel Network has outdone itself, and I am beaming with pride and pleasure when I report that in September, while booking rooms by the dozens for human travelers, we also booked our first stalls for horses.

Within the daily torrent of e-mail requests for information came one from a traveler driving east from California to Wyoming (or was it Montana? — one of those eastern states, anyhow) wanting a place to board her horses overnight in Wendover. A flurry of e-mails across northeastern Nevada brought a response from the City of West Wendover with directions to the City Corral, where the equines passed a peaceful night and their chauffeur went out and had some fun.

The Smith family properties dominate the state line.
The Smith family properties dominate the state line.

And speaking of Wendover, it’s the hottest place in Nevada just now and we are not talking temperature here. Officially West Wendover, the little city on the Nevada side of the line has grown to be a bright spot in northeast Nevada and a major

contributor of jobs and tax revenues in Elko County. The local folks are so enthusiastic about the power of the ballot box that in between their elections they have recall elections. Wendover Utah, meanwhile, grew by providing low-rent housing for the low-pay employees at the Nevada-side casinos. The Nevada city had actually begun the process of absorbing its rickety neighbor, Wendover Utah, and bureaucrats on both sides were scratching their heads over how to redraw the state boundary line when the bankruptcy of the Smith family properties, the Silver Smith and State Line casino hotels, put everything else in the shade.

 The Silver Smith, as bright and welcoming as ever despite its fiscal problems.
The Silver Smith, as bright and welcoming as ever despite its fiscal problems.

Their troubles date back to a failed marketing strategy whereby these properties focused their marketing efforts on the national Fly-In Junket trade, using the old Air Force Base as its landing field. The blocks of rooms for these fly-in visitors meant their established Utah customers had to stay elsewhere — at the arch-rival Peppermill for example.

But the junketeers didn’t produce enough revenue and the flights were ended. When their Utah customers were slow to come back, the casinos were in trouble. In January they entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

 Wendover AFB, where Col. Tibbets and his crew trained for the A-Bomb drop on Hiroshima.
Wendover AFB, where Col. Tibbets and his crew trained for the A-Bomb drop on Hiroshima.

In May the Peppermill offered $50 million for the properties, but when the Federal Trade Commission announced a formal investigation the Peppermill offer was withdrawn. Up stepped Isle of Capri Resorts, a national casino operating company headquartered in Mississippi to make a new $30 million offer for the hotels. As all that was going on, and the city worried about the devastating effect that closing the properties would have, three new casino projects are in the works. One of them, The Keys, has already been approved for a Three Mile Hill location.

E-Mail of the Month

We went to Pyramid Lake in mid-August with our trucks and our kids and it was the highlight of our summer. I am enchanted and desperate to return. I don’t wanna tell anybody about it either (selfish)… I can’t believe such a place even exists within a day’s drive from the Bay Area. No one was there. I thought I was in Morocco. We swam. We found hot spots at the base of the pyramid. We hiked. We played on the beach. We canoed. Some people were there during the weekend, but cleared out by Sunday, so we were alone after that until we left.
I want to go in November. I guess the water will not be swim-able, and it could be pretty cold.
Thanks for your advice.

Overheard at Adele’s in Reno: “You can always tell a pioneer. He’s the one with the arrows in his back.”


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