By Robert Stoldal
(Updated July 27, 2022)
A series of more than twenty ‘real photo’ post cards of Las Vegas and Boulder Dam were produced by an unknown company in the late 1940’s.
The images and the printing of the post cards were clearly done by professionals. (Several errors, however, are found in the post card’s captions.)
The photographs show wide, day and night, views of streets and Las Vegas resorts, both downtown and on the Strip.
Based on the images and captions the post cards the photographs used in the series were taken sometime between the summer of 1947 and the late spring of 1948.
Based on the images, captions, and post marks the post cards went on sale no later than the late summer early fall of 1948.
From its beginning as the Boulder Canyon Dam Project, the name of the dam changed several times. The dam first envisaged to be built in Boulder Canyon was actually built in Black Canyon.
In 1931 it was changed from Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam.
In 1933, during the administration of President F.D. Roosevelt, the name was changed back to Boulder Dam and was the name used when F.D.R. dedicated the dam on September 30, 1935.
On April 30, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a Congressionally approved Resolution changing the name of the dam changed back to Hoover.
The “X” post cards all use the “Boulder Dam” as the name was being changed by Congress.
The photographer nor the company that printed the post cards or the publisher/distributor have been identified.
The Mystery “X” Company
The company’s logo is found following the “X” and the number of the card. The logo is an upper-case PV, with either a lower-case e, or c, with an o as part of the top part of the c, meaning co. Did the “PV” company produce the “X” series post cards? (and why use an “x” in front of the number on the post card? )
Does PV mean postcard view? Was there a postcard company in the late 1940’s, with the name Post Card Views?
Mistakes and other questions indicate the post cards were not produced either by a Las Vegas company or by somebody who didn’t pay attention.
- While there are several post cards of Fremont Street in the series. The word “Fremont” is not in the captions, instead, the street is referred to as “the Main street.” Fremont Street, running east and west, was the main (lower case “m” business street in Las Vegas in the 1940’s. It was connected at the west end to Main Street which ran north and south.
- Card 196 states in the caption that the Golden Nugget is “One of the Oldest Gambling Casinos in Las Vegas” when in fact it was one of the newest gambling clubs. It opened in 1946. The caption writer apparently saw the date 1905 the Nugget sign and took it as fact that that was the actual date the gambling club opened.
- The caption on card 210 states the “Little Church of the West” located on the “grounds” of the El Rancho Vegas when in fact it was built and opened on the grounds of the Last Frontier Hotel in 1943.
- On post card 212 of the “Eldorado Club” the caption incorrectly spells the name “El Dorado.”
- Post card 206 is captioned “New Shops along the Main Street – Las Vegas Nev.-” This is a view looking west on Fremont Street, from between Second and Third Streets. What are the “new shops” referred to in the caption? On the left (south) side are two large signs of the “Save-Right Drug Stores” that are visible. The fact that the publishers of this set of post cards selected the “Save-Rite” Drug store to highlight on the post card of “new” shops may provide a clue as to who published the post cards. The Photographer is on the right/north side of Fremont with the camera pointed southwest. The “Save-Rite” building and the drug store’s two large signs are clearly the dominant visible “shop” element on the post card. Did the photographer take this photograph because the drug store was the one that ordered the post cards, or was it just a coincidence?
This “Save-Rite” drug store, at 215 Fremont, opened on November 18, 1946. Less than two years later, it was purchased by the “Pay Less” corporation.”
The known views in the twenty-three post cards, feature several images of the Flamingo Hotel, downtown Las Vegas with the Eldorado Club and the Golden Nugget highlighted.
In addition, there are as many as 9 views of the dam and Lake Mead. Seven are known, with two unknown views within the dam series
Six views are unknown, with two likely of the dam/lake numbers. That leaves only four slots for the Hotel El Rancho, the Last Frontier Hotel-Casino.
It is not likely, but possible, that a post card of the Thunderbird Hotel-Casino is included in this series as the resort opened on September 2, 1948.
The only known “El Rancho Vegas” post card in the series is 210, and the title mistakenly places the “Little Church of the West” on “the grounds of the El Rancho Vegas” instead of the Last Frontier. Not a mistake a Las Vegas-based post card company would likely make.
Caption Fonts – The fonts are a neat handwritten style and with one exception, the captions are white, X 204 is printed with black ink.
Post marks and dates
- Las Vegas, September 6, 1948.
- Las Vegas, October 4, 1948.
- Las Vegas, October 12, 1948.
- Las Vegas, July 24, 1949.
- Las Vegas, September 18, 1949
- Las Vegas, August 8, 1950.
“X” post card Checklist
X 190 “Main St. of Las Vegas Nev.- Looking Toward the R. R. Station-“
The photographer pointed his camera northwest from the southern side of the intersection of Second and Fremont.
In the distant background is the Union Pacific depot. The photograph highlights the north side of Fremont Street between First and Second Street.
In the center-right is the Boulder Club and on the east side of the Eldorado Club. The Eldorado is promoting the fact that it is “Cooled by Refrigeration.”
The El Dorado Club opened in July of 1947.
In the upper right-hand corner is the traffic lights controlling traffic and Second and Fremont.
Also visible are the Club Savoy, and Mike’s Liquor store.
X 191 ?
X 192 “The Luxurious Swimming Pool The Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas Nev.” Behind the diving board on the left side of the post card is a man that looks like entertainer Spike Jones? Jones appeared at the Flamingo in June of 1948.
X 193 “The Hotel Flamingo- Las Vegas Nev.-“
The image shows the back, the east side, of the Flamingo Hotel
X 194 “The Beautiful Flamingo Casino- Las Vegas- Nev”
This is a vertical view of the outside of the Hotel Flamingo showing the sign and exterior shrubbery.
X 195 “The Modern Railway Station- Las Vegas, Nev.-“
The image shows the south side of the Union Pacific depot. The camera is looking northeast.
One of the two cars in the foreground has a desert water bag hooked onto the rear-view mirror.
This “modern” railway depot opened in 1940.
X 196 “One of the Oldest Gambling Casinos in Las Vegas Nev.’
The front corner of the Golden Nugget with a Lucky Cab with an open door is seen on the left side.
The title of the post card is in error as it described the Golden Nugget as “one of the oldest gambling casinos in Las Vegas.”
Despite the sign on the front that says, “Golden Nugget 1905,” the Nugget was not built and did not open until 1946.
X 197 ?
X 198 “Memorial at Edge of Boulder Dam-“
X 199 “Looking Across the Dam-
Photograph taken from the Nevada side looking towards the Arizona Side-“
X 200 “Hugh Face of the Boulder Dam-“
The photograph was taken near noon as the sun is almost directly overhead, with no shadow being cast on the face of the dam.
X 201 Dam or Lake Mead view ?
X 202 “Lake Mead- West Shore”
X 203 Dam or lake Mead view?
X 204 “Lake Mead and Boulder Dam-
From the Arizona Side of the River-“
Two boats on what could be considered the Arizona side of the dam. One boat has a large tent on it, possibly a research vessel. The other boat has a rope or hose, or wire training behind.
X 205 ?
X 206 “New Shops along the Main Street – Las Vegas Nev.-”
This is a view looking west on Fremont Street, from between Second and Third Streets. Yes, Fremont Street was the “main street.” What are the “new shops” referred to in the caption? The “Save-Rite” drug store?
X 207 “The Main Street of Las Vegas Nev.-“
This is a view looking west on Fremont Street, from between 5th and 6th streets.
X 208 ?
X 209 “Post Office and Court House – Las Vegas Nev.-“
Image of the front of the building taken from Third Street looking north.
X 210 “Little Church of the West – On the Grounds of the El Rancho Vegas – Las Vegas Nev.- “
The “Little Church of the West” was built and opened on the grounds of the Last Frontier Hotel in 1943.
X 211 “Night Scene Showing the Famous Pioneer Club Sign-
And Pioneer Club- Las Vegas Nev.-“
x212 “El Dorado Club at Night – Las Vegas, Nev. – ”
Eldorado is mispelled El Dorado