The Covered Wagon, Nevada’s Epic 1924 Movie to receive Special Treatment

     In at least a tie, if not number one on the list of the top ten silent films connected to Nevada is “The Covered Wagon.”  It was filmed in 1923 and released in 1924.

This is an epic film.  A true EPIC film!    Nevada filming locations in 1923 include Baker, Nevada, parts of what is now the Great Basin National Park,  and with Skull and Snake Valleys.

Today’s news, the fact “The Covered Wagon” will be coming out in three weeks, on a special edition, Blu-ray with added attractions,,  tops our movie news this week.

The Fox film, (Before it became 20th Century Fox) was Jesse Lasky, who approved a $500,000 budget.  Big bucks in 1923.  By the time all the production costs were added up, it was a $750,000 movie.  The director, James Cruze, was raised by his Mormon parents in Ogden, Utah.

The star is Alan Hale.  No, not Gilligan’s Island Alan Hale.  This was his dad.   The female star was Lois Wilson.  A long career, more than 150 films including the silent film version of the Great Gatsby.

Paramount Studios, “3,000 actors spent three months” in the Utah and Nevada deserts.” Again from the studio’s “Facts about The Covered Wagon,” “One-tenth of all the blanket Indians in the United State appear.”  They are Arapahoes, Bannocks, Shoshones, and Crows.”

“Nine square miles of waste prairie were burned.  The scenes in which the 500 wagons ford the mile-wide rushing torrent were made at great risk.” (A hell of a lot more wagon’s then Ward Bond ever had.)

Promotional Post card issued by Paramount Studios. (CH collection)


That is studio publicity at work.  But, having viewed the VHS copy.  There are thousands of people and hundreds of wagon.   As far as buffaloes the studio said they had 500 in the film.   Remember, this was 1923, no “Iron Man” parts one or two digital affects.  But seems to be a few of those buffaloes, well check it out for yourself.

This is a classic film, shot in Nevada and Utah.  It is an epic film, a box office hit, and led to other epic silent films in the 1920’s before “Iron Horse,” and “Ben-Hur.”

The disc will go on sale on February 20, and the news release from Kino Lorber said the special edition release will also contain,

  • -Audio commentary by Film Historian Toby Roan
  • -Booklet essay by film scholar Matt Hauske
  • -The Pie-Covered Wagon: a 1932 one-reel spoof starring Shirley Temple
  • -Wurlitzer organ score by Gaylord Carter
  • -Reversible Blu-ray Art

When the movie was released in the United States and England, theatre goers were asked to fill out post cards and send them to friends.



Coming up in February a top ten list of Nevada related silent movies.   With 1924 “The Covered Wagon” and John Fords, 1925 “Iron Horse” competing for the top honors.   The recently uncovered   southern Nevada production of a Laurel and Hardy film, yes, Laurel and Hardy may also vie for a top spot.  Semi spoiler alert L and H are the stars of this film, but before the there was a Laurel and Hardy handshake to become a team.  Filmed near Moapa.  Surprised me too.





Las Vegas Centennial Commission to meet Monday vote on major grant to preserve the history of architect and to create a process to fund long form video projects.

Request for funds to preserve work of mid-century Las Vegas architect, and advance plans for grants of documentaries of Las Vegas.

Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial aka the Las Vegas Centennial Commission meets today/Monday,   January 29, 2018.

With its mission, “To preserve and celebrate the history of the people and the history of the City of Las Vegas” the commission review and vote on a request for funds to continue the preservation and public access to the work of the late Hugh E. Taylor

The public meeting, 2 p.m. at Las Vegas City Hall in the city clerk’s conference room on the section floor, the commission will review and take application from Heidi Swank of the Nevada Preservation Foundation for $98,600 for Phase II of the Hugh E. Taylor architect archives project.

Also on the agenda a report and possible action regarding the 2018 Helldorado celebration.  We all remember the Helldorado parades and carnivals started in 1935.

The staff has also been working on a new online film grant application for video projects.  The new grant application is expected to provide a better focus on future   grants.    The commission at its previous public meeting has indicated it plans to be more proactive providing topics for the production of long form video projects.

Link to agenda.

The commission meets quarterly to provide funds to encourage preservation of historic resources in City.

From the preservation and restoration of the 1923 Westside School, to a grant to UNLV to the digitations of the earliest Las Vegas newspapers, which will be on line soon, the commission has funded more than 21-million-dollars in grants focused on education and enhancement of historic in the City of Las Vegas.




Patty Hearst in Las Vegas

CNN’s ongoing promotion of its upcoming long form video special “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” set off a flashback to November 5, 1975.

It was on that day the UNLV newspaper “The Yell,” carried a front page story “Patty Hearst in Las Vegas.”   That was more than four decades ago, Captain History was working with Dave Kelly, the newspaper’s Editor. (see p.s.) The Confederate Soldier and the word “Rebel” were removed the masthead.

If you would like to read the story as well as a visit by Dick Gregory at UNLV, here are a couple of links.

Gregory’s appearance and comment’s on Hearst  was also front page news.   Gregory, like his contemporaries Lenny Bruce, and Mort Sahl, was labled a comedian.  All three were satirist, all three were funny,  but their legacy was shining a spotlight on the opportunities for improvement in society.  ( After writing that, an image of all three of them popped up  throwing a tomato at me.)

Here are the links to The YELL,

Here is one of many obit clips on Gregory.

CNN’s broadcast “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” premieres on February 11 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT .  Nine days before Hearst’s 65th birthday.

P.S.   When Dave Kelly moved from the profession of journalism to the world of computer’s, it was Journalism loss.  His outstanding coverage of the Baneberry accident and his work with UPI stands out.

The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930



 Even with smart phones and their ability to snap a photo and send it back home,  post cards are still found in gift stores along Fremont Street and the Las Vegas Strip.

The messages haven’t changed; “Look where I am” and “wish you were here.”

For decades post cards were king.  In the golden age of post cards, Billions, yes Billions were sold each year in the United States.

The earliest form of Twitter, as you could only write so many words on the back of the post card.

In the beginning, the U.S. Post Office forbid writing on the back of the post car; except the address.

So you squeezed your message, a few words around the edges of the front of the card.

Then in 1902 Great Britain allowed its citizens to write a message on the left side of the back of the post card.

Five years later the U.S. Post Office made the change.

For Las Vegas, post cards continues record to development and changes  of the community, from a railroad stop and farms to the growing and constantly changing hospitality industry.

In many cases, the early days, pre Hoover Dam era, post cards are often the only visual history of the development of southern Nevada that has survived.

In this the first of several stories on post cards and the history of southern Nevada, we focus on one giant post card company, Curt Teich of Chicago.

Not the first to provide a visual glimpse of Las Vegas to the outside world, but for several decades Teich dominated the market place.

Continue reading “The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930”

A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.

In the next three weeks the U.S. Post Office is going to honor a former employee of Bugsy Siegel  with a forever stamp, and the U.S. Mint is going to honor a former Henderson bar owner with a dollar coin.

Continue reading “A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.”

New Chair, Funds for historic Las Vegas High School and Motor Courts Studies approved

The City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission (H.P.C.) met today, January 24, and elected a new chair and vice chair.

By unanimous vote the commission elected Claytee White, Director of the Oral History Research Center for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada, as the new chair.

More details on White’s background can be found here – .


The commission also approved a budget that included funds, up to $25, 000, to update the more than 50 year old Las Vegas High School Federal and Las Vegas Register of Historic Places.

1930 Photograph of high school shortly after it opened.

Rare 1940’s Las Vegas High School decal.

In addition the board also approved up to $35,000 to study historic motor courts (motels) of Las Vegas in downtown Las Vegas as well as along Las Vegas Boulevard within the city limits.

The two studies will be completed this year.  More details on the timing of the two studies will be presented at the next meeting of the H.P.C.

1955 Artist Rendering of the Moulin Rouge Hotel-Casino 

sold as post card in the resorts gift shop.

The commission also drafted a letter that will be sent to any new owners of the site where the historic Moulin Rouge Hotel-Casino stood.  The final version of the letter will be reviewed and acted on at the February meeting of the H.P.C.

The letter will address the “incredible History associated with the site,” and the commission’s willingness to assist in making sure there is  significant, and visible recognition of the Moulin Rouge on the site, located on 840 West Bonanza Road.

Original 1955 advertisement featuring Joe Louis, who was given a percentage of the resort to act as the host.

The H.P.C. meets on the last Wednesday of each month at noon in the City Clerk’s conference room on the second floor of the Las Vegas City Hall.

At today’s meeting the commission also elected Robert Stoldal, aka Captain History, as Vice Chair.

The Judds! Which one took the photograph of the Reno Fire?

   Which Judd is the Judd in “Judd Photo?”   For a short period of time, possibly less than thirty six months, a “Judd” was in the post card business.  He took photographs and turned them into ‘real photo’ post cards, including several of the  famous 1909 Reno fire photographs.  With supporting images, we hope to answer the Judd question.

Continue reading “The Judds! Which one took the photograph of the Reno Fire?”

I bumped into Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Las Vegas.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman!    Finding her in Las Vegas was a fortunte accident.  Finding Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her The Yellow Wallpaper…. well, you need to read it for yourself.  The article below covers my search for the details of C.P.G’s visit to the small desert community of Las Vegas.

Continue reading “I bumped into Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Las Vegas.”

“When you feel that the people around you are taking too much care of your private business, move to Nevada. It’s freedom’s last stand in America.”

Yep,  that was Will Rogers who call Nevada “freedom’s last stand in America.”

Not sure Will was talking about gambling, or marijuana,  but he did know there was something special about Nevada.

Despite the fact the airplane he was flying in flipped on its back when landing in Las Vegas, he liked the “dandy little city.”

And he did one of his last films at Lake Tahoe and Reno and he almost bought a Nevada ranch.  Will Rogers was unique and helped people though the Great Depression.   In this article we explore his connection to Nevada.

Continue reading ““When you feel that the people around you are taking too much care of your private business, move to Nevada. It’s freedom’s last stand in America.””