Nevada Post Cards 1907 to 1911 by H. G. Zimmerman & Company

Nevada Post Cards

Published by

H. G. Zimmerman

by Robert Stoldal
(Updated January 23, 2019)

The Chicago, Illinois based “H.G. Zimmerman & Company,” printed postcard views of at least seven Nevada communities between 1907 and 1911.

The Nevada towns include Blair, Ely, Goldfield, Hawthorne, Imlay, and Sparks.  The seventh Nevada town is Tonopah, however, the two cards with Tonopah images are mistitled “Goldfield.”

There are twenty-four different known Zimmerman post cards of Nevada. It is likely there are between five and 10 more.

Zimmerman’s Nevada views were printed in color and black and white but no view was printed both ways.

The Nevada post cards are smaller than the standard size at the time, of 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches. Most of the Zimmerman’s post cards are only 5 ¼ by 3¼.

Alpha-numeric Code on Zimmerman Post Cards

Most Nevada Zimmerman post cards have an alpha-numeric code printed on the card. For example, “B1669A7.”

So far this code has been found the face of the post card.

The first alpha could represent the year, “A” meaning 1907, “B” 1908 etc.

The first four numbers may represent the overall series topic or location, while the last three characters represent the sequence within the series.

Possible series sequence. For example in the Goldfield series.
The first card is A921A10, the second card is A921B10, the third card is A921C10 and so forth.

Or, the code has nothing to do with the location and instead it is either a printing or order code, or both or something else.

A later Zimmerman card showing the hotel at Imlay, Nevada does not have a printed code.  The earliest known postmark on this post card is March, 1911.  Based on order and shipping times, it is likely the Imlay Hotel post card was first order late in 1910 or early 1911.

In addition not have an alphanumeric code, the size of this postcard matched the standard size of post cards being issued at the time by other publishers.

Unique Nevada views on Zimmerman Post Cards

The images on most of the Zimmerman post cards of Nevada provide views of well covered topics.  There are two Nevada locations, where “side pocket” salesmen were able to make a sale for Zimmerman by pasted by other post card publishers.

Hawthorne

It is likely Zimmerman printed a series of color views of Hawthorne Nevada in 1908-1909.

Early printed color post cards of Hawthorne, located on the southern tip of Walker Lake in west central Nevada, are scarce.

While the community was a stop on the way to the boom towns of Tonopah and Goldfield, apparently few postcard salesmen got off the train.

One agent made the stop and made a sale.

The Hawthorne series and we should put the word “series” in quotes. So far only one post card, B2377B2 titled “E Street, Hawthorne, Nev.” has been uncovered. But, the alphanumeric code indicates there is a B2377B1, and likely a B2377B3, and possibly more.

Imlay

An unnumbered Zimmerman postcard titled “Hotel and Depot, Imlay, Nev.” is the only known printed color post card of the Southern Pacific Railroad Hotel.

The hotel and depot are long gone. The small community of Imlay is located 34 miles west of Winnemucca and 40 miles east of Lovelock just off Interstate 80.

Sparks

One Zimmerman post card, B155A1, titled “Harriman Avenue, Sparks, Nev.” is known to exist.

Two other unique Nevada post cards from Zimmerman.
Both are Errors

The titles of two of the post cards, A921B10 and A921C10, showing a houses made of bottles and one made of barrels, places the structures in Goldfield, when in fact the homes were built in Tonopah.

How many Zimmerman post card with Nevada views were printed.

The price and the minimum number in an order would change during the six plus years Zimmerman was printing post cards.

The price would of course also depend on the type of post card Zimmerman was selling or the retailer wanted.

One post card with a Chicago postmark April 23, 1910 showing the Zimmerman building offered; “This is a sample of our Zimochrome cards which we make to order from local photographs. Price in quantities of 500 of a subject $6.50; in quantities of 1,000 of a subject $7.50. Time required for delivery is three weeks.”

Another Zimmerman postcards, number 9827B2E says “This is a sample of the cards which we make to order from local photographs in hand colored work. Price in quantities of 500 of each subject, $6.50; in quantities of 1,000 of each subject, $9.00. Time required for deliver 3 weeks.

Nevada Orders

Based on the number of publishers already providing post cards to central Nevada boom towns, it is likely the Nevada retailers ordered 500, rather than 1000 Zimmerman view cards.

Based on different backs it is also likely Zimmerman received a second order for a selected number of the Goldfield black and white post cards.

Retailers, Photographers. Publishers?

It is possible that Zimmerman was connected with the Allen Photo Company of Goldfield, and the Polin Brothers, also of Goldfield.  The two firms could have ordered the post cards, or simply supplied Zimmerman with the images on the post cards.

Allen Photo Company

Two Zimmerman post cards have views connected with the “Allen Photo Company” of Goldfield, Nevada.

The company was owned and operated by photographer Arthur Allen. He arrived in Goldfield in 1904 and took over the operation of the boom camps first photographer, I. W. Booth.

The image on Zimmerman post card A921B10 titled “House made of 10,000 Beer Bottles, Goldfield, Nev.” was also released by Allen with the title “Made of 10,000 Beer Bottles, Goldfield, Nevada.”

The house was built by William F. Peck in late summer, early fall of 1903. In December of 1903 a story was sent out to newspapers around the country.

On January 2, 1904 The Times-Democrat in Lima, Ohio published the story with the photograph of the two children in front of the house that appears on the Allen and Zimmerman post cards.

The photograph taken by pioneer photographer Booth shows Peck’s two children, Wesley three years old and Mary seven years old standing in front of the building.

A second Allen connected image, Zimmerman A921C10 “House Made of Barrels, Goldfield, Nev.” was also released by Allen’s company titled “House Made of Barrels, Goldfield, Nevada.”

Beyond those two images, no other relationship has been established between Allen and Zimmerman.

E. H. Mitchell

At the time Zimmerman entered the Nevada post card arena, major publishers and distributors,  from E. H. Mitchell to the Newman Post Card company, were already on the scene.

Several of the images found on a Zimmerman printed cards are also found on post cards published by other including Mitchell. For example;
1. A921D10 “Mohawk Mines, Goldfield, Nev.” Released by Mitchell divided back, in color, “808 Mohawk Mine, Goldfield, Nevada.”
2. A921E10 “General View of Goldfield, Nev.” Released by Mitchell, divided back, in color, 807 “General View of Goldfield, Nevada.”

Polin Bros.

The Polin Brothers, Harry and Louis, operated newsstands and soda foundations in several western towns including Goldfield and Tonopah.

Their hand stamped credit line is found on the back of “A921J10 High Grade Ore for Deposit in Safety Vaults, Goldfield, Nevada.”

Beyond the hand stamp, and the fact that the Polin’s ordered from different post card publishers in small quantities, no other relationship has been established between brothers and Zimmerman.

Backs

There are three types of known Zimmerman backs on Nevada post cards.

One thing that is common to all the backs is the Zimmerman logo: a man carrying a package with the letters “ZIM.”

All the same logo, just different colors? Or Hat vs Cap? Front foot up, front foot down?

1. (ZB1) Black ZIM man left hand corner of back. With credit line that reads “H.
G. Z. & Co.” on the upper left edge of the back of the card.
2. Black ZIM. Moved up about 25% on the bottom left side and move 5/16
of an inch towards the right.
3. Green ZIM man moved to the top left corner. No credit line right
4. Brown ZIM bottom left corner with credit line “Published by H G.
Zimmerman & Co.” “T” divided back is differ Appears to be an open
book design on the top of the vertical line on the back.

With the exception of the ZIM post card with the Imlay Hotel  all of the rest of the Nevada postcards have a message on the left side that read;
“This side may have a message written upon it for
POSTAGE IN THE UNITED STATE AND EUROPE.
The right hand side must be reserved for stamp
And address.”
1907 marks the year the U.S. Post Office allowed messages as well as the address on the backs of post cards. Up until that time senders had to write their message around the edges of the face of the post card.
There are many different backs on Zimmerman post cards, divided and undivided, including different colors, the following  four back types are found on the known post cards with Nevada views.

ZB1 no Zimmerman credit line

-0-

ZB2, Published by “H. G. Z. & Co.” credit line

-0-

 

ZB3, No Zimmerman credit line.

-0-

 

ZB4, “Published by H. G. Zimmerman & Co. Chicago” credit line

-0-

Known Chronology of “H.G. Zimmerman & Co.”

 

From leather, to silk to two card panoramas, from comic to holiday, to view cards from across the United States, “H.G. Zimmerman & Co.” was a full service post card creator between late 1906 and early 1912.

Based in Chicago, Illinois, late in 1906 or early in 1907 Zimmerman opened a west coast office in San Francisco.

The June 30, 1907 San Francisco City Directory lists “Zimmerman H. G. & Co, pubrs souvenir post crds, 915 Van Ness av, S.G., tel Franklin 2688.”

 

 

 

 

 

Based on a review of post cards with images of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Zimmerman issued a series in black and white, with undivided backs and then the same views in color with divided backs.

At one point, a relative, Charles Zimmerman, took over the San Francisco office, but by November of 1909 the west coast operation was closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of 1907, Zimmerman’s operation was located in a two story building named “THE HOUSE THAT ZIM BUILT.”


On November 15, 1907 the public was informed “the new two story brick building at 3021-3023 Michigan Avenue has been leased” to “H. G. Zimmerman & Co.”

The lease ran until March of 1910 at a total rental cost of $8,500. Zimmerman is still at this address as late as April 1912.

Based on classified newspaper advertisement Zimmerman placed in newspapers around the country it is clear that much of his business was based on the work of “side pocket” aka “vest pocket” salesmen.     (Anaconda Montana Standard, 2-21-1909)

Then in the spring of 1911 Zimmerman took another approach to sell his post cards.

With the exception of a law suit over stock in his post card company, Zimmerman and his publishing company disappears from sight. At about the same time, an H.G. Zimmerman appears as an automotive accessory salesman. This H.G. Zimmerman quickly moves up the ladder and becomes a major player with the General Motors Corporation. The same H.G. Zimmerman? Likely, but more information is needed on the closure of “The House that Zim Built” on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

“H. G. Zimmerman & Company” becomes incorporated public publishing, manufacturing and merchandise business.

In June of 1910, the Zimmerman post card company was incorporated as a “publishing, manufacturing and merchandise business.”
With capital stock of $250,000.
The company’s incorporators were Charles Center Case Jr., James V. Hickey and Frederick Second.”
Zimmerman was listed as President and “A. Hansen” as Secretary. Zimmerman listed his home address as 3743 Indianan Avenue, not far from his office.

American Post Card Association

In May of 1908, Zimmerman was named vice president of the newly formed American Post Card Association.
According to the association’s press release the goal of the associations was “eliminating many present evils” in the post card trade “with the hope that the movement will become national for the protection of the industry as a whole.”

A central issue, at the time, was the imposition of tariffs on imported post cards. The U.S. Congress was holding hearings on the issue in 1908.
For Zimmerman and has American Post Card Association other important issues included “the matter of censorship of post cards” and the establishment of “some standard by which manufacturers can guarantee cards to be immune from prosecution.”

Also of concern to the newly formed post card association credit lines on post card and the challenges trying to “control salesmen.”

For a variety reasons the post card industry fell on hard times; over stock, prices dropped, too many publishers and the public’s slipping interest.

Late in November of 1911 Zimmerman placed an classified advertisement in a Chicago began looking for twenty “girls’ for “counting post cards.”

Zimmerman Stock Subject of Law Suit

In 1912 stock in the Zimmerman post card company was the subject of a suit involving trading stock in his post card company for land. According to the suit Zimmerman said his company was “importing from foreign countries and manufacturing post cards, which it was selling in great quantities and at enormous profit.”

The response to the suits, Zimmerman had “not foreseen the failure of the post card and mail order concerns.”
It appears the suits were settled out of court.

It was time for Zimmerman to change trades. It is possible he became a representative for automotive products. First selling carburetors.

Zimmerman shifts from cards to cars?

Then he worked for the “foreign sales department of the Studebaker Corporation then he moved over to the Dodge Brothers automotive team where he was in charge of advertising.

He next stop was General Motors where he was put in charge of the company’s Australian division. And in early august, 1922, Zimmerman is off to Copenhagen where he as G.M.’s representative.

With his move to Denmark, Zimmerman’s role as a post card publisher was now a decade behind and would not be in his future.

Are Zimmerman the post card publisher and Zimmerman the world traveler for General Motors the same person?

And whatever happened to the American Post Card Association?

More work needs to be done.

Zimmerman Nevada
Post card Checklist

Unless listed as color, all the post cards in the check list are black and white.

Imlay

No # “Hotel and Depot, Imlay, Nev.” (color) ZB4.

Goldfield

A921A10 “Nixon Block, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1 & ZB2.

A921B10 “House made of 10,000 Beer Bottles, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1 & ZB2.
• This bottle house was in Tonopah, not Goldfield.
• This image was printed by Zimmerman with two different backs.
• Same error in the title; “Made of 10,000 Beer, Bottles, Goldfield, Nevada.”

A921C10 “House Made of Barrels, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1 & ZB2.
• This barrel house was in Tonopah, not Goldfield.
• Same error in the title; “House Made of Barrels, Goldfield, Nevada.”    Allen with the title “Made of 10,000 Beer Bottles, Goldfield, Nevada.”

A921D10 “Mohawk Mines, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1 & ZB2.
• This view was first released by Edward H. Mitchell, with an undivided back in 1906, as post card number 808 titled, “MOHAWK MINES, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA.”  A popular post card, Mitchell printed a version with a divided back.
• This view was released with two different ZIM backs.

A921E10 “General View of Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1.
• This view was also released by Edward H. Mitchell, as card number 807 titled “GENERAL VIEW OF GOLDFIELD, NEVADA”. The Mitchell card was released first with an undivided back, and later re-released with a divided back.

A921F10 “Labor Day, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1.

A921G10 “Freighting by Team Before Advent of Railway, Goldfield,
Nevada.” ZB1.                                                                                                                                  – Note, Nevada spelled out.  Only one in this series no abbreviated.

A921H10 “Combination Mine and Mill, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1.

A921I10  “Ore Dump, Combination Mine, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1.

A921-I-10 “Ore Dump, Combination Mine, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB2.
• A second version of a ZIM back.
• Also the alphanumeric on this card has dashes. Likely to separate the letter “I” and the ones.

A921J10  “High Grade Ore for Deposit in Safety Vaults, Goldfield, Nev.” ZB1
-The hand stamped, in purple, “POLIN BROS., GOLDFIELD, NEVADA” is found on the back, left edge of some ZIM post cards with this title.

A921K10      ?

Sparks, Nevada

B155A1 “Harriman Avenue, Sparks, Nev.” (ZB1)

B155A2 ?

Blair

B601A1 “Pittsburg-Silver Peak Gold Mining Co.’s 100-Stamp Mill, Nev.” ZB4.

B601A2 ?

B1394A1 “Latest Extinct Volcano in America, Blair, Nev.” (color) ZB4.

B1394A2 ?

Ely, Nevada

-Note, all Ely post cards have a type ZB4 back.

B1669A7 “Train of Copper Ore, Ely, Nev.”

B1669B7 “Interior of Power House, Ely, Nev.”

B1669C7 “Squaw Race in Ely, Nev.”

B1669D7 “Veteran Shaft, Ely, Nev.” (color)

B1669E7 “Steam Shovel at Work, Ely, Nev.” (color)

B1669F7 “Alpha Shaft, Ely, Nev.” (color)

B1669G7 “Copper Flat, Ely, Nev.” (color)

B1669H7 ?

 

B1693A2 “Depot, East Ely, Nev.” (color)

B1693B2 “Aultman Street, Nev.” (color)

B1693C2 ?

Hawthorne

B2377A2 ?

B2377B2 “E Street, Hawthorne, Nev.” (color) ZB4.

B2377C2 ?

Known Post Marks on ZIM Nevada post cards

While no 1907 post marks have been seen, it is believed that both the order and the shipment of the Nevada Zimmerman post cards took place in late 1907.

A921
Goldfield February 20, 1908
Goldfield, April 12, 1908
May 8, 1908 hand written
Goldfield, July 30, 1908
Goldfield September 15, 1908
Goldfield, November 9, 1908
Goldfield, December 25, 1908
Goldfield July 17, 1909
Goldfield August 3, 1909
Tonopah RPO Feb 27, 1910
Goldfield, August 31, 1910 type 2 back
Goldfield November 29, 1910

B155
Sparks March 23, 1908
Sparks December 21, 1908

B601
Reno & Goldfield RPO June 19, 1908

B1394                                                                                                                                                  Blair, July 3, 1909

B1669
Ely, March 29, 1909
Shafter April 28, 1909
Ely, May 8, 1909
Ruth, May 10, 1909
Ruth, May 20, 1909
Kimberly May 22, 1909
Ruth, May 27, 1909
Shafter June 2, 1909
Hawthorne, Sept 1, 1909
East Ely, Dec. 10, 1909
East Ely, December 12, 1909
East Ely, December 14, 1909
East Ely, December 19, 1909
East Ely, December 25, 1910
Cobre & Ely March 18, 1911 RPO
Imlay, March 20, 1911
Ely, June 17, 1911

1693
RPO Cobre & Ely, Mar 18, 1911

No number
Imlay, March 20, 1911                                                                                                       Imlay October 25, 1912.                                                                                                   Imlay December 12, 1912

 

Post Cards of Southern Nevada 1910 by Bobbe Lithographic Company of New York

 

Bobbe Lithographic Company,

Post Cards of Southern Nevada.

“Three trains is a Crowd”

Delayed in Caliente, Nevada on September 3, 1915, by a train wreck, William spent time at John Shier’s Drug Store just up the street from the train depot.

He bought several post cards of Caliente published by Shier.

On one card William wrote a friend in Massachusetts “held here on account of a washout.”   He dropped his post card at the Caliente Post Office.

William then headed back to the depot to get a status report on his train which was headed to California.

He picked up additional information on the wreck which occurred about half way between Caliente and Las Vegas.

William told Sona “we are tied up here today. We have been here since two o‘clock last night and this is in the afternoon.  The train ahead of us went into the ditch.  We don’t known when we will go.  But I suppose tonight three trains here so you know it’s a crowd.”

William, the pessimist, dated his post card 9-4-15.   He deposited his post card at the Caliente railroad depot.   Soon after he mailed his card the train left the station heading to Los Angeles.   William’s post card is postmarked Ogden & Los Angles R.P.O. TR 2 Sept. 3, 1915.

The first post card, the one he dropped off at the post office, did not make it on the train until the next day.  It is postmarked “Caliente, Nev. Sep 4, 1915.”

When the delayed trains, heading south, made it to the spot of the wreckage, a newspaper report said “the passengers beheld a locomotive almost buried in the sand.  It had left the track when it hit the washout, but the passenger train behind it was not wrecked.”[i]

While the backs of the post cards William in Caliente bought are the same used by the Bobbe Litho Company of New York, there is no credit line on the back other than “Pub. by John Shier –K. 1318.”

In addition to the design of the back, including the font used for the words Post Card, Bobbe also used the letter K to identify his post cards.  The color printing process is the same one used by Bobbe.  For example see Bobbe Litho K430 Caliente.

It is likely the post cards at Shier’s drug store had been on the rack for several years, and it is also likely they were printed by Bobbe’s  former  partner M. S. Kraus.

  The Bobbe Lithographic Company’s connection to Nevada

The Bobbe Litho Company connection to Nevada started five years earlier when it announced plans to begin selling post cards directly to retailers. [ii]

In addition to Shier in Caliente, a retailer in Las Vegas responded to Bobbe’s announcement.  Both retailers would order post cards that would mark key historic event.

In Caliente it was drug store owner Shier who sent in an order.  He soon received the shipment of post cards, despite limited communication with the outside world.

Caliente is one of the main Nevada stations on what is now the Union Pacific line between California and Utah.

A massive storm New Year’s Eve, 1909, knocked out more than 100 miles of the railroad with Caliente almost in the middle.  It took nearly six months to completely re-open the rail line.

Mail and supplies were brought in by wagon from Pioche, twenty-five miles north of Caliente.

Shier was clearly one of the first to order from Bobbe as he received his post cards in early April, 1910.  The earliest known Bobbe card post mark Caliente, April 27, 1910 a month before the rail line opened. .

When the railroad line reopened in mid-June 1910, John Shier’s drug store had a ready supply of storm related post cards.

It was Bobbe’s March announcement that caught Shier’s attention.  The price was right and he didn’t have to order thousands of post cards. He also he knew there would be a demand for post cards once the rail line reopened.

Up to that date Bobbe Litho, which both manufactured and imported post cards, sold only to wholesalers.[iii]

Bobbe’s move was the result of action by the Federal Government.

With the approval by the President and the U.S. Congress of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909, the U.S. post card industry was looking at an uncertain future.

In late 1909 Bobbe was looking for a new revenue stream.

With his partner and longtime friend, Maurice Albert Kraus, they made a decision and sent out an press release to a target audience; drug stores.

Several trade magazines including The Pharmaceutical Era, the American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, and the Canadian Druggist printed the announcement.

The company’s press release modestly described itself as making “a bold move…best explained in the words of S. Bobbe, the well-known lithographer, whose plants in American and Holland are world renowned.”

Before the new tariff on post cards from Europe wholesalers around United States had stocked up on post cards.   Wholesale prices dropped, and Bobbe said the situation was “very sad indeed.”

To this point in time Bobbe said he had kept his companies post card work quiet; “We have sunk our identity for many years” by “printing other names on them as publishers.” [iv]

Now he said the post card part of his company was going public with a new sales plan; “we find that our post card business is best conserved by direct contact with the retailer.”

Bobbe’s enticement to the small shop owners was financial.  The company announcement, said it was sending out a catalogue with prices so “low as to give the dealer the benefit of the jobbers’ profits and the salesman’s commissions.” [v]

Not only would be wholesale price be attractive, Bobbe said his company had “perfected a glazed view which our foreign house formerly made and we now make them equally.”

Bobbe went on to compare his cards to the ‘real photo’ post cards.  He said his post cards have “a photo finish that far excels many of the photographic views cards that are sold throughout the country.” [vi]

Bobbe’s announcements included another inducement for small retailers, he sell his postcards “in lots of 500” and would “deliver views in two weeks’ time.” [vii]

Two southern Nevada drug stores, one in Las Vegas and Shier’s in Caliente  responded to the offer.

           Bobbe and Kraus knew each other                  for more than 30 years

In addition to being his partner and friend, M. Albert Kraus was Bobbe’s naturalization sponsor. [viii]

Bobbe arrived in the United States from England in September of 1876.  He was sixteen.

On October 15, 1885 he became a citizen of the United States.   A year later he listed his occupation as “bookbinder.”[ix]

By 1910, Bobbe had become one of Kraus’ partners, along with Simon Goodman in the Kraus Manufacturing Company, a printing house in New York.[x]

Despite orders from Caliente and Las Vegas as well as responses from retailers around the country, including Lake Tahoe, this was Bobbe last known post card effort.

Kraus Continues on in the Post Card world

 

Kraus Post Card for Broadway show “Mutt & Jeff”  1911-1912. Has Kraus back, not Bobbe.

Kraus on the other hand, using the same back found on the Bobbe post cards, would print at least one Nevada post card, and would go on to create post cards for both silent film stars and Broadway shows.  Kraus’ credit line would often appear on the backs of his post cards he created.

“The Lilac Domino” opened on Broadway October 28, 1914.  Post card published by Kraus, with Bobbe back.

 

 Caliente, John Shier  Las Vegas, Warren Wilson

Shier and Warren Wilson of Las Vegas, owned and operated the major stores in southern Nevada.

Shier had been a drug store owner and operator in the south-east part of Nevada for several decades..

Starting in Pioche in 1880 he opened “Shier’s Hesperian Drug Store.”[xi]  By 1894 he had moved to De Lamar, Nevada and had set up shop as a “pharmacist.”  His new operation was called the “Prescription Drug Store.”

In 2012, a 5 1/8 inch tall bottle from his De Lamar drug store sold for $1,000. [xii]

When the railroad was built between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles the town of Calientes, with an “s” was created.  As De Lamar would soon turn unto a ghost town Shier opened the Caliente Drug Store.

Front page advertisement in July 27, 1906 issue of

The Pioche Weekly Record

Shier, originally from Ringwood, Hampshire, England was 62-years-old when he ordered post cards from Bobbe in 1910.

A few months after receiving is post cards from Bobbe, Shier announced his plans to run for the Nevada Assembly representing Lincoln County.[xiii]  Two decades earlier he had served in the Nevada Legislature.

Late in 1910, after the rail line had been restored Shier, and Charles Squires, publisher of the Las Vegas Age newspaper were named in to the Platform Committee, of the Nevada State Republican Party.[xiv]

Not likely the two men discussed Bobbe post cards.  Although, Squires did use Bobbe post cards to promote his campaign for the Nevada Legislature representing Clark County.

The Squires state senate campaign mailers are the first known use of post cards in a Las Vegas election.

Both Shier and Squires made it to the November general election.  Both lost.

Wilson Drug Store – Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, Warren Wilson had just turned 22 years old when he moved to Nevada in 1906. [xv]

By 1910 he was part owner and ran the largest drug store in Clark County new county seat, Las Vegas. [xvi]

Wilson’s drug store was located on the first floor of the building located on the North West corner of First and Fremont Street.

Wilson Drug Store  Las Vegas.  Albertype Post Card     ca. 1910

It is likely Wilson’s 1910 post card order was his first and last from Bobbe.  It is also likely that the Bobbe order was the last order Wilson made for any post card for his Las Vegas drug store.

While Wilson used several post card publishers while he operated the drug store, his company of choice was Albertype of Brooklyn, New York.  He used Albertype starting 1907, as did his processor.

Wilson was sick most of 1910 and was either in the hospital or at home recovering.

In mid-March of 1910, the news hit; “New Drug Store.”  The newspaper reported “Las Vegas is to have another business house on Fremont Street.  The name of the new enterprise is the Las Vegas Drug Company.  The store will be neatly fitted up and will be ready for business within the coming week.  In addition to drugs the concern will carry a stock of optical goods and jewelry.”[xvii]

The store, which specialized in “eye glasses, eyes examined, glasses made and repaired,” also started selling real photo post cards of southern Nevada.[xviii]

Within days of the new drug store opening, Wilson became “quite ill” and was “confined to his house”[xix]     After being “confined to the house by illness for over a week,” Wilson was sent to Los Angeles, and “will stay in the southland some time for recuperation.”   Neither Las Vegas newspaper, while reporting on the Wilson’s illness many times, every mentioned the exact nature of his illness.

At the end of April 1910 the Age reported that Wilson, after being confined to a “California hospital for several days, he is now able to be out.”[xx]

Several weeks later, Wilson after a “sojourn of several weeks returns much improved in his health, and is once more attending to business at the drug store.”[xxi]

It is during this period Wilson probably ordered as many as ten different views of Las Vegas from Bobbe.

Whatever was causing Wilson’s ill health, it hit again 60 days later.  The public was informed at the end of July their primary pharmacist “has been ill for a week past, went to Los Angeles. It is hoped that the change of climate and rest from business will soon restore him to health.”[xxii]

He returned a month later, “much improved in health and spirit from his sojourn in Los Angeles.”[xxiii]

Wilson’s “spirit” did not last long. Less than 30 days later he called it quits.  His mysterious malady was given for his departure.  One report said that “Mr. Wilson has been in ill health for the past year, and on this account felt the need of a change, and will take a much needed rest on the coast.”  The headline to the story simply said Wilson “Disposes of Drug Business.”[xxiv]

Within weeks, the new owner and a new name for the business was announced.  “E.S. Wharton, of Rhyolite has purchased the interest of W. B. Wilson in the Wilson Drug Company and will assume the management of the business.  He has a large stock of goods at Rhyolite which will be moved here and combined with the stock of the local store.”[xxv]

The Wilson Drug Store became the Wharton Drug Store.  Like Wilson, Wharton  ordered his Las Vegas post cards from Albertype.  However, Wharton never placed an order with Bobbe.

Bobbe Nevada Post Cards 1910-1911

The Bobbe post cards were likely produced over a one year period beginning in the spring of 1910. The dates of printing and likely re-orders, are based on Bobbe’s announcement, postmarks and the images and titles of the Nevada post cards.

It is possible that Shier placed an order for a panoramic view of Caliente in 1914.   A post card with a Bobbe Shier back, with only a “Pub by John Shier –K1318” is known to exist with the title “Birdseye View of Caliente, Nevada.”

Known Postmarks.

  • Caliente, Nevada, April 27, 1910.
  • Caliente, Nevada, June 20, 1910.
  • Caliente, Nevada, July 12, 1910.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada August 30, 1910 A.M.
  • Los Angeles, California, September 10, 1910
  • Caliente, November 6, 1910.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, November 11, 1910.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, February 16, 1911.
  • Caliente, March 1, 1911
  • Caliente, Nevada, April 11, 1911.
  • Caliente, May 10, 1911.
  • Las Vegas, November 11, 1910.
  • Caliente, Nevada, June 26, 1911.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, June 29, 1911 A.M.
  • Las Vegas, July 6, 1911.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, August 3, 1911
  • Las Vegas, September 21, 1911.
  • Las Vegas, October 2, 1911.
  • Las Vegas, December 16, 1911.
  • Caliente, July 1, 1914.
  • L. City & Los Angeles, TR 2 R.P.O. June 30, 1914
  • Caliente, Nevada, August 5, 1915.
  • Caliente, Nevada, August 20, 1915
  • Ogden & Los Angeles, R.P.O, September 3, 1915
  • Caliente, Nevada, September 4, 1915.

 

 

Bobbe Post Card Backs

There are two known Bobbe backs on Calientes and Las Vegas post cards.

Bobbe Litho  Back  Version One

 

Bobbe Litho Back  Version Two

Check List of known Bobbe Litho Nevada Post Cards

Caliente

Series 86,  Also reissued as Series 140

This is a vertical card with three views damaged railroad tracks from the storm of 1910. Each of the three images has its own title.

  • There are two horizontal views on the face of the card and one vertical view.
  • Horizontal “Caliente, Nev.”  Shows twisted railroad tracks.
  • Vertical view “Two Miles above Caliente.” Shows more twisted tracks.
  • Horizontal “One & One Half Miles above Caliente.” Shows washed out track and trestle
  • No publisher listed. Earliest known postmark is Caliente, April 27, 1910.
  • This same view was produced under Bobbe’s Series 140. Version 2 of the back was used.   Possibly a re-order of a popular post card.

 

 

 

Series 95

Title is “MAIN STREET, CALIENTE, NEV.”

  • This is a black and white view look south from the west side of the tracks towards the business section of town and the depot.
  • Earliest known postmark is June 12, 1910. Published for John Shier.

 

 

Series 148

A multi view post card of Caliente.  Each view has a title within the image.

  • “FRONT VIEW OF COMPANY HOUSES, CALIENTE, NEV.”
  • “SAW MILL CANYON, HIGH BRIDGE EAST OF BIG SPRINGS ELEVEN MILES EAST OF CALIENTE”
  • BRIDGE (TURNED OVER) 20 MILES WEST OF CALIENTE
  • The images on the post card appear on post cards printed earlier by other publishers..

 

Series K.205

Title, “Caliente, Nevada, 1910”

  • This post card was issued with three different Bobbe Litho numbers,
    • 205
    • 238
    • 1042
    • All three have the same back.
  • All three post cards were “Pub. By Bobbe Litho Co., New York City for John Shier.”
  • Shier’s name is misspelled ‘Ghier’ on the first issue, K.205.
  • On the last print run, K.1042 a small water pond lower right has been colored in.

 

Series K 430

This card, is titled “Caliente, Nevada.”

  • The view shows the town and mountains in the distance from an almost ‘birds-eye’ view.
  • A light green color was added to the sky, a brown to the desert and a dark grey to the town.
  • “Pub. By Bobbe Litho Co., N.Y. for John Shier”

 

 

Series K 1296

  1. A vertical post card with two images of Caliente.
  • Each image has its own title; “Main St. Caliente, Nev.,” and “Depot, Caliente, Nev.” and “Round House,” and “Across the track, Caliente, Nevada
  • Published for “John Shier” by Bobbe.
  1. A vertical post card with two images of Caliente.
  • Each image has its own title; MAIN ST. CALIENTE, NEV.,” and ‘DEPOT, CALIENTE NEV.” However, the second view shows seven men standing at the front of a steam engine number 19.

 Bobbe backs, but no Bobbe credit line.

One has the credit line “Pub. By Kraus Mfg. Co., N.Y.” the other card with the same back has a credit line “Pub. By John Shier- K1318.”

Based on the backs, the “K” number, it is likely that Kraus purchased Bobbe sometime between 1911 and 1914.

 K 1318

  1. This is a color post card titled “Birdseye view of Caliente, Nevada.”
  • The colors are identical to those found in K430 “Caliente, Nevada.”
  • Published by John Shier
  • Earliest postmark is July 1, 1914.

No number.   Kraus Mfg. Company.

  1. The title is “Caliente, Nevada.”
  • This post card has the credit line “Pub. By Kraus Mfg. Co., N. Y.”
  • This is a view of the business district next to the tracks on the depot side of the railroad.
  • The earliest known postmark is December 14, 1916.
  • The post card has an early Bobbe Litho post card back.

 

Check List of Bobbe Las Vegas

Post Cards

Series 140

Another post card printed by Bobbe  records  an important moment in Las Vegas’ history.   

In 1910, Charles P. Squires, who owned and operated the Las Vegas Age, one of communities two weekly newspapers campaigned for the office of State Senator representing Clark County.

In February of 199, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a series of articles on historic Las Vegas figures.   The late journalist K.J. Evans wrote, “If there is any individual who deserves the title “The Father of Las Vegas,” it is Charles Pember Squires, a native of Austin, Minn., who spent more than 50 years here, building, boosting and ballyhooing his city. Fellow citizens who knew him during that time in Las Vegas greeted him with the sobriquet of “Pop,” and his wife, Delphine, as “Mom.”[xxvi]

As part of his 1910 campaign, Squires sent out post cards in the primary election seeking the Republican nomination.

He used a Series 140 post card from Bobbe Lithographic Company titled “Views at Las Vegas, Nev.”.

The multi view has three images, the Salt Lake Route railroad depot, Fremont Street looking west, and an image of the First State Bank.

On the back of the card, most mailed in August, before the September primary, Squires printed “Dear Sir:  I am asking the republicans for the nomination for State Senator.  I believe I am the man you want.  If you think so too, your vote at the primaries will be appreciated as a personal favor.  I have the interests of the County deeply at heart, as you may know through my paper, The Las Vegas Age, and will esteem it a high honor to represent you.   Yours Very truly, Chas. P. Squires.”

The card was addressed “Dear Sir,” as women were not allowed to vote in 1910.

Other Bobbe Series 140 Las Vegas Post Cards.

The 140 Series use a Bobbe Litho post card back, and series number, but Bobbe does not have a credit line on the back, only “Pub. by Wilson Drug Co., Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Title

  1. “VIEWS OF LAS VEGAS NEV.” In a small triangle in the center of the post card.

This post card has three untitled views on the face of the card.

  • The First State Bank building.
  • The railroad depot
  • Fremont Street look west from Second Street.

Earliest known postmark, Apr. 30, 1910.

  1. “DESERT SCENES LAS VEGAS, NEV.” In a small triangle in the center of the post card.

There are three views on the face of this post card.

  • Two men on horses with three pack mules loaded with prospecting Equipment.  The Newman Post printed this same view for Wilson Card Company, card 2, titled “On the Desert, Las Vegas, Nevada.”
  • A view of two dozen burros, near a creek, with Sunrise Mountain in the background. The same view was printed for Wilson by the Albertype Company of New York, and titled, “Burros, Stewart Ranch, Las Vegas, Nevada.”
  • This is a view of seven burros with backpacks, with what looks like Frenchman’s Mountain in the background. Earliest known postmark is September 10, 1910- Los Angeles, California.
  1. “CHURCHES, LAS VEGAS, NEV.”

This post card has the separate views of the two churches in Las Vegas in 1910-1911.

Earliest known postmark is July 6, 1911 – Las Vegas.

  1. “CATHOLIC CHAPEL, LAS VEGAS, NEV.”

Earliest known postmark Feb 16, 1911- Las Vegas.

  1. “SALT LAKE DEPT. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA.”

Note, different font used for title, and Nevada not abbreviated.

Series 166 and Series 1004

Both the Series 166 and 1004 have credit lines “Pub by Bobbe Litho. Co., New York City,” and “For Wilson Drug Co.” on the back.

  1. “CATERPILLAR OF NEVADA,” SANDSTONE CO., LAS VEGAS, NEV.

Earliest known postmark is November 11, 1910- Las Vegas.

 Series 1004

  1. “SCENE ON CLARK & RONNOW RANCH. LAS VEGAS, NEV.”
  2. “FIELD ON CLARK & RONNOW RANCH. LAS VEGAS, NEV.”

Earliest known post mark is October, 1920-Las Vegas.

The Clark & Ronnow Ranch were front page news in April of 1910.   The Las Vegas Age reported on April 30 in a story titled “Paradise Valley,”  “Where less than two ears ago was only the gray of the desert may now be seen…little bunches of greenery.”   the story went on to say there were “several acres of sugar cane,” as well as corn, and barley” and Clark and Ronnow said “we have 480 acres of land…of this we will probably have 120 acres under cultivation by the end of the season.”  The story ended with the note the Clark and Ronnow Ranch provides an example of why “it is little wonder that the Vegas valley is receiving much attention.”                                     It is possible the story and the publishing of the post cards of the ranch was part of a marketing effort to sell land in Las Vegas.

How many post cards of southern Nevada were produced by Bobbe-Kraus?

It is likely the Bobbe Lithographic Company of New York City, New York printed more than twenty different card images of southern Nevada in 1910.

There are nine known Bobbe cards of Caliente, and 8 of Las Vegas.  Included in the known total of seventeen post cards are 9 multi view cards.  There are a total of eighteen views on the 9 multi view cards.

It is possible the images on the multi view cards were also produced as individual view cards.

For example an untitled three image multi view card of the 1910 New Year’s track washout in Meadows Valley contains three titled views; A card titled “Caliente, Nev” that shows only twisted railroad tracks, a view titled “Two Miles Above Caliente,” that shows more twisted railroad tracks, and a third view titled “One & One Half Miles Above Caliente,” that shows track and a washed out trestle.

On the other hand three image multi-view cards tilted “VIEWS OF LAS VEGAS, NEV.” Shows views that had already been released as individual cards by other post cards producers.

No Bobbe post cards from other parts of Nevada have been uncovered.  There are known Bobbe post cards from the California side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Footnotes

[i] “Marooned Artists Give Charity Show,” September 6, 1915, The Salt Lake Tribune, page 8.

[ii] “Bobbe Litho Co. to Sell Director to Dealers,” March 1910, “The Pharmaceutical Era, magazine, New York, Page 292.

[iii] “Bobbe Litho Co. to Sell Director to Dealers,” March 1910, “The Pharmaceutical Era, magazine, New York, Page 292.

[iv] “Direct to the Retailer,” March 1910, The Canadian Druggist magazine, Toronto, Canada, Page 175. “The Retailer Gets the Bottom Line,” June 27, 1910, American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Page A 24.

[v] “Bobbe Litho Co. to Sell Director to Dealers,” March 1910, “The Pharmaceutical Era, magazine, New York, Page 292.

[vi] “Direct to the Retailer,” March 1910, The Canadian Druggist magazine, Toronto, Canada, Page 175. “The Retailer Gets the Bottom Line,” June 27, 1910, American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Page A 24.

[vii] “Bobbe Litho Co. to Sell Director to Dealers,” March 1910, “The Pharmaceutical Era, magazine, New York, Page 292.

[viii] “Co-partnership and Corporation Directory of the City of New York,” March 1910, Trow Directory, Printing & Bookbinding Company, New York, Page 93.

[ix]  “Throw’s New York City Directory,” May 1, 1886, The Grow City Directory Company, New York, Page 167. “Petitions for Naturalization” New York City,  Samuel Bobbe, Records of the District Court, 1685-2009, Record group Number, RG21.

[x] “Co-partnership and Corporation Directory of City of New York, March 1910, Trow directory, Printing & Bookbinding Company, New York, Page 449.

[xi] Display advertisement for Shier’s Hesperian Drug Store, June 21, 1890, The Pioche, Nevada Record, page 4.

[xii] http://www.icollector.com/John-Shier-Bottle-NV-Delamar-Lincoln-County-c1894-1903-2012aug-Nevada-Bottles_i13391032

[xiii]  “Political Announcement,” July 23, 1910, The Pioche Nevada Record, page 4.

[xiv]  “Republican Party stands United in Convention,” September 28, 2910, Reno Evening Gazette, page 2.

[xv] Las Vegas Age, November 11, 1906

[xvi]  “Thomas Block Leased, November 24, 1906, Las Vegas Age, page 1.

[xvii].  “New Drug Store,” March 18, 1910, page 1.

[xviii]. Clark County Review, June 11, 1910, page 6

[xix]. Clark County Review, April 16, 1910, page 6

[xx]. Las Vegas Age, April 30, 1910, page 5.

[xxi]. Clark County Review, May 21, 1910, page 6

[xxii]. Las Vegas Age, July 32, 1910, page 5

[xxiv].. “Disposes of Drug Business,” January 21, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page one..

[xxv].   “Local Notes,” March 11, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page 5.

[xxvi] https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/c-p-squires/

 

Chapter One 1928-1929 THE FIRST NEON SIGNS IN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 Neon  in  Las Vegas    1928 to 1930,    the First 14 months.

(updated March 1, 2018)

Preface. In 2011, Dorothy Wright and I were serving on the City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission.   Dorothy, who fought for years to preserve the history of Las Vegas including Neon signs, was working on a book on the topic.

In researching early aviation history in Las Vegas I bumped into a small newspaper article about a Neon sign.   I mentioned it to Dorothy and she asked for the clipping.

The reference is found on page eighteen of the book “Spectacular, A History of Las Vegas Neon,” written by Dorothy, Melissa Johnson and Carrie Schomig.

They write, “The Overland was, if not the first, certainly one of the first neon signs in Las Vegas.”   The same paragraph provides a brief look at signs in the late 1920’s before moving on the 1930’s.

Our focus starts in September of 1928, and ends in December of 1929.  During this brief period Las Vegas would see the first glow of a Neon sign, as well as the beginning of the battles over whose Neon display was bigger and brighter.

Additional research reveals the Neon sign on the Overland Hotel was in fact the first, and ten more followed by the end of 1929.

(All the images in this story are from the author’s collection)

THE  FIRST  NEON  SIGN   IN   LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas in the winter of 1928 was weeks away from becoming known around the world.

At the moment, however, all was unusually quiet in the normally wide-open desert out-post.

The prohibition against the sale of alcohol in the United States was still the law, and in Nevada most forms of gambling were also illegal.

But since its founding in 1905, law enforcement in the areas of liquor, gambling and prostitution was done with a wink and a nod.

However, starting in the middle of 1928 through early 1929, a heavy lid was placed on illegal gambling and the sale of alcohol.

The “King of the Las Vegas Underworld,” was in jail, the Las Vegas Chief of Police had resigned in disgrace, and the Mayor was about to be busted by federal agents, and face a recall for crimes related to the other two men.

ca. 1928 Post card of Fremont Street looking west.

For most Las Vegans, despite the cool winter days, and the government scandals, a bright future was in the air.

After nearly a decade of debate the United States Congress appeared ready to approve a bill to build a massive dam across the Colorado River, not far from Las Vegas.

On December 18, following a 166 to 122 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives  the legislation was sent to President Calvin Coolidge.

Seventy-two hours later, the President signed the Boulder Canyon Dam bill.

In a story sent nationwide by the Associated Press wire service, “shot-guns and frying pans were pressed into service as noise makers” in Las Vegas “by a joy-mad populace that turned out to celebrate.”[i]

Not only were “joy-mad” locals excited, so were, and using the broadest definition of the word possible, ‘entrepreneurs,’ who saw the light at the northern edge of the Mojave desert.

They were all on their way.  Real estate speculators, business owners, construction workers, and those who saw the empty shoes of the King of the Las Vegas underworld as an opportunity.

Clark County Sheriff Sam Gay received a letter from a company saying, “When Boulder Dam is built, you’ll need a bigger jail, let us build it for you.”

Las Vegans who had been living with the ups and downs of dam possibility, began feeling in early the year the project would get the green light.

Ethel Guenter was the owner of The Overland, one of the two large hotels in Las Vegas. [ii]

Late in August of 1928 she felt it was time to improve the marketing of the Overland.  One of Guenter’s answers included the word Neon.

The hotel was in a prime spot located on the north east corner of Main and Fremont.  On the other side of Main was the Union Pacific Railroad passenger depot.

However, across Fremont Street, on the south west corner was the Guenther main competition, the Hotel Nevada, now the Golden Gate Hotel.

Of the two, the Nevada was a bit more upscale.

The Overland catered to the bus travelers, as well business traveler.  The hotel had a “Large Free Sample Room” where salesmen could display their wares.

There were no companies in Las Vegas in the fall of 1928 that provided signs with tubes filled with the rare-earth gas Neon.

Either Guenther saw an advertisement in a Salt Lake City, or Los Angeles newspaper, or  she ordered it from a traveling sign salesman, in either case in August an order for a Neon sign was placed.

A month later, the following story appeared on front page one of the September 28th Las Vegas Review newspaper.[iii]

The double sided sign contained the words “OVERLAND HOTEL.”  But only the “HOTEL” was fashioned out of tubes filled with Neon.

It is not known if the word  “HOTEL” flashed on and off, or the color. Likely tubes likely glowed a reddish-orange, the natural color of Neon

What is known is the sign, with the eight to 10 inches tall Neon letters, left an impression on the reporter who wrote the sign adds “considerable to the appearance of that section of the city.[iv]

The new neon sign hung down from a pole extended from the corner of the hotel horizontally over the sidewalk.

A review of the cities other newspaper, the Las Vegas Age, published by Charles and Delphine  Squires, for the months of September and October, 1928, revealed no reference to Neon, or the new sign at the Overland Hotel.

Therefore, the title of “First Neon Sign” in Las Vegas award goes to

the Overland Hotel, September 28, 1928.

 

Pause for a moment with a However!

There is a ‘however’ to this historical award.  It comes from  newspaperman  Squires who arrived in Las Vegas in 1905.

In 1948 Squires said he believed the first Las Vegas Neon sign was installed “about 1928.” [v]

He thought the first Neon sign that went up was installed on the southwest corner of Second and Fremont, where the Golden Nugget is now located.

Squires said there was “a cigar store operated by Jimmie Powers and Bob Griffith.”

It was the Mission Cigar Store.  And according to Squires “there the first Neon sign in Las Vegas blossomed out with the one word, “Cigars” standing out from the building about four and one-half feet in length.”[vi]

A photograph, ca 1930,  of the corner reveals the letters in the sign were all upper case;“CIGARS”

Squires added, the Neon sign created “quite a blaze of light for the little town and we all figured they would have to sell a lot of cigars to pay for it.” [vii]

He said the second Neon sign in Las Vegas was “a small one on the M. W. Davis Jewelry store which read simply “Jewelry.” [viii]

Squires “small” description may have been based on a comparison of the 1929 Davis sign to the much larger Neon signs along Fremont Street when he made his comments in 1948.

After Cigar and Jeweler  Squires said “there was a fever of Neon signs, each one larger and more artistic, beautiful and brilliant that its predecessor.” [ix]

There is a however,’ to the Squires ‘however.’
In early April, 1929, Alexander Barrett, described at the time as a “neon expert” and his partners opened the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company.

Nine months later, on January 1, 1930, the company advertised it had created several of the Neon signs in town.  On the list of signs, The Mission Cigar Store and M. W. Davis Jeweler Company.[x]

If the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company didn’t open its doors until the spring of 1929, the cigar sign, while early, was not the first.

Nor was the jewelry sign in the window of Davis’ shop the first.  After the sign company opened, Davis became a part owner.

In a 1953 article Squires wrote, “The first neon sign I remember in Las Vegas was placed over the door of the Kiva Club in the old building, corner of Second and Fremont, where the Golden Nugget now blazes.  It said “KIVA” in red letters about three inches high and REALLY WAS A NEW WONDER IN Las Vegas.”   [xi]

The two signs, Mission Cigar, and the Kiva night club were in the same spot.  Kiva replaced cigar.

Squires added, “Jack Young thinks there were other small neon signs here prior to that one, but I remember only the “KIVA.” [xii]

Young, of the pioneering Neon sign company, Young Electric, was partially correct, there were signs prior to the KIVA, but they were not “small.”

The two ‘howevers’ do not hold up to additional research.

The award for having the “First Neon Sign in Las Vegas” rest firmly with the historic Overland Hotel, which was still under the facade and previous remodels of the Las Vegas Club until it was torn down this year.

 

The sign would only be up for a couple of years.   Its life expectancy was reduced when the city starting  adding ornate street lights to Fremont Street in October of 1929.

Also note the ladder and the ornamental wrought iron fencing being covered or replaced.

When the light pole was installed, the first Neon side was moved to the Fremont Street side of the hotel

Finally, the sign was removed, along with the trees and replaced with two larger Neon signs.  One on the Main Street side and a second large sign on the Fremont Street side.

 

Up to the mid 1920’s the primary source of transportation in and out of Las Vegas was the Union Pacific Railroad.

Starting in the mid teens, work began to improve the roads between Utah and California.  Until the early 1920’s the roads were a small step above trails.

Then in 1926, the federal government created U.S. Highway 91 and bus travel became part of the transportation options, in and out of Las Vegas.

Coming in from southern California, through Nevada and into Utah the highway was paved.   Paved in terms of the 1920’s definition; leveled, add oil, add gravel, and oil again.

Driving into Las Vegas from Los Angeles highway heading south on 5th Street, (Now Las Vegas Boulevard) then a zig-zag west on Fremont Street to Main Street and turn north to Salt Lake City; 5th, Fremont, Main Streets, all U.S. Highway 91.

A wide shot of Fremont Street showing three of the 4 first Neon signs in Las Vegas as well as a U.S. Highway 91 sign. ca. 1930

By the late 1920’s thousands of cars a year traveled the highway through Las Vegas.

Several clubs and so-call soft drink emporiums were operating on the first two blocks of Fremont.

The two main operations where you could have a ‘drink’ and gamble legally at poker, and pull a few slot machine handles, were the Northern and the Las Vegas Clubs.

               Based on the automobile’s  license plate,  this is Northern Hotel Sign                       in early 1929.  

With the dam legislation approved new business were moving in and in many cases proving competition to existing operators, including the gaming clubs.

A couple of clubs would be built out past the city limits on U.S. 91.  The first in 1929 would be the Red Rooster, followed by the Pair O’ Dice.

Another early riser was Prosper J. Goumond, and his crew of experienced gamblers from Ely.   In late spring of 1929 they moved to Las Vegas bought the lot at 118 Fremont and built the Boulder Club.

Just before Goumond arrived, two Neon sign companies opened for business in the city.  With his arrival, the summer and fall of 1929 would mark the beginning of the Las Vegas Neon wars.

The first known neon sign company in the Las Vegas opened in February of 1929, as the Boski Electric Company.   When its owner Earl K. Bruce convinced his two brothers to join him, the name quickly changed to the Bruce Brothers electric company; “live wire electricians.”[xiii]

Then the brothers cut a deal with the largest Neon firm in the world, Claude Neon Signs. [xiv]

 The Claude Neon sign company was owned by Georges Claude, a French inventor.   Claude was a pioneer in the development of neon lighting.  He would patent his inventions in the U.S. and fought many court battles to preserve his ideas.

Claude is considered to be the first person “to apply an electrical discharge to a. sealed tube with neon as the gas creating the first neon lamp.” [xv]

The same day the Bruce Brothers announced their deal with Claude  the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company opened its doors.

Barrett and his partners said they were “here to stay and will handle work on signs of any size or class” as well as “providing servicing after the installation,”

The company opened its shop at 18 Bridger Street with what the partnership called “full equipment.” [xvii]

Bruce Brothers and Las Vegas Neon would become part of Las Vegas’ first battle of the Neon signs.

The fight would start with ‘my sign is larger than your sign,’ and over the years would develop into an artistic, and technological marketing game of who can attract the most attention.

Downtown Las Vegas would combine its Neon and western theme and become known in the 1940’s as “Glitter Gulch.”

Looking west at the tree-lined third street of Fremont with railroad depot on background,   the Golden Hotel in early 1929 before its Neon sign was installed. 

The Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company on the night of April 29, 1929, finished its first major installation at the Hotel Golden. [xviii]

 The hotel, owned by Mrs. Thomas R. Hodgens, was located at 323 Fremont on the south side at the corner of 4th and Fremont.

Beyond the fact that it was described as an eight foot long Neon sign, no images or other details of the sign have been uncovered.

The story announcing the installation included the following sentence, “When the eight foot long sign was turned on, Mrs. Hodges expressed pride in ownership of one of the state of the art electric signs.” [xix]

While Las Vegas Neon was working on the Hotel Golden sign, the Bruce Brothers were working on an even bigger sign for the Boulder Club. [xx]

This early 1931 post card shows the sign was painted green.  And while artists at the post card printing plant often made their own artistic decisions, they were provided with color details by the company ordering the post cards.  In this case it was William Ferron or his staff.  He owned  drugs stores in Las Vegas and at the time was the largest post card publisher in southern Nevada.

Since the new club was in the middle of the business district Goumond decided he needed a sign that could be seen at the railroad depot, and drivers traveling on U.S. 91.

 Opened on Saturday night of July 27, 1929, with gaming tables on the west side of the long two-story building and the bar and a few “nickel-in-the-slot-machines” on the east side, Goumond called his place, “Nevada’s Finest Men’s Club.”

His advertisements would not mention gambling, as that was covered in the word “Club.”   Goumond did point to his “Soda Fountain, Sandwiches, Candies, Cigars, Cigarettes, and Tobaccos.”  [xxi]

On opening day, the Las Vegas Age promoted the Boulder Club saying the new business was “crowned with its great twelve-foot Neon sign.[xxii]

The Boulder Club’s sign was four feet longer then the Hotel Golden’s 8-foot sign two blocks east.

 

 

The vertical double sided sign on the Boulder Club extended out from the top of the second floor up past the roof line.

And for with sharp eyes,  at the bottom of the photograph is the “Louis Wiener” clothing store.

The Wiener’s son, Lou would go on to become a famous Las Vegas attorney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original sign was still up when this photograph was taken in late August, 1931.  It provides the detail of where and how the Boulder Club Neon sign was installed.

As the Bruce Brothers were assembling and installing the Boulder Club sign, Barrett’s Las Vegas Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company had secured a contract from the Northern Club.

Owned by the Stocker family the Northern Hotel and Club, located at 15 Fremont Street, wanted the largest Neon sign in town.[xxiii]

The need for space to build the large Northern sign required the company to move from its Bridger Street location to Third and Carson.  Two weeks after the Boulder Club sign began to glow, the Las Vegas Neon company owners said they were working on a “big new sign for the Northern Club.” [xxiv]  The announcement said the sign was “almost finished and ready for erection.” [xxv]

The Las Vegas Age reported in its Saturday, August 24, 1929 edition, “The new sixteen-foot neon electric sign at the Northern Club will be flashing tonight, according to Barrett and Clout, builders of the sign.  It is the largest neon sign in the city and will flash the word “The” and then “Northern Club.”

This ca 1930 view, shows the east side of the two side sign.

Once again, the Neon colors were not mentioned.

From the photographs it appears the sign was painted white or a yellow.

 

 

 

Two months later, in October without the “THE” an advertisement appeared in the Las Vegas Age with a graphic of the Stocker’s new sign.

   The one time ad was an unusual move for the Stockers who didn’t regularly use the local newspapers to promote their club.

 

 

 

 

 

While it would be the fourth Neon sign to light up Fremont Street, for a while, it would be the tallest and the flashiest.

This late 1929, early 1930 post card shows the Northern’s first neon sign, as well as being the site for another city light pole.

It appears the only Neon sign the Bruce Brothers installed in 1929 was at the Boulder Club.   Over the next couple of years the company would change management and focus on electrical work.  That would change after meeting Thomas Young.

At the end of 1929, the Las Vegas Neon Sign Company had built and installed Neon signs at the Golden Hotel,  Gateway Hotel, Northern Club,   M. W. Davis Jeweler, Beckley’s, Professional Pharmacy, and the Mission Cigar Store.  The sign company also said they were the “contractors for the new Las Vegas High School electrical wiring” system.  [xxvi]

Gateway Hotel and Main and Stewart Streets

The battle over the biggest and brightest Neon sign would continue into the 1930’s.

With gambling legalized in 1931 and clubs opening up and down Fremont, new hotels being built and with the construction of the dam well underway 1932 would become a milestone in the history of Neon in Las Vegas.

At some point before May 1, 1932, the Bruce Brothers Electric Company became the simply the “Nevada Electric Company,” with A. M. Bruce as the Manager. [xxvii]

In March of 1932, Thomas Young, of the Young Electric Sign Company set up an office in the brand new Apache Hotel at Second and Fremont Streets.

Young said at the time,  he was “pleased to announce our entering Las Vegas.”   [xxviii]

As part of the initial business plan, Young also said he was working directly with the Nevada Electric Company. [xxix]

Young’s Neon work continues to glow at http://www.neonmuseum.org/about/the-collection/neon-boneyard

Looking for early Neon sign images along Fremont Street, we began to notice as Neon arrived, the trees began to disappear.

        Until a Neon sign is found in Las Vegas before September 28, 1928, the Overland Hotel holds the honor of having the first Neon sign in Las Vegas.

Here is a list of the first eleven known Neon signs in Las Vegas  1928-1929 and when each sign began to glow.

  1. Overland Hotel, week of September 28, 1928.
  2. Golden Hotel, April 29, 1929.
  3. Boulder Club, July 27, 1929.
  4. Northern Club, August, 24, 1929.
  5. W. Davis Jeweler, Summer-Fall, 1929.
  6. Mission Cigar, Fall, 1928.
  7. Beckley’s Department Store, After August 24, 1929
  8. La Salle, after August 24, 1929.
  9. Oak Hotel, after August 24, 1929
  10. Gateway Hotel, Fall, 1929.
  11. Professional Pharmacy, Fall, 1929.

[i] “Celebration at Las Vegas, Nev.” December 21, 1928, Associated Press.

[ii] “New Management for Overland Hotel,” February 10, 1928, Las Vegas Age, page two.

[iii]  The newspaper would be the Las Vegas Review, until took over the “Las Vegas Journal” in July of 1929 to become the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

[iv] “Hotel has New Sign,” September 28, 1928, Las Vegas Review, Page one.

[v]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[vi]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[vii]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[viii]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[ix]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[x]  “Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Co.” display advertisement, January 1, 1930, Las Vegas Review Journal, page four.

[xi] “Observations,” by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, September 12, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas magazine, Page 25.

[xii] “Observations,” by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, September 12, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas magazine, Page 25.

[xiii]  “Boski Electric Opens Temporary Quarters,” February 26, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page two. “Electric Firm Has Two new Members,” March 5, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xiv]  “Neon Signs Have Agents in Vegas,” April 5, 1929, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[xv] http://neonlibrary.com/neon_history_2.html

[xvi] 1930 United States Federal Census, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada,  National archives and records administration, , T626.

[xvii]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xviii]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xix]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xx]  “Boulder Club Holds Grand Opening T’Day,” July 27, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xxi]  Display advertisement, Boulder Club, July 27, 192, Las Vegas Review, page three.

[xxii]  “Boulder Club Holds Grand Opening T’Day,” July 27, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xxiii]  “New Northern Club neon Sign Completed,” August 24, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page three.

[xxiv] “Neon Sign Company is now in New Location,” August 13, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxv] “Neon Sign Company is now in New Location,” August 13, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxvi]  “New Northern Club Neon Sign Completed,” August 24, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxvii] “Electric Company, Inc.,” display advertisement, May 1, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[xxviii]  “Young Electric Sign Company,” display advertisement, March 29, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page six.

[xxix]  “Young Electric Sign Company,” display advertisement, March 29, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page six.

 

Two Nevada Fire Stations listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Two Nevada Fire Stations listed in the National Register of Historic Places

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2018                             

CONTACT: Rebecca Palmer, 775-684-3443

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Today, the National Park Service (NPS) listed the Ely City Hall and Fire Station in Ely, and the Pioche Fire House in Pioche in the National Register of Historic Places. The NPS also approved Fire Stations of Nevada, a special report on historic fire stations in Nevada produced by the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. The report, called a multiple property documentation form (MPDF), provides a history of firefighting and fire station architecture in Nevada, and establishes registration requirements for historic fire stations, making it easier for community members to nominate their eligible fire stations to the National Register. The National Register is the nation’s official list of places worthy of preservation, recognizing important places and potentially qualifying them for certain grants and tax incentives.

The practice of firefighting and the construction of fire stations became a standard element of every community in Nevada by the late-nineteenth century. From professional fire stations in urban environments, such as Las Vegas and Reno, to rural volunteer fire departments in communities like Pioche and Winnemucca, firefighting became, and remains, an essential public service in Nevada. Early firefighters advocated for the adoption of building codes, and developed new methods and equipment to fight fires. They also became noteworthy emblems of public service and volunteerism, often being community-supported and, even today, primarily reliant on volunteers. Most of Nevada’s communities have an historic fire station, even if it is no longer used by its fire department. Many historic fire stations have been successfully adapted for new uses, such as offices or restaurants.

As a result of the MPDF Fire Stations of Nevada, both the Ely City Hall and Fire Station, and the Pioche Fire House, have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Ely City Hall and Fire Station was recognized for its role as the seat of the City of Ely’s government from its construction in 1929 to the present, as well as its role as the headquarters for Ely’s Fire Department from 1929 to 1999. The Pioche Fire House was recognized for its role as the headquarters for the Pioche Fire Department from 1928 to 1954, when a larger, more modern station replaced it. The Pioche Fire Department, now a district in the Lincoln County Fire Protection District, still owns the historic fire house near the intersection of Main Street and Lacour Street.

Residents of Nevada who wish to nominate historic fire stations in their community to the National Register using this report are encouraged to contact the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in Carson City. A copy of the report can be found on the SHPO website at: http://shpo.nv.gov/contexts.

Rise and fall of the Nevada Biltmore. One of 4 Las Vegas resorts built 1941-1942.

(updated February 3, 2018)

  • Motel owner Tom Hull opens the western themed Hotel El Rancho Vegas, on evening of April 3, 1941.
  • The El Cortez hotel-casino with its western motif opens to the public at 6:00 p.m. on November 7, 1941.
  • Famed Hollywood restaurant owner Bob  Brooks opens south seas themed Nevada Biltmore in Las Vegas June 20, 1942
  • October 30, 1942 the western themed Last Frontier Hotel Casino opened.

The four Las Vegas resorts would stand alone until the end of World War Two.

Today, the only one standing is the El Cortez Hotel-casino and it is on the national register of historic places. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=fef848c8-5040-44ca-9bb5-3d90bb9e3475

The histories of El Cortez,  the El Rancho Vegas and the Last Frontier are remembered, in part because of their locations on the Las Vegas strip.  (A quick tangent.  In recent years, the history of the El Cortez because of its owners progressive thinking by adding the resort to the national register of historic places, has been written about extensively.   But there is a lot more to be told, a major change in the social entertainment structure, as well as secret ownership, and we don’t mean Bugsy, that is no secret, nor Meyer, or Sedway, we will just “string” you along on that story.)

Today’s story is about the less known of the four, the Nevada Biltmore.   Less known today,  in part because of its location on North Main Street in downtown Las Vegas.  At the time of its opening it was an important U.S. highway intersection.

Here is a short, but detailed history, with sources that can be used to expand the history of this unique resort.

The Las Vegas Review Journal carried a story on page six of its June 20, 1942 edition announcing the opening of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel under the caption; “Seven Seas Room to Open This Eve.”

The story read, “The colorful Seven Seas room at the new Nevada Biltmore Hotel will be opened this evening at North Main and Bonanza Road, it was announced today by Bob Brooks, owner.” [i]

“Brooks” the newspaper story said, was the ” owner of the Somerset House in Beverly Hills and the Seven Seas in Hollywood, revealed that Johnny Bush[ii] will be in charge of the casino, Eddie Bush, famous Hawaiian band leader, will have charge of the music and Al Smith, noted chef from the Somerset House will supervise the preparation of the food.” [iii]

The newspaper story added, “The decorations of the Seven Seas are both unusual and authentic featuring paintings of the exquisite oils from Tahiti on a background of velvet.” [iv]

 The pool was visible from the from the intersection Main and Bonanza Streets, which was also where  two U.S. Highways, U.S. 91 and 95 connected.  A popular place for locals.  As a child, U.S. Senator Richard Bryan learned to swim in this pool.

The gaming casinos, cocktail lounge and dining room are all done in South Sea Island motif and one of the interesting decorations is a surf board presented to Brooks by the noted Hawaiian swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku.  The board is covered with the autographs of celebrities.” [v]

“The cocktail lounge will specialize in widely known and colorful rum drinks, Brooks’ reports.” [vi]

January 1, 1943 Brooks leases Biltmore to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin

Less than six months after opening the hotel Bob Brooks leased the operation, with the exception of the casino, to the Martins.

The January 1, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal, on page two, published a story with the caption “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin.”   The story said “The Nevada Biltmore hotel, one of Las Vegas’ newest hostelries, has been leased by the owner, Bob Brooks, to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin, recently of southern California, but formerly of Florida it was announced today.” [vii]

“The new mangers took over the entire hotel operation today, except the casino, which will continue to be operated by Brooks, Martin said.” [viii]

“Special service for Las Vegas residents will be a feature at the hotel under the new management, with emphasis on luncheons, bridge parties, and private entertainment, it was announced.  Floor shows will be a regular attraction in the dining room.” [ix]

“Martin, who spent 18 years at sea as chief steward on passenger liners, plans to introduce many specialty dishes which were favorites with world travelers.” [x]

“Mr. and Mrs. Martin for many years operated hotels in Miami Beach, Florida.  About one and one half years ago they moved to California and leased the Alessandro hotel in Hemet, California, which had a big success under their management.  They sold out after several months ago and purchased the lease on the famous Hotel Casa de Manana in La Jolla, California.  Recently they disposed of their holdings there to move to Las Vegas and take over the Nevada Biltmore hotel.” [xi]

 May, 1943, Brooks leases property to Del Mar Corporation and it’s President Hernando Courtright.

The Del Mar Corporation, its President Hernando Courtright, signed a five year lease with Brooks for Biltmore in May of 1943 for $31,000.

The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“7 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table  9 ½ by 4 ½

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141”

1 complete set checks for roulette table,

1 complete set of markers

12 Coral leather upholstered seat and back casino stools.”[xii]

 September, 1943 A. L. Leesone listed as “Manager” of Nevada Biltmore Hotel

Another change of hands for the Biltmore operation.   A display advertisement in the September 8, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal lists  “A. L. Leesone, Manager,” of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel. [xiii]

And, Leesone time in management was short.

October, 1943, Brooks announces his “return” to the Biltmore with new “Hotel Managers,” the Kehrlein’s.

Brooks announced  in the October 4, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal.

The advertisement was “announcing the return of Bob Brooks’ owner of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel.”  In addition Brooks also listed Mary and Emil Kehrlein as “Hotel Managers,” and Johnny Hughes as “casino managers.”[xiv]

Brooks takes out display advertisement September 1944  Biltmore “has not been sold and is not for sale.”

Bob Brooks, in a display advertisement in the September 8, 1944 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal declared;

“NOTICE Contrary to reports, the Nevada Biltmore Hotel has not been sold and is not for sale.  No other party or parties have any interest in the business except myself.  I am the sole owner and operator.  I have always had faith in the future of Las Vegas and I still hold that faith.  I like the people of this community and the climate and western hospitality of Southern Nevada.  Las Vegas is my home and I pledge to you good people the finest in entertainment, tasty drinks and excellent food amid comfortable surroundings.  It will be a pleasure to personally greet you and your friends. BOB BROOKS.”[xv]

A month after taking announcing the resort was not for sale, Brooks solid it.

Brooks sells Nevada Biltmore November, 1944 to G.E. Kinsey

While announcing the resort had “not been sold” Brooks was clearly in discussion to sell the property.

On November 1, 1944 Brooks along with G.E. and Mattie Kinsey filed papers with the county detailing the sale. The sale would not become public for two weeks, on November 14.

Brooks made the announcement to his staff and friends at what was described as a “farewell dinner,” on the evening of Monday, November 13, 1944. [xvi]

The general public got the official word when they picked up their morning newspaper.[xvii]

The cities two newspapers reported the “transaction” involved “properties valued in excess of $600,000.” [xviii]

By the afternoon of November 14, 1944 more details were revealed when W. H. Grunwald, representing the Kinsey’s told reporters, “We intend to make the Nevada Biltmore a real part of the city of Las Vegas.  We want to bring it into the city of Las Vegas and make it a place where the people of the community can meet and enjoy wholesome entertainment and good food.”  [xix]

Grunwald added, “as soon as the government restrictions are eased so we can get material, we expect to make improvements at the hotel.  We intend to have the Nevada Biltmore take its place alongside the other fine establishments which this community well can boast.” [xx]

As part of the deal, Brooks would acquire “the Westchester apartment hotel, a class-A, seven story structure on Pico Street in Los Angeles.” [xxi]

At the time of the sale, George Kinsey was reported to be “quite widely known in Las Vegas, having been a regular visitor to this area since 1940.  He became interested in the Las Vegas area though Bill Froelich, Ford dealer of southern California, and Frank Muller, wealthy laundry man of the Los Angeles area, who brought him her firs for a fishing trip on Lake Mead.” [xxii]

Kinsey retained Jack Walsh to run the Hotel, and Johnny Hughes, to run the gambling side of the Nevada Biltmore.  Hughes described in the Kinsey announcement as a “popular casino manager” was first hired by Brooks when he opened the resort in 1942.[xxiii]

 

 

 

 

 

Hughes, seen here in a sketch by well known Reno graphic artist Lew Hymers, would open his own place on U.S. 91, “The Players.”

 

 

 

 

A review of the casino inventory provides an inside into the scale of the gambling operation.

Based on the casino inventory it appears Kinsey added one 5 cent Bell slot machine, a console 4-bell machine,  and put in a large crap table, from a 4 ½ x 9 to a 4 ½ x 12 foot.

    The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“8 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

465-863-5 cents

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table   4 ½ x 12’

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 complete set checks for roulette table, 2 complete sets of markers.

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141

14 upholstered seat and back casino stools – upholstered in sheepskin fabric.”[xxv]

 18 months later,  in April of, 1946, Kinsey sells Nevada Biltmore to Horace Heidt, famous band leader.

“Horace Heidt, nationally famous band leader…has purchased the Nevada Biltmore hotel in Las Vegas, it was announced” Sunday, April 28, 1946 “by Thomas Campbell, who represents Kinsey in all Las Vegas operations and who handled the Biltmore deal for him.”[xxvi]

“While the purchase price was not announced, definitely, it is understood that Heidt paid George E. Kinsey, former owner $500,000 for the entire facilities.”

The band leader  told the Review Journal “Jack Walsh definitely would remain as manager of the hotel.”

Heidt immediately began looking for investors, as he had little interest in running the property.

December, 1946, Heidt Sells half Interest in Biltmore and Jack Walsh returns as General Manager of the Biltmore, Heidt reveals change in casino operation.

Horace Heidt, owner of the Nevada  Biltmore hotel, announced the week of December 19, 1946 that he had sold a half interest in the hotel to Jules Le Baron, described at the time as the son of William LeBaron, French film director working in Hollywood.[xxvii]

Heidt said he made the change because he was getting his band back together for a featured spot on a radio broadcast in 1947. [xxviii]

Heidt said at the time that he would return to Las Vegas on a regular basis to assist in the operation of the hotel. [xxix]

Heidt announced on December 19, 1946, “Jack Walsh, prominent Las Vegas hotel man, has been hired as manager of the Nevada Biltmore and will return to the duties he had earlier this year at the hotel. Walsh recently returned from Del Mar, California, where he operated the famous hostelry there.”[xxx]

Heidt also announced “Earl Jones will continue as casino manager and Joe Devereaux will be in charge of the bar as in the past, Heidt said.” [xxxi]

That quickly changed Heidt cuts deal with national known east coast nightclub operator, Frank Barbaro.

On February 5, 1947, Ralph Stoughton and Frank Barbaro signed a one year lease to operate the hotel.

The name of the entertainment area of the resort would be  changed to the “Bowery-Biltmore” to reflect Barbaro’s plans for the business. [i]

Barbaro, a Detroit nightclub owner, was in Las Vegas to get a divorce. [ii]

He billed himself as “known from coast to coast” and “your host from coast to coast.”

Barbaro said met Stoughton who came up with the idea of the two of them forming a partnership to take over the Nevada Biltmore. [iii]

 

 

 

Barbaro began advertising the resort  as “Frank Barbaro’s Bowery.”  The Biltmore Bowery opened on April 30, 1947 with Martha Raye.[iv]

 

 

As far as Barbaro got with his name change is seen in this publicity shot with Barbaro in the middle, and just above his head is the neon script letter “Barbaros Bowery.”

 

Barbaro take over made the national enternament news outlets. From “Hollywood Nite-Life” April 25, 1947, page 12, a column “Las Vegas Life” by Melba Arnold.

“Personality of the week-Frank Barbaro, affable owner of the Nevada Biltmore, has the fun-lovers jamming his night spot despite the fact that he is in the process of drastically remodeling the famous dining room.  Guests purr happily surrounded by stripped walls and raw ceilings while enjoying the sparling wit of Ben Blue and his Hollywood Revue.  The grand opening of the Bowery Room is slated for 30th of this month with Martha Raye in charge of the merrymaking.”

Page 15 of the same issue has a photograph of Barbaro with the caption, “Frank Barbaro.  Thar’s a handsome cowhard in that thar Las Vegas these days by the tag of Frank Barbaro. He hails from the fair city of Detroit where he was lord and master of the swank Bowery Café.  Mr. Barbaro recently purchased the Nevada Biltmore and immediately began doing things in a large way, namely throwing $50,000 into revamping the hotel’s boite which he will name the Bowery Café, natch.”

“Frank has appointed a well-known and much-liked gent by the name of Jack Walsh to manage his beautiful bistro.  Mr. Walsh began his duties duly by announcing the Bowery would purvey nothing but big time talent inside its portals, and to prove this he signed Ben Blue, who is now taking bows in the Bowery.  Next on the list of big acts is Martha Raye who starts April 30th.  Leo Carrillo with the Ben Yost Troupe makes their entry May 14th.  Mr. Barbaro also signed Jack Ponds, a very talented MC and comic as a regular at his sipping heaven.”

In May of 1947 Barbaro filed for divorce in Las Vegas.  His wife and children were living in Detroit.  [v]

The decree, granted by Judge A. S. Henderson, “transferred title to his million dollar” Bowery Club in Detroit to his wife and “gave her the expensive home and furnishing.” [vi]

Barbaro’s national press did little to change the direction the Biltmore was headed. That change lasted for a few months.

In its future were two more efforts to keep the resort alive.  The first step was in early 1949 provide service for the African American community, locals and tourists, who were without access to any of the major resorts.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on July 19, 1949, “the ill-fated operation of the Nevada Biltmore hotel as a colored resort for the past five weeks ended abruptly today, as the place was ordered closed by Homer W. Snowden, a stockholder of the Texas-Nevada corporation, which has attempted to operate the hostelry since May 1” 1949.[xxxii]

A full story on the short, but historic integration of the Nevada Biltmore will be featured on this site.

  Biltmore Closed by Snowden July 19, 1949 To open under new name and as a motel

A public announcement was made,  “Negotiations were underway between the former owners of the Biltmore, Louis Wiener, Jr., Mahlon Brown, James Still and Carl Amante and band leader Horace Heidt, to reopen the place as a deluxe motel.” [xxxiii]

“Weiner said if he and his partners again take over the Biltmore, the name will be changed and its operation as a hotel will cease in favor of a motel venture.  He reasoned that as the biggest motel in Las Vegas and the only one with a swimming pool, the operation would stand an excellent chance of running successfully.” [xxxiv]

It was revealed that Heidt still holds a $180,000 mortgage on the Biltmore and “does not want to operate the hotel and is instead only in a deal which will get his money out of it.” [xxxv]

Gambler, Carl Amante said “we want to make this the most unique motel in Las Vegas.”[xxxvi]

Heidt once again had direct control of the property.

One of Amante’s partners, Wiener, said he was talking with Heidt and the band leader is “coopering with us 100 percent.” [xxxvii]

The deal with Wiener and Amante’s group did not work out.

A new set of owners, and this time a name change which did not provide luck to anyone involved.

 

 

In 1948 Clem Malone, who had come to Nevada to work on the construction of Hoover Dam,ran for the Clark County Commission.

According to the Clark County Government’s official web site, Malone “easily won a seat on the commission in that election.”

The next year, 1949, Malone and others took over the Nevada Biltmore and changed the name to the Shamrock Hotel.  Malone and his partners operated it for a number of years.

Shortly after aquiring the Bilmore, Malone contacted the same Massahcutres post card company that created the pool side view, to update the title of the resort.

The name change did not allow Malone to see the evil spirits that were in his future.   Like the hotel, Malone’s political career was filled with trouble.

Again, from the official Clark County government web site, “Malone’s time on the commission was filled with contention. In 1950, he was charged with soliciting bribes from George Crockett at the airport. Malone claimed that James Cashman, Frank Gusewelle, and A.E. Cahlan were setting him up.”[vii]

In 1950, Malone filed to run for governor. He lost his bid in the primary, and then lost his county commission seat in May of 1951.

Losing is stake in the Shamrock, Malone filed bankruptcy in 1954.

The hotel would eventually become the Shamrock Furniture store.

Today a lone palm tree marks the spot of one of the “swank” hotels of Las Vegas in the 1940’s.

The Biltmore’s original builder Bob Brooks would take the money for the sale of the resort and begin buying property on what would become the Las Vegas Strip.

He and Moe Dalitz would soon become close friends.

[i] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[ii] Note the newspaper story said that Brooks said that Johnny Bush would be in charge of the casino.  The display advertisement in the same issue of the newspaper named the casino boss as Johnny Hughes, a well-known local gaming figure.

[iii] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[iv] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[v] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vi] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[viii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[ix] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[x] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xi] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xii] Clark County Miscellaneous Book 19, May 20, 1943, Nevada Biltmore, pages 408-422.

[xiii]  Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, September 8, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xiv] Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, October 4, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page five.

[xv] Display advertisement, Bob Brooks, September 8, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page eight.

[xvi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xvii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one, “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three

[xviii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one.

[xix] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xx] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxii] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiii] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiv] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxv]  Clark County Miscellaneous Book 21, November 1, 1944, Biltmore Hotel, pages 261-267.

[xxvi] “Purchases Biltmore,” April 29, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page one.

[xxvii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxviii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxix] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxx]  “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxi] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxvi]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

[xxxvii]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

Second set of footnotes with the addition of the Barbaro saga.

[i]  “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[ii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iv]  Display advertisement Nevada Biltmore, April, 1947, Las Vegas Life, page twenty.

[v] “Barbaro gets divorce here,” May 26, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page six.

[vi]  “Spectacular Barbaro career echoes heard in court suit,” May 28, 1948, Las Vegas Review Journal, page three.

[vii] http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/parks/Documents/centennial/commissioners/commissioner-c-malone.pdf

 

 

Kiel Ranch, Kiel Brothers Online Update coming in February.

Jeff Alpert, who those of you who attend the North Las Vegas City Council meetings, is a well-known name.

Alpert began several months ago closing each of the city councils meetings with details of the history of the city.

At the end of the meeting, when the Mayor asked, are there any public comments, Alpert would go to the microphone and full the three minutes of allotted time with a historic note about the community.

Alpert is no longer at the end of the meeting, he has been moved up on the agenda and has his own spot.

Working with the city, Alpert, according to reliable sources, will be posting a six part article on the Kiel brothers and their ranch.

We understand Alpert is also working on a series of stories about the colorful mayor of North Las Vegas, Horace Tucker.

As soon as we get work the historic of North Las Vegas is on the city’s web site we will let you know.

P.S.  Captain History had a sneak preview of Alert’s work.  Solid, in depth research, not relying on secondary sources.   Alpert wants readers to review his stories when they go on line and point out  any opportunities for improvement.

 

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.

Their primary use today,  the “look where I am” and “wish you were here” messages.

For decades in Las Vegas, 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.

and, in the beginning, the U.S. Post Office said, no writing on the back, except the address.  So you squeezed a few words around the edges of the front of the card.

Then Europe allowed its citizens to write a message on the left side of the back of the post card.  Soon the U.S., in 1907, also made the change.

For Las Vegas, the post cards between 1905 through the mid 1950’s show the growth of the community, from a railroad stop and farms to the growing hospitality industry in the 1930’s.

Wait, we didnt become “hospitality” until the 1990’s.  It was gambling first, then entertainment.

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

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 – https://www.unlv.edu/news/expert/claytee-d-white .

 

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.