On April 23, 1943, Frontier showed its first Big Prize Fight. The main event was "Sheik" Rangel v. Max Hutchinson. It also hosted an Easter egg hunt for all kids 2 to 8 years old in Clark County.

On September 8, 1943, Frontier hosted another war bond charity event. The headlines declared "Axis Pay-Day. Back the Attack With Bonds." The Victory Parade started at the Sal Sagev Hotel, down Fremont to Colony Club then ending at the Frontier. Anyone who bought a $500 bond would be treated to four hours of music, two hours of big entertainment, shows from all four hotels, an Army show including the Army band, as well as displays by airplanes, tanks, and guns.

Griffith died at 2:15pm, on November 24, 1943, of a heart attack at the Beverly Hills Hotel, a little over a year after the Last Frontier opened. Moore carried out his dream by overseeing and promoting the resort, as well as the projects Griffith had begun at Mt. Charleston, Hidden Valley and Warm Springs. An ad was posted in the November 27, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal paying tribute to this visionary.

Griffith Ad

Brochure pictures

In a 1940s brochure, it is plain that Moore not only advertised the resort with humor, but made sure to include all activities for the tourist. #1 - Ride Horseback night or day - under the desert moon or on mountain trails. Join guests parties for picnics, steak-frys, wiener roasts and desert clam-bakes at nearby Dude Ranches or at picturesque pine, spruce and fir shaded Mount Charleston; #2 - Swim year 'round - our pools, Lake Mead beach or icy Colorado river. Stroll through fifteen acres of beautified grounds over 20 blocks of driveways and walks. Bask in the desert sun on numerous sundecks and private solariums adjoining shady, rambling ranch porches; #3 - Nevada's Famous Ramona Room - Dine and dance in the picturesque, rustic Ramona Room to the music of famous orchestras. See and hear your favorite entertainers of stage, screen, radio and nightclub fame. A snack or lunch on Wagon Wheel Terrace - breakfast or brunch in the modern Canary Room, both adjoining the Ramona Room; #4 - Club "21" Casino - The Caliente of Nevada. Your favorite game of chance (legal in Nevada only) from noon till ---? Vegas has dozens of hotel, nightclub and downtown casinos for variety. You see woodsman, sportsman, miner, rancher, movie star, divorcee, artist, writer, real cowboys and dud wrangler, pioneer, doctor, lawyer - the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, all mingling at various night spots.

Brochure pictures Set 2

#1 - Splashed in the sunshine of your desert dreams . . . Hotel Last Frontier recaptures the glories of the Golden West in the spirit of now. Located in the last frontier town where something is doing every minute. Come as you are - relax as you will - for this is truly America's own - The Hotel Last Frontier; #2 - The Little Church of the West, on the grounds of Hotel Last Frontier, though new is becoming the West's most famous marriage chapel. Open 24 hours a day. Organ music. Horse-drawn wedding coach to drive bride and groom through the town. Arrangements to have church and altar banked with flowers; #3 - Fishing - no closed season. Lake Mead, world's largest man-made lake above Boulder Dam, and the icy Colorado river below. The best fresh-water fishing in U.S. Bass from 6 to 12 lbs., trout from 2 to 4 lbs., caught daily. Our hotel holds annual monthly tournament, the Fishathon, with $5,000 in awards to daily, weekly and grand award winners; #4 - Duck, Dove and Quail hunting from our Dude Ranch or Hunting Lodge. 2,500 acres of private hunting grounds and private lakes two hours from Hotel. Fishing nearby between bag-limits. Deer hunting from camp or pack trips two hours from Hunting Lodge. Our sportsman correspondent will give details on request.

Charleston Lodge Charleston Lodge
These are two pictures I found labelled "Mt. Charleston Lodge of Hotel Last Frontier"

"[The hunting] was in Utah. The guides were available, and we'd get hold of the people and let them plan a trip with these guides. As an illustration, there was a banker out of the Midwest that used to come out here every year and stay three months at least, sometimes as much as five months. He was retired, so that he had a lot of time on his hands; there were others out of wealthy families in the East that came on the same basis. They would commission the guides, and they would set up planned trips to go on these various hunts or fishing or whatnot, and they made their own deals. Only time we entered into it was to be sure that the people were not being robbed in the fees that they were having to pay these people. We didn't draw anything out of it, never intended to draw anything out of it; it was just an accommodation to the guests." - William Moore, August, 1981

Moore was one of the first people who hired planes to fly the entertainment as well as gamblers to his resort. He decided to book flights with a small airline owned by Kirk Kerkorian, the future owner of the International and MGM Grand.

Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian

"We started the first airplane promotion inducing people for a reduced fee, to come to Las Vegas. They bought their ticket in Los Angeles or in Detroit or in Dallas or whatnot, and we made a deal with the individual operators. One of the people we made a deal with, as an illustration, is Kirk Kerkorian, who later turned up in Las Vegas in the hotel business, built what is now the Hilton Hotel. . . . He was in the business of transportation and owned quite a number of airplanes. [He] was in a position to buy quite a number of others at a very reduced rate. . . . But we didn't deal with Kerkorian directly. In other words, he had somebody working for him that we dealt with. . . . [The promotion] included a room; it included a certain number of meals. It included the transportation to and from, all at a price - a very reduced one. We originally started it on the buses. The buses were slow . . . After we got that started, we decided, well, we can make a deal on the airplane. So we made a deal. Naturally, we're not going to be the only fish in the pond, so others were forced to go into it, which they did do." - William Moore, August, 1981

The "Little Church of the West" was on the Frontier grounds. A quaint and romantic spot amid dramatic western surroundings, where many famous marriage ceremonies had been performed. Religious services of special occasions were conducted here. The only building on the Strip to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was the brainchild of Moore. Moore and one of the best photographers in Las Vegas thought the chapel would be a nice touch to add to the Strip. With its redwood interior and cedar exterior, the Little Church, which has been photographed countless times over the years, has evolved into one of the most recognizable landmarks on the Strip. This church was built of California redwood and was an authentic replica of a little church built in a pioneer town in California.

Little Church of the West

The Little Church of the West saw its share of weddings both real and in the movies. The Little Church witnessed the real weddings of Harry James and Betty Grable in 1943, and Judy Garland and Mark Herron in 1965, as well as the weddings of Arlene Dahl and Fernando Llamas, and Deanna Durbin and Felix Jackson. It also witnessed the weddings of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mickey Rooney, Robert Goulet, Bob Geldof, Dudley Moore and Mel Torme. Included in its make-believe weddings was Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret's wedding in the 1964 film, "Viva Las Vegas", which was actually filmed in 1963.

"When we first opened the hotel, there was quite a number of marriage and divorces. And it was quite a part of the business that existed in Las Vegas. In other words, the divorcees would come and live here to six weeks, and naturally they spent what money they had to spend, and it became a part of the operation in Las Vegas. There were a number of marriages, and it was promoted quite thoroughly at the time. We thought, because of the old churches that we had seen in western towns still existing in California and Nevada, old churches that still existed and were in operation, that we could make a church a part of the wedding chapel business. Most of the wedding chapels had the interior of a chapel or church, but the exteriors were usually an old home or a part of another structure of some kind. There were probably as many as 25 or 30 in the town. {They} were all over town, but principally [on] lead-in roads into the town and out of the town. They existed on what is known as the Boulder Highway, or Fremont Street, and Highway 91, which was Fifth Street. It's now known as Las Vegas Boulevard North and South.

I went to California and took numerous pictures of an old church that existed and was in operation, and then brought the pictures back and induced Zick and Sharp to reduce them down in size using the whole scale of the church and the measurements that I took at the time I took the pictures, so they became a miniature of the actual church in operation in the state of California. They did make the drawings and we got out maintenance crew at the hotel to build it according to the drawings that they made on a miniature basis. Then [we] hired a wedding chapel director or employee to handle the various weddings. . . . Originally we tried to do it in conjunction with the publicity department of the hotel. I believe the original director of the chapel was a girl by the name of Jerrie Wycoff, who was in charge of the publicity at the hotel when we first opened the chapel. That was the first wedding chapel that was constructed specifically to be a wedding chapel; the rest were renovated buildings and make-dos." - William Moore, August, 1981

In the early 1940s, there weren't any freeways as they exist under today's standards. Every time it would snow on the mountain passes, all traffic would stop. Moore used to go around and tell the employees to park out in front of the hotel as he went to the second floor to turn on the lights in some of the rooms so it would look like people were in the resort. The Frontier would be deserted but they made it look like there were people staying there.

A story of the Frontier centered around the World War II. During the war, the resort had an arrangement with the military to take care of groups of officers and soldiers suffering from battle fatigue. One time, an admiral sent a group of about 50 officers, soldiers, and seamen to the Frontier and directed the hotel's management - "Don't shoot off any weapons of any kind near these men. They are very sensitive." The group was staying there during the city's annual Helldorado celebration. As a stunt, deputy Sheriff C.D. Stuart, in spite of Moore's pleading not to do it, rode his horse right into the casino and started firing his six-shooter, loaded with blanks. The boys went crazy and squared off against anyone near them when they heard the shots. One customer was knocked clear across a crap table.

Another story was there had been a run on the Frontier's casino of $1 million in only three day's time. With the bankroll nearly exhausted, Moore called Farmer Paige who operated the Pioneer Club downtown asking for help. Paige told Moore to go down to the Pioneer's cashier's cage and take whatever he needed. Moore counted out $500,000 and wanted to give Paige an IOU which Paige refused to accept stating a gentlemen's agreement would be fine. Moore made sure the money was returned within one week.

The Frontier had only one security guard who worked part time. The reason for this was that the dealers carried concealed guns in their shoes or on their hips.

Frontier was to be the mainstay for the world famous aviator Howard Hughes whenever he went to Vegas. Rumor has it that his love for Vegas was born and grew during his frequent stays at this resort.

Heldorado Float Heldorado Float
The Frontier would enter floats in the annual Helldorado Parade
Donated by Beverly Phillips

In December of 1943, Frontier hosted The Christmas Story of Bethlehem in the Little Church of the West. All children were invited, free of charge, to the life-size outdoor reproduction of the biblical scene of the manger in Bethlehem. Narrations were performed by the Reverend F.C. Carpenter. The show also featured Spillers Trained Seals in the swimming pool.

Sophie Tucker at Frontier

In January of 1945, the Frontier hired Art O'Donnell, former assistant manager of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, as manager of the resort. Burt King had left to pursue personal business ventures. The Assistant Manager was Don Thomas and Moore's assistant was Joe Schram.

On January 14, 1945, a rodeo was given in the Frontier's 3,000 seat El Corral Arena. Trick Rider Bob Rooker and his Palomino Silver Bow was the main attraction and clown Frankie Chitwood and his "Horse Whirligig In a Circus of Laughs". Sheriff Glen Jones challenged his deputies to a roping event and participants could win cash purses for "Bronc Riding", "Bull-Dogging", "Wild Brahma Steer Riding" "Bare-Back Riding", and "Steer-Roping". The judges were Fire Chief Harold Case, and Pete Person, and Doc Ladd was the Master of Ceremonies. Sponsoring this rodeo along with the Frontier was General Auto Parts and Yellow Cab Co. The concession was run by the Women's Ambulance Defense Corps with $1.20 for general admission, $.90 for anyone in the military and $.60 for children.

For President's Birthday on January 30, 1945, Frontier was offering a celebration with Jimmy Joy & his Orchestra, Milton Douglas, Priscilla, song-stars of Spike Jones' City Slickers Nilsson Twins and juggler on wheels Ray Royce in its Ramona Room. A replica of the White House was made and was auctioned off to benefit the Infantile Paralysis Fund. The slogan was "a piece of cake will help to make some child walk again".

In February of 1945, Frontier transformed its Ramona Room for its new show "George Arnold's Spectacular Ice Revue". This show starred George Arnold, Ice Follies Star Jeanie Sook, Icecapades Starring The Brinkman Sisters. Included were the segments The Four Ice Cube-ettes and Musical Fantasies On Ice.

On May 17, 1945, Frontier hosted a "Buy War Bonds" party themed "Circus Bond Party". Dale Evans and Diana Lewis attended the benefit with the entire hotel personnel dressed in circus costumes.

Research has shown that the Hotel Last Frontier was the first actress on the Strip. She made an appearance in the 1946 movie Heldorado.

Due to the hotel's popularity, 65 rooms were added.

On November 10, 1945, Nevada Tax Commission ordered the Frontier to pay damages after having been charged with paying their employees in excess of federal wage ceilings. (How about that, being fined for paying your employees too much!)

In July of 1946, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel stayed in Room 401 at the resort while purchasing Billy Wilkerson's property which would later be known as the Flamingo. The FBI placed wiretapping at the resort and Siegel's room to trace Siegel's actions.

On September 17, 1946, Siegel had parked his vehicle in the Frontier's parking lot. His girlfriend, Virginia Hill, accidently depressed the accelerator causing the car to lurch forward. In bringing the car under control Siegel hit his face on the steering wheel, causing a jaw injury. Siegel was treated by his brother Dr. Maurice Siegel, who stated his injury was slight.

It was reported that in 1946, Frontier started the first lounge act with the Mary Kaye Trio.

Frontier at Night

Cabs in Front

In 1947, the Frontier's address was just Los Angeles Highway, and its phone number was simply 1800. Yellow Cab Company outlined the front waiting for riders. Their phone number was 4.


During this era, Frontier combined swimming and gambling.

The Last Frontier Village conceived by Moore in 1947, was also part of the hotel's complex. Robert "Doby Doc" Caudill, a millionaire gambler, started collecting Nevada antiques in 1914. Doc had stored more than 900 tons of relics in 1,700 packing boxes in two warehouses in Elko, Nevada. Mechanical pianos, guns of all types, lamps, chamber pots, Indian artifacts, a complete printing press, and even a worn-out bustle from one of the mining camp's most prominent madams were part of Doc's treasures. Doc moved his treasures to the Last Frontier Village which cost $37,000 in freight charges. I do not know whether Doc or Bill Moore paid the freight charges. Doc was often seen at the village talking with people, acting as curator, regarding his collection and was known as the Managing Director of the Western Village.

Caudillo Doby Doc

Entrance to Last Frontier Village Frontier Village Village

"The Last Frontier Village was to induce additional customers to come to the hotel and to include additional customers to come to Las Vegas. We knew of old, early-Nevada trains, various and sundry operating equipment, old stores, jails, so forth and so on that had been collected by a fellow by the name of Robert Caudill of Elko, Nevada, who had gotten the name of Doby Doc. Where he got the name I do not know, but everybody called him Doby, and nobody knew him by the name of Robert Caudill. But that was his actual name. [On] various trips to Elko for state hotel conventions and so forth, I had seen the various collections that Caudill had gotten together. It was stored in his own warehouse and/or yard. It had not been put together; it was not on display.

It was there in a very junk condition. I'd happened to see it principally because I was interested in Nevada history and, you might say, old western history, and I'd felt for a long time that most of the old relics in Nevada had been allowed to deteriorate and sold out to other areas, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles and St. Louis, Missouri, and so forth and so on. There had been nothing done to try and preserve the old Nevada collection, such as collections having to do with the early railroads, collections having to do with the Indian costumes and dress, old gold collections, old car collections and so forth. We we started creating that whole street or village as it would have existed in Nevada or any other part of the west, but principally in Nevada, and attempted to display all the stuff in a museum-usable fashion, so that it could be displayed in public and the public would be allowed to see it and use it and actually were not to be charged for viewing it.

It was an advertising method in order to induce people to come to the hotel and stay there, patronize the hotel, patronize the village. We actually operated two bars and a gambling casino and a couple of restaurants. We had an old carousel, old original-type circus equipment, which did not come out of Doby's collection. We did display his engines and trains and attempted to repaint them and decorate them as they were originally done at the time they were in actual operation in Nevada." - William Moore, August, 1981

By private contract, this massive collection was incorporated into the Last Frontier. It included several authentic buildings as well as a mining train he acquired in 1934 which was originally a part of the Pioche-Pacific Railroad. This engine saw service between Rabbit Hole and Pioche, a distance of 13 miles. The engine was of a cog-wheel type, capable of climbing a 45 degree grade, a type of engine seldom seen. With it were two box cars and a caboose from the Nevada Central and Central Pacific roads.


In addition to this train, the train exhibit consisted of anything from a quarter-pound spike to a complete narrow gauge passenger train with its engine, baggage car and two coaches. One of the most photographed trains was a combination of Eureka and Pallisades, and Union Pacific engine, a baggage car and two coaches.

Four Frontier pics

The baggage car of this train was reputed to have carried over $30 million in gold, silver, and lead bullion from the rich Eureka mining area to Palisades on the Central Pacific railroad. Construction of the Eureka and Palisades railroad was started in 1873 by W.L. Prichard who had operated a wagon freight business but in 1875, the railroad was still 36 miles away from Eureka. Darious Ogden purchased it for $1.5 million and then completed the final 36 miles which linked Eureka to the Central Pacific at Palisades. The first locomotive named Tybo puffed into Eureka on October 22, 1875. When mining fell off in 1883, the railroad saved Eureka from a ghost town fate. Eureka then served the whole central part of Nevada.

The last coach of the train was among the first used by the Union Pacific. In this coach was a replica of the gold spike which was driven at Promontory Point, Utah, when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads met to span the continent.

The exhibit also held box cars and a caboose from such railroads as the Nevada Central which linked Battle Mountain to Austin, the Eureka and Palisades and the Central Pacific.

Covered Wagon

Another exhibit consisted of covered wagons with prairie schooners or Conestoga wagons dating back to 1845. These wagons crossed the continent from New England to Missouri to Fort Levenworth along the immigrant trail across Nevada to California. The name Conestoga is derived from the town in which it was manufactured in Pennsylvania.

1911 Stutz Bearcat 1904 Stoddard Dayton

Vintage automobiles occupied another section of the town. This collection included a 1911 Stutz Bearcat and 1904 Stoddard Dayton which was used by an early Nevada country doctor.

Cable car

A replica of an old San Francisco cable car picked up visitors and brought them around the Village.

Tuscarora Jail

Moore procured entire buildings taken from older towns, including the Tuscarora Jail, and a Joss house for the Chinese who worked on the railroad. The Joss House was reported to be the oldest Chinese house of worship in the United States and was used by thousands of Chinese. History of this house of worship dated back to the 1860s when it was constructed in Elko, Nevada. It was reported that every article and symbol of religion and fraternity were made and blessed in China, then brought to this country. During the building of the first transcontinental railroad, the structure served as a worshiping place for Chinese laborers employed in the construction of the rail artery.

Joss House

Actually, Elko was, at that time, the Chinese capital of the West. It was the engineering ingenuity of these Chinese that resulted in the first water system in Elko, a part of which is still in use today. The unique project involved the driving of tunnels in the mountain to tap veins of water, then the fashioning of home made wooden pipes to bring the precious water to the town.

The peculiar architectural design of the church is significant. Chinese students pointed out that sevens and twelves are characteristic units of worship. The main church building had seven rafters or supporters, and the rising sun flag in front of the building had the twelve points.

Joss House

The Joss House had names of the church members painted on its walls. It also contained a shrine of band carved in teak wood. Chinese worship robes were hung in the building. A similar building was destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake. The portrait that hung on the shrine was of Kwan Ti, God of Marital Virtue, which according to available information, was painted during the Ming dynasty. It was contributed to the church by Hi Loy, a respected citizen of the early Elko Chinese colony. The teakwood plaques with gold leaf borders, the silk standards and vestments, all hand made and embroidered with real gold threads to represent religious characters and symbols, the urns and candle sticks and other religious paraphernalia, blended into the charm of this shrine.

The original lamps, which were lit by electricity, were kept burning with Tung oil shipped from China. Inside the foyer were ceremonial spears, reportedly only permitted to leave the church for funeral processions.

Two smaller rooms, one on either side of the main room, contained many interesting symbols and articles. One room was for the custodian and the other for visiting priests. A visit to the custodian's room reminded one of the story handed down to Elko Chinese. The position was considered of great importance and highly sought. It was won when an enormous paper balloon was released into the air carrying an inscribed ring of office. Hundreds of Chinese pursued the flight until the balloon descended. The lucky ring finder then became custodian for the interval until the next Chinese New Year.

Village Museum Museum & Saloon

Also incorporated into the Village was the Frontier Museum & Saloon. This museum bar contained the $100,000 antique rifle and pistol collection of Caudill and Harry Mann. There were unique specimens dating back as early as 1400AD, ranging in size from an 1844, 25 pound elephant rifle carried in the Stanley-Livingston expedition to dainty pearl-handled ladies' muff pistols. Among the "freaks" were a seven-barrel goose gun, cane guns, Arabian chieftains' guns, a six foot long camel rider's rifle which had a five foot long barrel, and several early whaling guns. An exceptional piece was a gold plated 1860 Henry "sixteen shooter" once owned by Texas Ranger Captain Sam King. This type rifle was described colorfully by a Confederate solider as "the damn Yankee rifle that loads on Monday and shoots 'til Friday." The gun was once loaned to Paramount Studios for use in the picture "Arizona."

Juke Box
Juke Box

The museum also contained relics that ranged from per-historic Indian artifacts to a propeller from the first mail plane downed in Nevada, with all years in between represented. Items included one of the first manufactured baby carriages shipped over land by wagon train, a surveyor's transit used to make the first state public land survey, antique juke boxes, doll collections, early maps, currency and cancelled checks.

muff pistol

Village Playhouse

On the property was also the Village Playhouse. This playhouse was built in 1905 as a warehouse and store by the Ed W. Clark Forwarding Company, handling all the freight by mule to Searchlight, Goodsprings, Rawhide, Beatty, Goldfield and Tonapah. One play which appeared at the playhouse was Ladies in Retirement.

Ladies in Retirement

Toll House

Haven for the weary traveler was this old Toll House, which stood in Elko County, NV, in the 1860's. Payment for use of its facilities usually consisted of articles for which the traveler had the least need. Travelers heading east paid off in gold nuggets or small bags of gold dust.

Fire Bell

The Frontier also contained the fire bell which played a vital role in the history of the early west. Harbinger of both good and bad tidings, the bell was cast by W.T. Garrett and Company of San Francisco in February 1890. It was unique in that 600 silver dollars were cast with the brass and bronze to give the bell a more beautiful tone. The $600 was collected by the Elko citizenry from local saloons and gambling houses. According to history, the bell rang for disastrous fires, deaths of celebrities, and celebrations.


In the Dance Hall there was a mural of the old west that covered an entire wall.

"There's quite a story of an old scene in a gambling house. The scene was painted of a woman that had had too much to drink arguing with the bartender over additional booze. Some of us felt that maybe it was carrying things a little bit to strong, in that it occupied one whole end of the bar, to depict the woman in as bad shape. The painter agreed to stop the painting, but if he did then, naturally, the painting would have to come off the wall. He insisted on painting it as he had originally made the deal; he was to have complete charge of the subject matter, and nobody was to interfere. Naturally, we didn't want to do away with the picture, so we let him continue. It was well-executed and a good artist's [portrayal] of a western scene and western characters and things that actually did happen in the early days in not only Las Vegas but all western communities.

We later found out why he insisted on going forth. He stated that the picture of the woman, while it didn't depict his wife in the way she looked, was actually depicting his wife in the fact that she had become an alcoholic and was getting worse and worse. If, when he had finished the picture and received the final commission on it, he hadn't been able to talk her into doing something about, then he was going to put her in an institution with a major portion of the money and get out of town to another location. He did later talk his wife into joining Alcoholics Anonymous." - William Moore, August, 1981

showgirl with papier mache figure girl w/2 of the figures

Throughout the village guests would see life-like papier mache figures of Flat Rack Jack, Rabbit Sam, Sheriff Bill McGee, Poker Pete and a chinaman, all created by Bob Loden. Drawing only upon his mental picture of what type characters would be found in the early days of Nevada, he created these figures.

Sheriff McGee used to stand guard outside an old school house which stood on Kerns Ranch in Elko County approximately 100 years before that was donated by singer/actor Bing Crosby. Loden also created all the signs that were found throughout the Village.

old school house

The Village contained a Leather Shop which was owned and operated by Joseph E. Heillgers which sold wallets, purses, belts, moccasins and the like. The items were created locally as well as in Kingman. There was also a candy shop owned and operated by Katy and Don which specialized in old-time candies brewed to coincide with the theme of the Village. Other shops in the Village were Wood's Maple House, and Fanny's Clothes.

Pony riding Children ride

Children were not ignored on the Frontier. A childrens' playground area included a merry-go-round, pony rides, miniature train rides, small electric cards and other amusements.

Gas station

A completely modern Texaco gas station was created as an early western fire house of 1856, which was operated by William "Andy" Anderson. On display was a hand-pulled fire engine. The carriage was supported by four large wood-spoked wheels and had a revolving drum in the center of wood, brass and nickel. Showers were available to tourists. What attracted the greatest number of visitors was the brilliant neon-light sign over the gas station canopy. It depicted horses drawing a pumper, even to smoke belching from the stack, with two firemen aboard.

Horse Drawn Pump

A horse-drawn pumper stood at the front of the building. This was the first piece of fire equipment west of the Mississippi and was hauled piece by piece in covered wagons to Virginia City. It cost $4,000 and dated back to 1893. After service in Virginia City, Reno, and Fallon, it was purchased by the Frontier Village.

"We built the building. It was a replica of that particular period. It was not a replica of a filling station. In other words, the design was of a particular period. . . . It was designed by [Walter] Zick and [Harris] Sharp, Las Vegas architects. Originally, because Texaco had [been] using a fire chief, old, you might say, western-type advertising on their stations and promotions, we felt that it was a good tie-in for the Last Frontier Village. We had Zick and Sharp design a structure using the period-type architecture that tied in with the old fire engine and tied in with Texaco's advertising. They came up with the design, and after several changes it was adapted to the particular structure and later built. What you were referring to when you said individual type of promotion, we went to Texaco with the idea. Part of the idea was to put showers, restrooms and so forth that would be inducive to the people cleaning up after a drive across the desert. These restrooms were rather elaborate, quite a number of stools and lavatories, various types of equipment that we could use in promotion, where the people would have the service that could be advertised on the road. . . . The station itself was a rather costly station compared to the average station that's built today. But we felt that it was worth it at the time, and I still do feel that it was a good promotion. . . . We leased the land to Texaco originally. They in turned leased it back to the company for a dollar a year. In turn, our company built the station, put the signs on; Texaco furnished the equipment in the dollar-a-year lease, such as the gasoline pumps and the equipment in the pair facility, they're called, I believe, bays in the filling station trade. They were, as I remember, full bays with automatic lifts and so forth, making it a modern filling station in today's operation. And we used the old horse-drawn fire engine that Texaco had used in their advertising. The fire engine belong to Doby Doc, but we didn't use the fire engine as the sign. We had a sign company build a sign for the top of the marquee over the filling station. It was both electrical bulbs and neon, and a very fancy sign showing the old horse-drawn vehicles. The horses were painted on the sign and so forth. It became part of the advertising.

Then we leased the operation to an operator on a gall-lease basis and were able to get, because of the facilities that we furnished, approximately $.03 a gallon for the final lease on the station. The station was one of the very few on the highway at that particular time and did a substantial business at $.02-1/2 to $.03 per gallon of gasoline pumped; it became a very profitable part of the operation.

We leased it to a fellow by the name of Andy Anderson, a local boy here, who's dead now. He was a big, very jovial fellow. He liked the idea of operating the station and entered into all of the promotions that he could enter into, using the old fire engine that we had leased from Doby Doc. While it was no horse-drawn, it was, you might say, a truck-drawn vehicle, it was of a type that was similar to the type of equipment that was originally horse-drawn. - William Moore, August, 1981

Hose Cart

Also on display was an early Tompkins hand-drawn hose cart which dates back 130 years. The carriage was supported by four large wood-spoked wheels and had a revolving drum in the center trimmed in hand-engraved German silver.

The Village had more than 30 stores in its complex as well as casinos like the Silver Slipper which housed the town's first convention facility on the second floor.

In 1947, the annual Helldorado parade took place. Photographers had a field day at the Frontier taking pictures of the celebrities who congregated at the Frontier, including Alice Faye and her husband Phil Harris, Clara Bow and her husband Rex Bell, Chester Lauck (Lum of the famous radio team Lum 'n Abner), and Roy Rogers. They also took pictures of Frontier President William Moore and the float of the Little Church of the West in front of the real thing.

Alice Faye Rex Harrison Church on Float next to real Church
Rex Bow Clara Bell Chester Lauck Roy Rogers
William Moore

In February of 1949, Frontier announced that was spending a minimum of $250,000 for the construction and expansion of her western "ghost town" village.

Ilona MasseyApril, 1949

Huseth/Williams Wedding
Huseth Williams wedding

In mid-1947, Herbert Huseth and Dorothy Mae Williams decided to get married at the Little Church of the West.

"We came to Las Vegas to get married because we had heard about all the atmosphere" - Herbert Huseth, June/July, 1947

Church Sign

Accordingly, Dorothy Mae Williams from Los Angeles made reservations at the Hotel Last Frontier. Through the wedding bureau at the hotel, they bought a $25 wedding at the Little Church of the West which included a five-minute ceremony and a ride around the block in a stagecoach. It was reported that the Little Church along with some other chapels, marry 60 couples a day. It was also stated that Las Vegas divorces 20 couples a day as well. The average price for a wedding was $65 and $1,285 for a divorce.


The Huseths stand outside the church leaning on a sign covered with names of celebrities who were married there. These names are Dorothy Elizabeth Nesbitt & Ed Wynn, Anne Shirley & Adrian Scott, Sandra Lucas & Alan Curtis, Lois Andrews & David Street, Better Furness & Hugh Bue Ernst, Betty Grable & Harry James, Deanna Durbin & Felix Jackson, Nancy Kelly & Fred Jackman, Louis Burns & Lou Erlich, Sheila Ryan & Alan Lane, Arlene Judge & Norman Ryan, and Patricia Barham & Robert Walder.

In the late 1940s, Frontier held her own different kind of beauty contest.

Herb McDonald, who worked at the El Rancho Vegas, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Club Bingo, and Sahara stated that for just $2.00, a dinner was served with a New York steak, huge salad, and Shrimp cocktail. McDonald also stated that since there were only two hotels on the Strip then, the resorts would hire people to work part time such as carpenters, school teachers, construction workers, and other non-casino professions.

Stage Coach

In the late 1940s, Little Church of the West had two functions - one was for religious, and the other was the studio for the radio show Lum n' Abner.

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