GOLDFIELD HOTEL

 

GOLDFIELD DAILY TRIBUNE
 
PIONEER DAILY OF GOLDFIELD DISTRICT

Largest Circulation of Any Daily in Nevada
 
  A M U S E M E N T S

Hippodrome

     Tonight at the Hippodrome will be given a double vaudeville bill. The management has secured a "Texas Tommy" team from the Pantages circuit which will open an engagement tonight. This team comes recommended by Chas. L. Cole, the assistant manager of the Pantages theater of San Francisco. The "Texas Tommy" is by all odds the best of the freak dances that have blossomed forth so plentifully this year. As seen on the stage, it is clean and catchy and demands a good deal more of both foot and headwork than all others put together. It is a bit of a romp, and looks highly exhilarating. The latest freak of the "Texas Tommy" is that it is danced in the bare feet.
     Chief Eagle Horse, the baritone singer still continues to please the large audiences and will tonight sing three exceptionally good songs which are bound to please any critic. The pictures are becoming better each day as the management is doing all in their power to please its patrons. The pictures tonight are dramas and comedies which are sure to please.

 

I became involved with the hotel when I forwarded queries from a prospective buyer of the property to Ben Viljoen,  County Commissioner Chair for Esmeralda County, Nevada in 2002.  

Due to the actions of ill-informed and negligent former occupants of the hotel  -  they were not purposely negligent but this does not excuse the matter -  the basement experiences moisture damage intermittently and the water has damaged most of the modern elevator equipment that was installed in the hotel after 1985.   Unfortunately the people that caused this damage actually thought that their modifications to the basement would contribute to salvaging and restoring the hotel, and this is a very clear example of how people with good intentions cause a great deal of harm to an historic building.

Property speculators with properties surrounding the hotel have paid their back taxes to the County, which means that space for parking near the hotel is in hands other than the County. It is believed by certain parties that the payment of these back taxes was made to prevent a large casino from taking an interest in the hotel -  a casino purchase of the hotel would have totally altered the complexion of the town.

The roof is in bad shape and certain structural work needs to be undertaken, especially with regard to the upper floors. The County will not countenance partial restoration of the building. In addition the County will not allow a reduction of the building, for example in removing an upper floor, or demolishing a wing to make the building smaller and more manageable; from a legacy point of view this is laudable. From a historical point of view it will now be virtually impossible to restore the hotel to something like the state that it was in circa 1910.

All of the old fixtures have been sold, including the sinks and bathtubs. Much of the original woodwork has been stolen, destroyed, or is otherwise missing or sold. Evidently the action to sell off the fixtures within the hotel originated with a "caretaker" of the building in the late 1960's and this caretaker was eventually dismissed, however significant damage to Nevada's historic heritage had already been done.  In conjunction with the appointment of this crooked caretaker, the exact legacy of hotel ownership is unknown but a certain Maurice Silman would certainly have many questions to answer today if he were still alive. 

One hope for the hotel was that the state of Nevada would take an interest in it, however Nevada has a very poor record with regard to maintaining it's historical treasures, and that hope is now dead. Even though the Goldfield Hotel is the most prominent symbol of the former glory of Nevada's largest city in 1910, the state evidently fails to grasp the significance of this structure, not just for Nevadans, but for people all over the world.

If Goldfield is ever to move on from it's present status of mixed old junkyard with a handful of historic buildings  - inhabited by those who still dream of a booming and glorious past - then that occurrence must rely on the sort of miracle the townspeople do not want... and in this author's view, quite justifiably so. 

Common Myths Regarding the Hotel

"Teddy Roosevelt Spoke from the Balcony of the Hotel"

Research on the origin of this modern myth is patchy, and difficult to identify the exact origin of this presidential misinformation.  The association with regard to dispatch of Federal troops to Goldfield in 1907 (to quell a miner's strike, probably unlawfully in light of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878) caused a link to be formed in the public's perception, but the Teddy Roosevelt Historical Foundation and the Nevada Historical Society report that Teddy never ever visited Goldfield in his lifetime.

Besides this early association in public perception, an artist named Jan Van Matre produced a postcard of the hotel with a line drawing of the hotel on the front and a description of the hotel on the back and the postcard claims that Roosevelt spoke form the balcony; however we know that speech was never given and the information on the postcard is false, therefore we must assume some enterprising sort in the town lied to Van Matre to boost the town's reputation. Like the hotel "ghosts" themselves, we can truly say that if  Roosevelt ever did give a speech at the hotel, it was in spirit only.

"The First Electric Elevator West of the Mississippi"

by Guy Rocha, Nevada State Archivist

An Associated Press (AP) story ran in Nevada newspapers late in 1995 that claimed, among other things, that the Goldfield Hotel "boasts the first electric elevator built west of the Mississippi."

The aging Goldfield Hotel was again for sale and an article first appearing in the Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle Standard clearly mistook myth for reality. Folklore was again promoted as fact with the tired claims that Wyatt Earp worked at the hotel and President Teddy Roosevelt stayed there after its completion in 1908. However, now the story's writer went so far as to repeat the fallacious assertion that somehow the Goldfield Hotel was equipped with an electric elevator before hotels in St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, and San Francisco, to name but a few cities much larger than Goldfield's 25,000 peak population.

What makes the claim all the more preposterous was that the electric elevator was first used commercially in 1889 in New York City. Goldfield was not established as a mining camp until 1902 and the Goldfield Hotel would not come along for another six years. Why wouldn't cities west of the Mississippi have electric elevators installed in their buildings long before 1908?

I called the Otis Elevator Company Historic Archives in Farmington, Connecticut as the Otis firm pioneered the new technology. The corporate archivist told me that the first electric elevator west of the Mississippi was sold to a party in Spokane, Washington on September 12, 1890. Continuing his review of their sales records, the archivist noted that Los Angeles and Oakland got their first elevators in 1892, and the first one in San Francisco was at the Alcazar Hotel in 1893. Goldfield may have had the first electric elevator in Nevada, although the Otis Company records are incomplete in that time period, and there was some type of elevator operating at the Casey Hotel in Goldfield in 1907.

 These myths have been making the rounds for years and are kept alive in newspaper morgue files, chamber of commerce materials, amateur "history" publications, and so on. Making matters worse, these stories find their way into the schoolroom and are unknowingly passed off as history rather than folklore or legend.

Beware the claim that something or somebody was first, last, youngest, or oldest. More often than not, it isn't true!

 

Panic of 1907!