Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wendover Will

The first thing that grabs you when you drive into West Wendover, NV (population 4,721) is Wendover Will, a 90 foot high mechanical cowboy, the tallest in the world. With over ¼ of mile in neon lighting tubes, I wish that I had been there at night to see him lit up. Will came into existence in 1952 to help pull people off of the Lincoln Highway which ran through town.

As we drove over the Silver Zone Pass at 5,940 feet, the town of West Wendover, NV and Wendover, UT began to come into view. And, just beyond the twin cities lies the Bonneville Salt Flats. More on them tomorrow but what was an incredible site was how the nature of the Great Basin Desert combined with the Salt Flats; one can actually see the curvature of earth. I was told, that the phenomenon is even more pronounced at night when you can see the lineal trail of headlights travelling west on I-80. I’ll have to get back to see that!

West Wendover is a gambling town with charter flights from the Midwest helping to fill its 1,800 motel rooms and six casinos. Recently a 1,000 seat concert hall was constructed at a cost of $21 million, bringing in such acts as Gretchen Wilson, REO, Randy Travis, America, Amy Grant, Bill Engvall, Lee Ann Womack, Smash Mouth, The Guess Who, Sawyer Brown, Gary Allan, David Spade and Willie Nelson.

West Wendover has made history a number of times. On June 17, 1914, AT&T erected the last of 130,000 telephone poles that finally allowed a transcontinental telephone conversation. In the first call ever, Alexander Graham Bell was in NYC, his one-time assistant Thomas Watson was in San Francisco, the president of AT&T was on Jekyll Island, GA and President Woodrow Wilson was at the White House. Bell picked up the phone and asked Watson, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” repeating his very first phone call. Watson, in SF, responded, “It would take me a week now.”

The Wendover Air Base was constructed at the start of WWII and trained over 1,000 bomber crews during the war. The most famous of those was the crew of the Engola Gay and Bock’s Car which dropped the only nuclear bombs in history. That’s my tour guides in Elko County, Elaine Barkdull Spencer and Stacy Sawyer in front of a replica of that first atomic bomb.


Twelve Mile Circle said...

I enjoyed your article on Wendover Will and the town of West Wendover, so much so that I put a link to your page from one of my recent blog entries. I focus on geography -- the more unusual the better -- so feel free to take a look if you want to see another fascinating feature about that town.

BoomtownUSA said...

Great post on West Wendover on your website. I hope that my readers will go there. Thanks for sharing.