The Roots of Reno

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Al Moe, Oct 3, 2008 - History - 237 pages
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Reno was truly Hell on Wheels in the 1920's. The rest of the nation considered the town Sodom and Gomorra, but that's only half the truth. Reno offered everything in the way of adult entertainment, from speakeasy's and houses of ill-repute, to open gaming - legal or not. And it took plenty of sins by the founding fathers to make Reno "The biggest little city in the world." When the gold-veins of Tonopah and Goldfield ran out, the casino owners moved to Reno, where even greater riches awaited. Together, a group of four men (Nick Abelman, Bill Graham, Jim McKay, George Wingfield) took over Reno's casinos and held sway over the town for the next three decades. Together they administered policy, collected juice, ran politicians, and owned the red-light district and most of the town's casinos. When that wasn't enough they took over the banks and laundered money for crooks like "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Alvin Karpis, and Ma Barker's boys, and offered safety to "Baby Face" Nelson. It was a good gig. The Reno Four dictated policy all over Northern Nevada, taking special care of Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos up until the late 1950's. Their influence made Reno before Bill Harrah or "Pappy" Smith ever arrived, needing an introduction and permission to build their own casinos, Harold's Club and Harrah's. This is an expansion, an unabridged version of "Mob City - Reno" with much to tell about Nevada's gold mining towns.
 

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The Roots of Reno is the first book to actually detail the lives and influences of some of the earliest casino owners in Nevada. The text starts with Nick Abelman and George Wingfield when they were in their formative years, what determined their futures (Abelman was a bar owner, Wingfield a poker player), and what their plans were for later life.
The book includes many old photos from the turn of the century up to the 1940's, mostly of Reno and Lake Tahoe. Great care was obviously taken in the research for this book, but instead of reading like a college text book, the author makes it imminently readable by focusing on a small cast of characters and their lives.
Set in chronological order, the reader learns how the greatest casino owners of the 1920's to the 1950's built their empires, and how many other casinos and owners were influenced.
 

Contents

The Christmas Present
3
Future King
11
Goldfield
17
Mining and Saloons
25
Tonopah
31
New Partners
41
Reno
53
Wingfields Favor
61
More Building
145
Paying the Piper
153
Fallout from the Second World War
157
Changes at South Shore
163
The Sahatis
167
Powerful Friends
171
Good Help is Hard to Find
175
Cleaning Up
183

The Calneva at Lake Tahoe
65
The Riverside Bank
67
Quenching Renos Thirst
77
The Ship and Bottle
87
Visitors from Chicago
91
The Fall of32
95
South Shore Lake Tahoe
101
Wayward Son
121
The Trials of34
125
Expanding from Renos Downtown
135
Trouble at the Lake
189
The 1950s
193
Run on the Bank
199
Sacking the Palace
203
The Calneva Lodge
205
Enter SinatraThe End is Near
213
Bibliography
221
Articles
222
Newspapers
223
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Author Al W. Moe is a twenty-year veteran of the Nevada Gaming Industry. He writes articles for magazines and web sites like Casino Gambling at About.com and Examiner, and plays poker and blackjack in his spare time. Mr. Moe's first book, Nevada's Golden Age of Gambling, is considered a "classic" resource for photos and stories from the state's first fifty years of legalized gambling, 1931-1981, and continues to sell-out at many bookstores.

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