Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside



Nevada ended its frontier ways in 1909 when it made gambling illegal to project a sense of civilized modernity to the rest of the nation. Just 22 years later, it voted gambling back as an economic panacea to fight the Great Depression. The postcard view of Fremont Street west from 1st Street to the Union Pacific Railroad Station shows a western town before the influence of casino gambling where the downtown Main street is directly tied to the railroad responsible for laying the city out in 1905. Hotel Nevada, last building on the left before the Plaza trees, had gambling when it opened in 1906, lost it with gambling prohibition in 1909 and brought it back with its repeal in 1931. It still operates as the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street a year after notorious Los Angeles racketeer, Guy McAfee opened the Golden Nugget. Even older, Hotel Apache with its Eldorado Club opened in 1932 to cater to workers toiling at the nearby Boulder Dam construction site. Likewise, the next-door Boulder Club opened in 1933 with the big YESCO sign going up three years later. Benny Binion took over the Apache in 1951, and then the Boulder Club after it burned in 1960. Down the street, the Frontier Club was opened by Guy McAfee in 1939, and the Pioneer Club opened in an old downtown building at the corner of 1st Street in 1942.


Fremont Street west from 1st Street showing Vegas Vic, the iconic cowboy put up for the Pioneer Club by the Young Electric Sign Company in 1951. Originally, both of Vic’s arms moved as he bellowed out, “Howdy, Pardner!” Across the street, the Las Vegas Club moved into the old Overland Hotel in 1949 and erected what was then Las Vegas’s tallest sign. The Pioneer Club closed in 1995, but Vegas Vic still stands.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street at the height of its Glitter Gulch years. Sticking with its Western ‘49ers’ theme, the Golden Nugget had YESCO erect a massive, rooftop neon sign in 1950. The Lucky Strike Club opened four years later with their own addition to Las Vegas’s sign skyline along with two giant gold panners. By this time, Benny Binion had already taken over the Apache Hotel for his Horseshoe Club.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street showing the 1963 transformation of the Lucky Strike Club into the ultra-Modern Lucky Casino, its two giant gold panners banished to a roadside casino out near Hoover Dam. Del Webb’s Mint Casino opened in 1957 with the hotel breaking ground five years later, following in the footsteps of the Fremont Hotel Casino, which opened as the city’s first modern high-rise hotel in 1956.


Fremont Street west from 1st Street in the decade before the Fremont Street Experience, the two-block long canopy, sound & light extravaganza completed in 1995. With much of the action out on The Strip by the 1970s, Fremont Street became home to tawdry souvenir shops and bargain basement slot parlors. The Union Plaza was the last modern casino-hotels to go up before the Experience, completed over top of the old piazza in 1971. Vegas Vic got his girlfriend, Vegas Vickie, in 1980. I’m sure he was thrilled. Vic was 31 years-old by then and Vickie was built to shill for the Glitter Gulch strip club for the few years it was opened. It was next to Sassy Sallie’s, a slot grind debuting in 1981. In 2000, Sallie’s became Mermaid’s, home of the deep-fried Twinkie.


George Chinn opened up -literally, with dynamite- Chinn’s Cave House at Brooklyn Bridge, Kentucky, in the 1920s.

It was a well-known hole in the wall where US 68 crossed the Kentucky River between Lexington and Harrodsburg famous for his wife Cotton’s ham sandwiches, and infamous for its penny and nickel slot machines operating in a not-so-secret passage in the back of the cave. When Chinn was busted for operating “illegal games of change” his defense was that his customers “don’t have a chance” to win at his rigged machines. The postcard shows the Cave House in 1942 when it was selling Hudepohl Beer. It also shows a second hole in the wall that may have been the calcite mine operated by a Chinn relative before World War I. Long gone as a business, the holes and ruins of Chinn’s Cave House still exist along the banks of the Kentucky River.

Woodbridge Cloverleaf

What could be more appropriate for New Jersey than a postcard celebration of a highway interchange? Not just any interchange, this is the Woodbridge Cloverleaf, the first cloverleaf interchange in America.

Originally designed in 1906 France and patented by a Maryland engineer in 1916, the cloverleaf was unnecessary until automobile traffic volumes justified the expensive of building it. That happened in New Jersey first with the construction of State Route 25 in 1928-29. Concurrently signed with US 1, NJ 25 was the main road across the waist of New Jersey connecting Philadelphia and Atlantic Seaboard cities to the south with New York and cities to the north. It intersected with NJ Route 4 (now NJ 35) in Woodbridge. Route 4 was the main road connecting the New York metropolitan area to the Jersey Shore resorts. Howard Johnson’sEngineer Edward Delano with the firm Rudolph & Delano designed a tried-and-tested traffic circle and an innovative cloverleaf for the intersection. Both interchanges were designed to move large volumes of traffic through an intersection without stopping or dangerous left turns. The New Jersey Highway Department chose the cloverleaf.

In 1939, a Georgian Revival Howard Johnson’s opened on NJ 25/US 1 not far from the Woodbridge Cloverleaf, taking advantage of the traffic plying the 4-lane spine of Megalopolis. A modern Howard Johnson’s replaced the original in 1966, which became a Landmark Inn in 1974, and was demolished for a car dealership in the 1990s.Cloverleaf Photos

New Jersey’s 1928 Woodbridge Cloverleaf in 2000, after NJ DOT proclaimed it to be functionally obsolete. The cloverleaf was demolished and replaced by a different design in 2007.

The tight 1928 turning radii of the Woodbridge Cloverleaf survived into the 21st century.

Designed for 1920s traffic volumes, the original Woodbridge Cloverleaf was built without accelerating or decelerating lanes. This became a problem after traffic volumes far exceeded its design capacity in the 1960s. The cloverleaf continued to function for another 40 years until concrete started spalling and holes began to appear in the bridge.