It only takes about 30 minutes to drive from downtown Las Vegas to Goodsprings, Nevada, yet relatively few visitors know about this destination. People that commute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on I-15 might be familiar with Goodsprings, but most just breeze on by without stopping to take a look around. Those that do take the time to investigate the area will be in for a pleasant surprise, because one of the oldest continually operated western saloons in the state Of Nevada can be found here!
Goodsprings is a ghost town from days gone by, but this small town actually is very much alive in modern times. A living ghost town is what this place is by modern definition and this small town definitely offers some old fashioned peace and quiet when compared to Las Vegas. Goodsprings appeals to those who like the nostalgic old west lifestyle and views of the wide open spaces.
Goodsprings was named after a rancher named John Good. Originally this area was a ranching community that made use of the natural springs at the base of the Spring Mountains. After a wide array of valuable mineral deposits were discovered in this region, this area turned into a booming mining community and the town was given its current name. The original Goodsprings lead mine that was operated by Mormon pioneers actually was the first mine established in Nevada.
After the mining operations were no longer profitable, most of the residents of this community moved out. Ever since the mid 1900s, Goodsprings has hosted a small population of a few hundred people. Goodsprings is often referred to as being a ghost town by outsiders, but residents of the community are quick the set the story straight by asking the humorous rhetorical question, “Do we all look like ghosts or something?”
The Pioneer Saloon is the landmark local business and this old west saloon has been around for just about the same amount of time as the incorporated town of Goodsprings. One might say that the Pioneer Saloon is the community hub, nightlife hot spot, the best place to grab a bite to eat, the grapevine for local gossip, trading post, general store, casino and visitors center all wrapped up in one package! This historic establishment is one of the oldest continually operating old west saloons in Nevada. Recently in 2013, the Pioneer Saloon celebrated its centennial anniversary by hosting a festival event.
The Pioneer Saloon is said to be haunted, because back in the old wild west days a man was gunned down at this site. The bullet hole can still be seen on one of the walls of the saloon building. Wild west paranormal tourism enthusiasts have turned this saloon into a prime destination for seeing ghosts in recent years. The Pioneer Saloon certainly looks like a place where old memories do come back to life.
The Pioneer Saloon also has another famous place in modern history. This saloon was the headquarters for the 1942 TWA Flight 3 plane crash search and rescue effort. The airliner crashed into a mountain nearby and the Hollywood movie star Carole Lombard died on the scene. The Pioneer Saloon at that time was a hotel and some of the original lodge rooms still remain intact. A large lobby room at the saloon is dedicated to the memory of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. This memorial room is not something that one would expect to see in an old west saloon, but it is a pleasant surprise.
The Pioneer Saloon hosts many social event parties on holiday weekends each year. Memorial Day and Independence Day turn into big time parties at this place. This saloon has many loyal customers from distant places that return time and time again. Destinations like this are high on the list for Harley Davidson motorcycle club tours and classic car rally enthusiasts. Tourists like the old west style destinations like this too, because an old saloon is always a time capsule of the past.
On weekends or when there is a hoedown going on, the Pioneer Saloon can be jam packed full of customers, but this saloon offers plenty of outdoor patio seating. There are plenty of parking spaces available in the lot and along the roadside. The RV camper crowd will be happy to know that one of the parking lots at the saloon is reserved for trailers, tour buses, semis and campers. One word of caution must be mentioned for those who are not familiar with camping in this region. Coyotes, mountain lions, big birds of prey and rattlesnakes live the wide open spaces of the Nevada desert, so it is best to not let small pets and children stray out of sight, especially at night.
I visited the saloon on a Saturday when the Mint 400 off-road race was going on in Jean. The Saloon had a courtyard full of people sitting at picnic tables partying down while listening to live music.The Pioneer Saloon definitely is a good place for people that want to experience an authentic old wild west saloon atmosphere. For those who seek a timeless weekend afternoon getaway from Las Vegas, Goodsprings is the perfect choice!
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