At the non-stop vibratory request of
Noble Grand Humbug
John “Dante Shortpants” Dunmire
The life and legend of
J. H. “Glendale Nick” Nicholaides
And the community of Glendale, Nevada
Will be honored at its 6019 Annual Fall Doins
In Glendale, Nevada
This keepsake is issued, illumined, ill-advised, illustriously not illustrated, and ill-timed for said doins
By Mark “The Expert” Hall-Patton, XNGH, DS-3, Clamp Plaquero, and Scribe of St. Vitus
Rendered into print by the
6016 [2014 pbc]
Glendale is a very popular name for communities in the US, and Nevada is no exception. There are place names based on Glendale in 18 states. In Nevada, two locations have carried the name. One, near Sparks, once had the oldest operating school in the state. The other, in Clark County, is the focus of our doins this weekend.
Our Glendale was located based on an overheard conversation. Two Nevada highway engineers were talking at a job in Lathrop Wells. They were overheard discussing the route the Arrowhead Trail Highway was going to take over the Muddy River by J. H. Nicolaides, a Greek immigrant looking for an opportunity. He decided this would be his.
The site was well known in southern Nevada history. The Old Spanish Trail (which was neither old nor Spanish, being a relatively new Mexican trail when John Charles Fremont noted its name) crossed near this site. A wagon road from Pioche to Prescott, Arizona, also came through this area in the 1880s. They, however, were not the only historic influences on the land.
One of the first groups of settlers to settle in today’s southern Nevada had a small farm near here before 1855. Known later as the Huntsman Ranch, it was settled by a small family who were probably on their way to California. The family name of the two adults and three children is not known to the author of this keepsake. They did build a rock house near Kane Spring, and were able to grow enough vegetable to trade with passing travelers. Their rock home survived until about 1910, when it was washed away in a flood.
We know of the settlers because of records from the Mormon mission to Las Vegas in 1855. Some Mormon horses and cattle were stabled at the ranch, and they ranch owners were paid in trade. When the Mormon Las Vegas missionaries left in 1857, so did the family, and it is not known what happened to them.
The land where Glendale now sits, was part of a ranch settled by the parents of Helen Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. Weiser. Known as the Weiser or Home Ranch, it was a postal stop for ranches in the area, as was the Stewart Ranch in the Las Vegas valley. Later is became known as the Lewis Ranch. After the Weiser’s left the ranch, it was leased by many others. At one point in the 1870s, Jack Longstreet leased the ranch.
During Longstreet’s tenure at the ranch, a neighbor named Alexander Dri or Dry was killed at the ranch by Longstreet. Longstreet claimed he was trying to jump his water rights, and shot him in self-defense after Dri had pulled his gun. Later, after Longstreet had left the area, a local Paiute named Indian Ike claimed to have seen the shooting. His version was that Longstreet had shot Dri from ambush, but Dri had survived the first shot and pulled his gun after he fell from his horse. According to Indian Ike, Longstreet then shot Dri twice more to finish the killing. When the shooting was investigated at the time, the fact that Dri had obviously pulled his gun seemed to back up Longstreet’s version of the killing, and Ike never spoke about what he had seen until years later because he was afraid of Longstreet.
By the early twentieth century, with the coming of the railroad and the creation of Las Vegas, a new road was needed to connect southern California with Utah and Salt Lake City. The Arrowhead Trail Highway was conceived as an all-weather alternative to the Lincoln Highway through northern Nevada, which was always closed for months during the winter.
The route of the road followed many existing roads. The crossing of the Muddy was known since the Old Spanish Trial, and was used by many other routes. When Glendale Nick overheard the conversation with the road engineers, it was clear that the road would go through somewhere near where it finally did.
Nick was aware that the information he had would only have value for his future for a short time. Once the road was built, anyone who wanted to supply travelers with oil, gas, tires, and service, would know where to build. He wanted to use his new information before anyone had a chance.
He made his way to Moapa, and stopped at the Powers Hotel, a hostelry run by Mrs. Powers. Mrs. Powers hired Nick to do some prospecting for her, and he was able to look around for possible available land for his planned service station. Eventually took a job with the White Star Plaster Company in the area. This proved fortuitous, as it gave him access to their property maps.
Their maps described not only local property divisions, but who owned what property. Nick identified a 40-acre parcel which would be crossed when the road came through. Unfortunately, it was not for sale, as it was owned by the government, who had taken it for taxes. Nick knew the road would have to traverse this property.
The property was part of a much larger ranch, much of which was the original Home or Weiser Ranch. That land was owned by Calvin Balch, who also owned the now-defunct Moapa and Salt Lake Produce Company. Balch had acquired the ranch in a tax sale in 1922, but the 40-acre parcel was not part of the main ranch.
Nick went to California to line up equipment he would need to build his service station, and while there got word that the government was going to sell the 40-acre parcel for back taxes. He hurried back to Las Vegas and borrowed money to be able to buy the property. At the sale, however, he found there was a possible wrench in the works.
That wrench was Mrs. Powers, the lady he worked for when he first started the process of trying to locate land for his service station. She was at the tax sale, and was known to be almost more interested in making life difficult for others than actually buying property. Nick worked with Guy Doty, a friend who will figure later in this story as well, to set up a way to get around Powers.
Nick and Guy worked out a plan. Nick would begin the bidding, and would go up to $200 for the property. If Powers was still bidding, he would feign disgust, and get up and stalk out of the room. Doty would then keep bidding up to the extent of his funds.
The bidding started at $47.50. When Nick got to $195, Mrs. Powers bid $200. Nick got up and said “Well, that’s more than I’ll pay for that worthless piece of land!” and started out of the room. Mrs. Powers, who apparently did not want it at that price, yelled “He can have it. He can have it.” Nick’s theater had been successful.
With his needed land, Glendale Nick began work on his service station. He hired a man named ‘Frenchy” Burgoin and a Paiute named Worky John to work with him. In early 1924, Nevada Highway Engineer C. C. Boyer came by the construction site. He looked at where the service station was being built, and stopped to talk with Nick.
Boyer was concerned. The service station was 20 feet too close to the right-of-way for the Arrowhead Trail Highway alignment. He told Nick that he would have to relocate his building 20 feet further away. Nick, however, surprised him by saying no, he would not move his building. When Boyer pointed out the right-of-way would, Nick pointed out that the state did not have a right-of-way over his property. Boyer left and checked his records, finding out Nick was correct.
What to do? The road had to go through approximately where the station was, and the state needed a right-of-way. When Nick was approached about how they could resolve the issue, he said if they moved the road alignment to what he wanted, which would bring it right past his service station, he would give the state a right-of-way over his property. Boyer knew he was between the proverbial rock and hard place. After some negotiations with County Commissioners Bill Stewart and Henry Rice, Nick’s requested route was accepted. The state and County agreed to the solution. Nick got his service station, and the state got their right of way.
While he was building, Nick noted the beautiful view from the roof of the service station, and named the area Glendale. He also ran into yet more problems with Mrs. Powers, who decided to try and bluff him off the property. He spotted Shorty Powers and Mrs. Powers putting up No Trespassing signs on his property, and ran them off with a well-placed rifle shot. Later that same day, they were back and trying to post an area they thought could not be seen from the service station site. Unfortunately they were incorrect, and another, closer shot did finally run them off.
Nick got the station open in the spring of 1924, and immediately did a good business. By November of 1924, Nick was paid over $30 for one month’s worth of supplies used by Clark County alone. He was the Red Crown Gasoline dealer in the area, and was the only service station.
In 1925, Glendale Nick had his best two days when the Lost City Pageant was held near St. Thomas. He worked 26 hours straight providing gas and other needs, and eventually just closed his station when he had to get some sleep. Customers continued to try to get his attention even then.
By 1926, Glendale Nick decided to move on. He sold his station to his friend Guy Doty, who had been in on the original plan to outflank Mrs. Powers, and left the area. Doty also had a Standard Oil bulk plant in the area. He ran the station until 1945. During his time, the road did get relocated , and he moved the Glendale Service station to the new alignment. During this period another station was built in Glendale.
This was the Arrowhead Service Station. The building was originally built in St. Thomas. When St. Thomas was to be inundated by Lake Mead, Reinhold Hannig moved the building to the Glendale area. It was facing south when reconstructed there, which did not work as well as the building was facing the wrong way. Hannig had the entire building turned around, and ran it for a number of years. He eventually leased it to Fay Anderson. Going through a couple more leasers, it was eventually bought by Robert Anderson and Mr. Sullivan. Anderson bought out his partner and owned it through 1965. In the mid-2000s, the property was sold and cleared for future development.
The Glendale Garage continued in operation. In 1945, Jay Robb bought the station. He built the motel addition and ran it for w few years, but died in an airplane crash. Over the years many others have owned the station and property.
Glendale Nick’s overheard conversation led to the development of a business which has served the traveling public for nearly a century. It was not an easy business to get started, but he was a resourceful member of the entrepreneurial class. Today we honor his memory.
For more information, consult the following publications:
Hafner, Arabell Lee, 100 Years on the Muddy, 1967, Art City Publishing
Las Vegas Age, November 15, 1924
Perkins, George E., Pioneers of the Western Desert, 1947, Wetzel Publishing
Perkins, Orville, Hookey Beans and Willows, No date, self-published
Tobiasson, Virginia “Beezy” Lani, and Hall, Georgia May Bagshaw, Muddy Valley Reflections, 145 Years of Settlement, Volume 1, 2010, Cox Printing
Woods, Fred E., A Gamble in the Desert; The Mormon Mission in Las Vegas (1855-1857, 2005, Mormon Historic Sites Foundation