Bruce Bledsoe

Raymond I. (Pappy) Smith and Harold Smith Sr.

Raymond I. "Pappy" Smith, one of the foremost pioneers of Nevada gaming, and his son Harold Smith Sr. were the two men chiefly responsible for the creation of Harolds Club. Harolds was one of the first modern American casinos, and it put Nevada gaming on the national and even international map.

Virginia Street Bridge

The Virginia Street Bridge gained its fame during Reno's heyday as the divorce capital of the nation. Lore had it that immediately after receiving their decree, women would march to the center of the bridge and, in an emphatic good-riddance, throw their wedding rings into the Truckee River (less satisfying but safer than tossing the ex-husband over the rail).

Historic Street Clock of Reno

The historic street clock of Reno, Nevada, first appeared on Virginia Street in front of Ginsburg Jewelry Company in November of 1935. Businesses often placed these “street” or “post” clocks in front of their establishments to promote themselves; they were especially popular with jewelry stores. Years later Reno's clock was moved to a shopping mall and now is to be preserved downtown.

Harolds Club Roaring Camp Gun Collection

Roaring Camp was a specific room in Harolds Club, but it was more than that: It was the name of general manager Raymond I. "Pappy" Smith's floating tribute to antique guns, a massive collection of weapons displayed throughout much of the casino.

Harolds Club Mural

In 1949, Harolds Club commissioned a mural honoring the pioneers of the Old West. The design was created by painter Theodore McFall, and the mural itself was constructed by artist Sargent Claude Johnson of San Francisco, California, then fired into porcelain by Mordecai Wyatt Johnson at the Paine-Mahoney foundry in Oakland, California. Late that year the work was installed on the exterior of the casino.

Harolds Club Innovations

Harolds Club in Reno was the first modern casino in Nevada. Although it struggled financially following its opening in 1935, it soon began to flourish, due in large part to several innovations that changed the nature of the state's relatively new business of legalized gambling.

Harolds Club

On his twenty-fifth birthday, February 23, 1935, Harold Smith Sr. opened a tiny gambling club in Reno, Nevada. He had come to “the biggest little city” because California was cracking down on the carnival games his family ran in the Bay Area, and in 1931 Nevada had legalized gambling. Smith called his place “Harold's Club”—with an apostrophe—and it was to become one of the most famous gambling place of its day and one of the first modern casinos.

Subscribe to Bruce Bledsoe