West Wendover has an extra-ordinary history
of being the place where many firsts have occurred in our world.
We were the sight of the connection of the first Intercontinental
Telephone Line, the place where world land speed records are set
exceeding 626 MPH (as fast as a commercial airliner cruising at
30,000 feet), as well as the location of the 509th Composite Group,
which was formed to organize, develop and deploy the worlds first
atomic weapons used to bring World War II to an end.
community of Wendover came into existence in 1906 as a railroad
town, serving the steam engines of the Western Pacific Railroad,
which is now part of the Union Pacific Railroad. The community
boasted a population of around 150 people. Wendover included
a train depot, water towers, a round house and other ancillary buildings
needed for the operation of an emerging and growing railroad.
Wendover became a main stop on this route, which provided service
across the Great Basin deserts of Utah and Nevada connecting Salt
Lake City to San Francisco.
During the early 1900's Wendover was a cross roads for many significant
undertaking including arsenic mining 25 miles south of Wendover
mainly for the efforts of World War I and the connection of the
first transcontinental telephone line connecting the U.S. from east
coast to west coast.
Wendover area saw its first boom in the 1930's and 40's with the
introduction of legalized gambling in the State of Nevada.
Mr. William "Bill" Smith founded a small cobblestone service
station that provided a needed rest to weary travelers crossing
the desert terrain of western Utah and eastern Nevada. Today
this facility is knows as the Wendover Nugget It wasn't until
December of 2001, when the former State Line Casino and Hotel came
under new ownership, did this long-standing organization loose it's
place as the oldest continually operated gaming license for a casino
in the State of Nevada; over 66 years. As equally important
to this new business spirit in the area was the role the United
State Military played in building and operating Wendover Field.
Construction on Wendover Field began in November of 1940.
By 1943, Wendover Field had become the largest military reserve
in the world with over 23,000 military personnel, a total of 668
buildings and encompassing over 3.5 million acres of property.
facility became the mainstay of the Untied States Military's training
mission for bomber crews. All told Wendover field was home
to 21 heavy bomber groups including the most notable; the 509th
Composite Group commanded by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, along with
one of its divisions, the 1st Ordinance Detachment, which was responsible
for the assembly and modification of the atomic aerial devices.
The 1st Ordinance Detachment later became part of the Manhattan
These two groups' mission was recorded in history as the atomic
missions over Japan (Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on
August 9, 1945). And was the first and to date, only atomic
bombardment exercised by one nation against another.
Along with these and other significant
events, Wendover has also been home to one of the most time-tested
man vs. elements matches. This would be the Bonneville Speedway,
which lays on the salt desert left by Ancient Lake Bonneville.
Here, world land speed records have been set for nearly a century
and the salt floor of the speedway has been witness to hundreds
individuals and their cars, whether stock or modified, internal
combustion or rocket attempting to reach for speeds on land which
no other human has. Most notable is the record set by Gary
Gabelich and the "Blue Flame", in 1972, of over 626 miles
Through the 1970's and
80's Wendover began to emerge as a destination resort. Additional
business arrived constructing more casinos, hotels and other service
establishments as well as recreational venues such as the Toana
Vista Golf Course. As growth continued to spiral up, the citizens
of Wendover, Nevada, then a township of Elko County, elected to
incorporate under self-rule. On July 1, 1991, West Wendover,
Nevada came into existence and since incorporation, West Wendover
has been on of the most steady growing border towns in Nevada with
an average growth rate of between 5 and 8 percent.