Wendover Will History Page

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His Story



Wendover Will® has been greeting travelers to Wendover since the spring of 1952.  His name comes from the CobblestonePostcard Finalfounder of the State Line Hotel & Casino, Mr. William “Bill” Smith, who started the State Line Service (a cobble stone service station) on the Utah/ Nevada border in 1926.  Prior to Wendover Will arriving, at this same site, visitors were greeted by a shimmering light atop a tall pole that provided a signal of sorts to weary travelers crossing the Great Basin Desert that they were within reach of this small but important oasis on Highway 40 called Wendover. 

With gaming legalized in the State of Nevada in 1931, State Line Service grew into the State Line Hotel & Casino, a company, which until its sale in 2002 was on record as the single longest held gaming license in Nevada.  As this growth took place, in 1952 after 26 years, that light atop the pole was retired making way for what has become a community and Nevada State icon, Wendover Will.

Wendover Will was constructed and erected by Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) out of Salt Lake City, WendoverWill-1952+combo finalUtah, who has been providing electric and other sign services since 1920.  At the time Wendover Will was created, his smaller twin “Vegas Vic” was also completed who today stands adjacent to Las Vegas’ famous Freemont Street.  Wendover Will made the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s largest mechanical cowboy”.  At the time he stood some 63 feet tall, had 1,184 lineal feet of neon tubing with his two large waving arms powered by a single ¾ horsepower motor, his eye winking and cigarette flicking.  The original pedestal of Wendover Will proclaimed proudly on its western face “This is the Place” and on its eastern face, “Where the West Begins”. 

Wendover Will through time proved to become not only an icon of the State Line Hotel & Casino, but as well became an icon of the community itself.  When West Wendover, Nevada was incorporated in 1991, Wendover Will took a prominent position in the creation of the City Seal which proclaims proudly “Come Grow With Us”, a ColorLogo-trim finaltrue reflection of the original light atop a pole and later the waving arms of a towering mechanical cowboy, welcoming all to the desert oasis of West Wendover.

Wendover Will was given to the City of West Wendover by Generation 2000 (Wendover Nugget) in 2004 and with the help of thousands of Wendover Will friends who donated time and money, he once again stands tall representing to all, the heritage of our community...

“This is the Place”, “Where the West Begins”



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Coming Soon!   Wendover Will Online Gift Shop, where you can buy all your official trademark Wendover Will ® stuff



Reclaiming the Skyline through Pictures - 2005


Wendover Will arrives from YESCO storage yard after a two year absence from the City Skyline




Wendover Will strapped and begins ascent to his new place as the West Wendover City Center Monument




Wendover Will gravitates into position where he is seated into large bases encased in 12 feet of cement




Wendover Will set and pedestal under construction

Photo from left:  City Manager Chris Melville; Council Members Jimmy Carter & Jamey Richardson; Mayor Josephine Thaut; Young Electric Sign Company Representatives:  Jeff Krantz, Josh Young & Ryan Young (both great grandsons to the founder of YESCO)




Wendover Will standing tall once again over the community, June 9, 2005, dedication ceremony




Wendover Will dedication ceremony dignitaries

Photo from left:  Mike Young (grandson of original YESCO founder); Gene L. Jones (co-owner of the former State Line Casino, the original home of Wendover Will); Brenda Draper (granddaughter of Bill and Anna Smith, owners of the former State Line Hotel & Casino); Mayor Josephine Thaut; Elko County Commissioner Sheri Eckland-Brown; Council Member Jamey Richardson; Nevada Commission on Tourism Rural Director Larry Friedman; City Manager Chris Melville




Wendover Will City Center Monument, Dedication Christening, June 9, 2005

Photo from Left:  Larry Friedman, Nevada Commission on Tourism; Council Member Jimmy Carter; Brenda Draper (granddaughter to Bill and Anna Smith owners of the former State Line Hotel & Casino); Mayor Josephine Thaut; Gene L. Jones (co-owner of former State Line Casino); Mike Young (grandson to original YESCO founder); Council Member Jamey Richardson; Elko County Commissioner Sheri Eckland-Brown; City Manager Chris Melville (background)




"Wendover Will" Welcomes You To West Wendover, Nevada

Photo from left:  Mike Young (grandson to original YESCO founder); Mayor Josephine Thaut; City Manager Chris Melville