There’s no doubt about it, the Genoa Bar in Genoa is Nevada’s oldest saloon. Founded in 1853, the bar is billed by its owners as “Nevada’s oldest thirst parlor,” and remains a favorite with locals and travelers.
Over its 160 years in business, the bar has poured countless beers and glasses of whiskey for presidents, writers and actors. Among the famous patrons were Mark Twain when he was a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and John Wayne were also among its famous visitors.
Wayne once rented the Genoa Bar for three days while filming his final movie “The Shootist” in 1976. What remains from his visit is a 16-ounce John Wayne Bloody Mary with bacon-infused vodka, bacon salt on the rim of the glass and peperoncini.
Another famous actor left behind something a little more personal. In the 1960s, Raquel Welch visited the bar and noticed the hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling and asked the bartender why they were on display.
The bartender told Welch the bras had been left by patrons over the years. After Welch had a few drinks, the bartender politely asked Welch if she would leave her bra hanging from the ceiling.
The catch, Welch demanded, was all the other bras had to be taken down so that only her bra could be displayed in the bar forever. The bartender agreed.
So, the next time you’re at the Genoa Bar, Welch’s bra is the one hanging next to deer antlers on the wall, alongside her autographed photo. It remains the only bra on display.
The bar, located within the Genoa Historic District, has changed ownership several times over the decades. The building was originally built in 1853 and opened as Livingston’s Exchange before it was renamed Fettic’s Exchange in 1884 and operated by Frank Fettic.
Fettic made his living serving fine wines, liquors and cigars.
There were several more owners before Bob and Betty Carver bought the bar in 1963. The Carver family eventually sold it in 2000 to Willy and Cindy Webb.
“We’re very honored to own the bar,” Willy Webb said. “We’ve always felt more like curators than owners. We are always patching it up.”
Webb said the Genoa Bar is known for Peggy’s Famous Bloody Mary.
“Peggy just retired,” Webb said. “Even though she doesn’t work for us anymore, we wanted to keep her name out there. People will come down from South Lake Tahoe for one of Peggy’s Famous Bloody Marys.”
The bar still has several of its original features. The top of the bar from the front to midway is original, as are the medallions on the ceiling above the lights. There is also an original single red oil lamp that’s lit every New Year’s Eve.
Even the mirror on the back of the bar has a story. The Diamond Dust Mirror was shipped from Glasgow, Scotland, in the late 1840s, arriving in San Francisco before being sent to Genoa by covered wagon.
Oh, and those stains on the ceiling aren’t blood, just tomato juice.
Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.