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Shuttered Terrible’s prospector statues find new home in Nevada town

Updated January 31, 2024 - 8:35 am

Terrible’s Hotel and Casino in Jean may be no more, but its prospector statue guards are packing up their gold pans and making a small, historic mining town their new, and hopefully final, home.

Later next month, the two statues of men panning for gold outside of the Jean casino are moving down the street to Goodsprings — a town with a population around 200 people known for its rich mining history and Pioneer Saloon.

The two figures have a 70-year history in Southern Nevada, and have set up camp at several casinos across Las Vegas, Boulder City and Jean.

Four casinos and seven decades of history

The statues’ first home was the Lucky Strike Club on Fremont Street in 1954. A Review-Journal report from the casino’s opening says the 12-foot figures stood on either side of the club’s Fremont sign, and were once “mechanized to allow the miner to go through the motion of gold panning.”

A prospector statue sits beneath the Lucky Strike Club sign on Fremont Street some time between ...
A prospector statue sits beneath the Lucky Strike Club sign on Fremont Street some time between 1955 and 1965. (Courtesy of UNLV Special Collections and Archives)

The prospectors were moved to the Gold Strike Inn in Boulder City, where the gold panners guarded the casino’s sign.

In 1998, the inn burned down, but the sign and prospectors were spared. The casino reopened as the Hacienda in 1999, and was renamed the Hoover Dam Lodge in 2015.

The aftermath of a fire at the Gold Strike Inn Casino that happened on June 16, 1998. The prosp ...
The aftermath of a fire at the Gold Strike Inn Casino that happened on June 16, 1998. The prospector statues survived the fire, and can be seen beneath the Gold Strike Inn Casino sign. (Steve Andrascik/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

After the fire, the prospectors appeared at the Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall in Jean, which was bought by the Herbst family in 2015 and renamed to the Terrible’s Hotel and Casino in 2018.

Figure panning gold is seen at the entrance to the Gold Strike Hotel/Casino, Jean in 2001. (Ste ...
Figure panning gold is seen at the entrance to the Gold Strike Hotel/Casino, Jean in 2001. (Steve Andrascik/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Terrible’s closed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the property was sold in 2022 to Tolles Development for $44.7 million with plans of turning the site into a new industrial park.

Demolition on the casino began in December 2023, but the statues have remained untouched by the shuttered casino’s entrance.

Entrance to the Terrible's Hotel & Casino still temporarily closed on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 ...
Entrance to the Terrible's Hotel & Casino still temporarily closed on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Jean. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images

Stephen Fleming, the president and a founding member of the Goodsprings Historical Society, said Tolles approached the historical society and asked if they would like to take the statues into their care.

Fleming said the group agreed to take the statues in hopes they would make more people aware of the town’s mining history.

“The motive for us (to get the statues) was to preserve them, but also to make people aware of the fact that there was a little mining town out here, pretty close to Southern Highlands, that was a fairly vibrant community in the early 1900s,” he said.

Prospectors’ ties to town’s history

Goodsprings at its height at the turn of the century held a population of about 800 people. That may not seem like much, until you consider that the city of Las Vegas, which boasts over 650,000 people today, also had about 800 residents at the time.

Fleming said that although miners don’t depict the traditional way people mined in the area, they represent how Goodsprings miners would use a pan without a stream to pan in.

“I see my grandpa on the back porch, with a mortar and pestle and a rock, smashing it up and pulverizing it and doing a little panning to see what kind of color was in that rock, so they fit quite well with the history,” Fleming said.

One of the statues will be placed near the entrance of the town near the saloon, and the other will go into storage — for now. The historical society is still considering a spot for the other statue, including in front of the 110-year-old Goodsprings Elementary School, whose mascot is a miner, he said.

Plans are also in the works for repairs on the statues. Fleming said he is looking to connect with an expert to help them restore the statues’ old moving parts.

Cory Hunt, a partner with Tolles Development Co., said the company is excited to see the statues go to the town.

“They’ve been a part of the community for a long time, and we’re excited to see them go somewhere where they can be preserved and serve the community,” Hunt said.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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