As Silverton turns 20, employees recall ‘Boom’ years

When Silverton opened as Boomtown in 1994, the property looked like Hollywood’s idea of the Wild West.

Susan Myers, an employee since May 27, 1994, the casino’s opening day, recalled having to wear country-western outfits of blue jeans, cowboy boots and button-down shirts.

The casino covered 30,000 square feet then and has more than doubled since. Inside, railroad tracks adorned the ceiling and the carpets were decorated with cowboy boots and hats. Shady Grove Lounge was Rattlesnake Ricky’s. Visitors could pan for gold in an artificial stream and take home vials of gold flakes.

Things began to change when co-owner and developer Ed Roski purchased outright the financially struggling property for $70 million in 1997.

Roski had a partial stake along with Boomtown, Inc., but he terminated the company’s lease after three years and changed the casino’s name to Silverton. The rebranded resort turned 20 this year.

In the early years, the business struggled, in part because of its location at Blue Diamond Road and Interstate 15. The single- and multi-family residences that now surround it didn’t appear until years later.

The staff was also very large, said Martha Ferguson, Silverton’s senior vice president of operations. Ferguson joined the casino’s human resources department in August 1997.

There were over 1,400 employees with Boomtown, she said. Today, there are about 860 employees at Silverton.

Myers has remained because of the relationships she formed with co-workers and their families, she said.

Her son has grown along with the company. Myers was working in her first position as a change attendant when her water broke on the casino floor, she said.

Her favorite memory is of company Christmas parties. Several co-workers had children around the same time, so Myers would bring her son to play, eat cookies and do arts and crafts with the other children.

Ferguson’s children were already grown when she joined the company. She moved to Las Vegas with no job and knew only a couple of friends that lived in the city.

“I had never been in the casino business,” Ferguson said. “I found it really interesting and challenging, and always something new was happening.”

Since starting in human resources, “There are very few (departments) that I haven’t worked in or managed,” she said. “I like that; I like the challenge.”

Being able to try out different roles on her way up to senior management is a benefit of working at a smaller property, Ferguson said.

Slot floor attendant Cynthia McCurdy also was new to town when she was hired in 1994 as a change attendant. She was drawn in by Boomtown’s appearance. It felt “homey,” she said.

“I’ve made a lot of good friends; we’re just like family,” McCurdy said. “We cry together. We laugh together. We celebrate together. Besides family members, these are basically my friends here.”

McCurdy also has love for her repeat guests, both locals and out-of-towners.

“That’s where I get all my hugs and kisses from,” she said. “People have been coming here for years, and they’re like, ‘You’re still here?’”

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-383-0497. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

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