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The History of the Washoe Club

In the salad days of Nevada’s Comstock Lode a great social institution was spawned by mining magnates, artists and men of letters who sought to hobnob in luxury. The Washoe Club gained a reputation throughout the Pacific Coast for luxurious accommodations, and at one time it was a household term.

Soon after Bonanza dividends surged from $3 per share in January 1875 to $10 per share within less than two months, an organizational meeting of the Club held on February 20 proved to be a prelude to a parade of notables that would cavort through the Club’s exclusive quarters which housed one of the finest libraries east of San Francisco, an elegant billiard room, a parlor adorned with Italian marble and bronze statuettes, and a wine room that boasted an elaborately carved black walnut sideboard. The Club’s membership roster read like a Who’s Who of Comstock and Pacific Coast history, and the pages of the Club’s guest register were emblazoned with the signatures of General Ulysses S. Grant, General Robert Sherman, actor-lecturer Artemus Ward, actor Edwin Booth and railroad magnate Darius Ogden Mills and fifty other millionaires of international reputation.

The Territorial Enterprise of February 21, 1875, reported the details of the organizational meeting of the previous day:

…a meeting was held yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock at the office of Whitman & Wood in the California Building, for the purpose of taking steps for the organization of a social club in this city.

The club begins with sixty charter members, who pay in $150 each, making $9,000 with which to start. The initiation for new members has not yet been decided upon nor the amount to be paid in per month by each member.

We understand that the club will either purchase or erect a suitable building in which to fit up their rooms, and it is their intention to have everything in grand style. There will be a fine library and all the leading newspapers of the United States will be kept; also, the stock reports and all also in the way of news will be brought to the rooms of the club.

There will be a billiard-room, lunch room and all else that is to be found in the rooms of any first-class club of the kind.

The number of members is limited to 200. This club will supply a want long felt in the city, and is calculated to do a vast amount of good in a great variety of ways. The names of those who are taking the lead in organization of the club are a sufficient guaranty that it will prove a grand success in every respect.

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