ELKO — The Silver Dollar Club, an iconic bar dating to the Prohibition era in one of Elko’s oldest buildings, is closing after 86 years of stories and songs rooted in northeast Nevada’s Wild West days.
Sam Horvitz, the club proprietor, told the Elko Daily Free Press he’s closing Jan. 30.
“I’ve been waiting to buy the building for years now,” Horvitz posted Jan. 3 on his Facebook page, “and my faith and patience have finally run out.”
The brick building was Elko’s first bank, founded by Jefferson Henderson in 1880. Henderson Bank moved in 1929 to a four-story building across the railroad tracks, and the old bank became a grocery store.
Local historian Jan Petersen, director of the nearby Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum, said the building became a “soft drink” parlor during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.
Robert “Doby Doc” Caudill, anticipating constitutional approval for the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition in December 1933, opened the Silver Dollar Club a month earlier, in November 1933, under the proprietorship of Ace Womack.
Petersen related a story from her oral history of Shorty Miglioretto, a Silver Dollar bartender during Prohibition.
Pete Atcaina came to town from his sheep ranch north of the tiny town of Deeth, paid for a drink at the Silver Dollar, and asked to put a second drink on a tab. The bartender refused to extend credit. Atciana became angry and got thrown out.
“Atciana went to Doc’s house at 9:30 that night, told Doc the story, then wrote a check on the spot for the price of the bar, went back and fired the bartender,” Petersen said. “The next day, after the heat of anger, he felt the bartender had integrity in refusing to extend credit to somebody he didn’t know, and gave him his job back.”
Horvitz’s Silver Dollar story followed his move to Elko in 1999. He bartended elsewhere before moving to the Silver Dollar in 2007.
A few years later, he decided to talk to the owners and, “I fired my boss, pretty much, and became proprietor. I’m the owner of the (corporation), just not the building itself,” he said.
Petersen said she was fascinated as a child by a trough along the bar’s baseboard with a trickle of running water. It wasn’t a urinal, but a “new age, high-efficiency” chewing tobacco spittoon, she said.
Horvitz said the Silver Dollar always hosted bands from rock ‘n’ roll to “underground extreme metal, to pop, to reggae, to Irish country, to everything.”
Matt Downs, lead cigar-box guitarist of Muddy Boots and the Porch Pounders, said the first time he played with a band on stage was at the Silver Dollar.
“Sam was a major supporter of live music in Elko, both local acts and touring bands,” Downs said. “With the Dollar closing it will leave a void in the Elko music scene.”
The stage also hosted “open mic” comedy nights featuring Jorgensen, who called Horvitz a friend.
“I take pride that I was the most unorthodox business in the community,” Horvitz said.