Boulder City Magazine® December '07/January '08 Issue
Boulder City Magazine®
|Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride,
Boulder City Museum & Historical Association
The Terminal Building
When workers excavated the lot where the new Chamber of Commerce building stands, they uncovered a series of concrete footings that mystified them. The size of the footings indicated that some enormous structure must once have stood there, but no one could imagine what it was. There may be only a handful of people alive today who remember that those footings once supported Boulder City’s Terminal Building.
The Terminal Building, constructed by Riverside, California businessman Frank Gottwals, opened in March 1932 and took up the whole block. It was called the Terminal Building because it was the main southern Nevada terminal for Union Pacific’s bus line. All passenger buses and freight trucks coming in to Boulder City had to stop there. A variety of businesses also moved into this building: Bill Harrison’s men’s store; Dr. Wheelwright’s dental office; and the Higgins-Rhoades barber shop. The Boulder Café occupied the south end of the building, and Virginia McCormick’s Nava-Hopi Indian Store sold Native American art and offered a circulating library of 500 books. There was a flower shop, a glass works, and an office service for Boulder City professionals. Gotwalls also operated a Cadillac taxi service which offered rides out to the brothel at Railroad Pass.
The Terminal Building was the busiest place in Boulder City, close to anything arriving tourists might need. The Boulder Dam Service Bureau was across the street in the Boulder Theatre where travelers could buy postcards, dam construction movies, and souvenirs. The Boulder Dam Hotel offered first-class rooms and fine dining, and Nevada Way was lined with cafes, drug and department stores. Wilbur Square, just a block north, was a green and grassy park with newly planted elms, perfect for travelers who needed to stretch their legs.
Frank Gotwalls’ building didn’t last many years after Hoover Dam was finished. He declared bankruptcy in 1938, the property was sold at auction and demolished in 1941, replaced by a shiny new Shell service station.
There’s an interesting coincidence, though, between the old Terminal Building and the new Chamber of Commerce building which stands there now: it was in the Boulder Café on this spot on March 29, 1932 that a group of Boulder City businessmen gathered to found the Boulder City Chamber.
Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum.
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