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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Monday, May 03, 2021

#3549 - Genoa Bar, Genoa, NV - 6/29/2018

The Genoa Bar, Genoa, Nevada

The first Europeans to settle in the region that would later be named "Nevada" were Mormon missionaries in the Carson River Valley in 1851. There they created a supply area known as "Mormon Station," for the growing numbers of emigrants passing through. The area was renamed Genoa in 1856, and in the following year, the LDS were recalled out of the area by Brigham Young due to the "Mormon War," as the LDS clashed with a federal expedition sent by President Buchanan.

The religious make-up of the permanent residents at the time is not clear to me, but it would seem that they were not all Mormons. as a saloon called Livingston's Exchange was established in 1853. That same building appears to have hosted bars or the majority of time from that point to today. I do not know how long it has been called the Genoa Bar, but it is at least several decades. The bar that remains there today retains that old west "thirst parlor" look and feel, the walls crammed with memorabilia that looks like it may have been last dusted before the Mormons left.

I personally tend to date a single bar back only as far as it retained the same basic name, but it appears that most of Nevada dates this one back to the founding of Livingston's, and hence the oldest bar in Nevada by some measure. It's hard to disagree with the decision when you step into the place. I don't think anything I write would improve upon the photos and this description in, but nevertheless I will end with a few bits from other sources, primarily the bar's own web site:

'First of all...the building was built in 1853 and I was first open for business as Livingston's Exchange, then renamed "Fettic's Exchange" in 1884 and operated by Frank Fettic. I [the bar] was well known as a "gentleman's saloon" back then and I was "kept in first-class style in every particular way." Mr. Fettic served fine wines, liquors, and cigars. According to one of his advertisements, " would be pleased to have all my old friends call, and they would be treated in the most cordial manner."

I have changed hands many times over the years and in 1963, I was bought by the Bob and Betty Carver family who ran my great establishment until 2000, when they retired and sold the bar to Willy and Cindy Webb.

The top of my bar is original from the front to mid-way where you'll see a line across it. The medallions on the ceiling above the lights are original as is the one red oil lamp which is lit every New Year's Eve. The electric lamps are also original to the bar and were oil but converted to electricity at the turn of the century. I'm kept warm in winter by the woodstove, and since it's the only source of heat, the locals often bring in firewood when I'm getting low. And, no, those are not blood stains you see on the ceiling (it's tomato juice) while there have been many rough and tumbles here, no one was ever killed. And yes, we grow our own cobwebs here too....

Many famous people have visited over the years. Among them, Mark Twain when he first reported for the Territorial Enterprise which opened in Genoa before moving to Virginia City. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt* enjoyed “cool ones”, perhaps right where you're standing. Carol Lombard and Clark Gable came here to play high stakes poker games with the local cattle barons. Among the other famous and infamous, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, Ronnie Howard, Red Skelton, Cliff Robertson and all of our Nevada Governors have come through my doors.

When Raquel Welch visited us, she was asked to leave her bra. She agreed but insisted that all the other bras be taken down -and they were! Her's is the black leopard print hanging on the antlers though it's so dusty now, you can't really tell. It wouldn't be right to exclude anyone, so I take lingere "donations" kept in the old safe. Go ahead and peek, but remember, the custom is: if you open the door to the safe, a donation is required!

A number of movies have been filmed here including "The Shootist" with John Wayne, "Charley Varrick" with Walter Mathau and Joe Don Baker, "Honky Tonk Man" with Clint Eastwood, "Misery" with James Cann, Kathy Bates, Rob Reiner and Richard Farnsworth, and most recently, (last summer) "Till the River Runs Dry" starring Ann-Margaret....

Musicians seem to gravitate here. I've welcomed Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Slim Pickens, John Denver, and the Captain and Tennille to name just a few.'

*Footnote: The Grant and Teddy Roosevelt visits appear to be unlikely.

'Despite having owned the place for the better part of two decades, [Willie] Webb says it’s difficult to grasp how deep the history runs at the Genoa Bar. “A few years back a woman came into the bar in her Sunday best. She had to be over 90, so she of course stood out a bit,” Webb recalled. Eventually, the woman called Webb over and said, “My name is Abigail, I worked here when I was 16.” Instantly fascinated, Webb immediately began to do the math, calculating when she must’ve worked at the saloon, and finally asked what it was that she did there. “And in her little old lady Grandma voice, she says, ‘I was a prostitute!” Webb laughed. “I couldn’t believe it! She told me that they used to take men out back to a bar that no longer exists, with bathtub gin they used to distill in the basement. There weren’t any beds, so it was a literal roll in the hay,” Webb joked.'

2282 Main St, Genoa, NV 89411 - (775) 782-3870
Est. as Genoa: ? - First established as a bar: 1853 - Building constructed: 1853 
Previous bars in this location: Livingston's Exchange, Fettic's Exchange 
Web site: genoabarandsaloon - facebook 
Articles ranked: travelnevadanational trust for historic preservation - onlyinyourstate - thesheetnews - tahoesouth (video) - historical marker database - mynews4 - knpr - sierranevadageotourism - swingu - tripadvisor - travelnevada 

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