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History of the Mount Charleston Lodge

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Posted at 9:38 PM, Sep 17, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Mount Charleston Lodge has a deep, rich history going back over a hundred years. 13 Action News spoke with two Las Vegas area historians about the significance the lodge represents in Southern Nevada.

"The lodge means a lot to me, it means a lot to Las Vegas," said Robert Stoldal. "It has a very special meaning."

Stoldal is chairman of the Nevada State Board of Museums and History. Like so many locals, he has his own history of the lodge.

RELATED: Neighbors confident Mount Charleston Lodge will come alive again after 'total loss' fire

"Initially, the plan was that myself and a friend, we were going to climb Mount Charleston," he said. "Well, we didn't. We didn't make it past the saloon."

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"From there, I went to work at the lodge for my room and board," he said.

As for the history of the lodge, it was established by E.W. Griffith in about 1905.

"It started as camp and a campground," explained Stoldal. "There were tents and then there was a place where they had a kitchen, and it developed from there. Initially, it was called Charleston Park Lodge."

By 1915, the camp was developed enough for visitors.

"The Mount Charleston Lodge was the first commercial facility open to the public on the mountain," said historian Mark Hall-Patton.

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Hall-Patton says the attraction was all about the unique geography.

"You have a 12,000-foot mountain right here next to the desert," he said. "And this is the third highest mountain in the state."

Through the decades, ownership changed a few times.

"It was built by Griffiths," said Hall-Patton. "[The lodge] stayed in that family until it was purchased by the Bailey family. Warren Bailey, went by Doc Bailey, he had the Hacienda down here."

RELATED: Mount Charleston Lodge burned down, cabins saved

"The Bailey family had it for a number of years. They eventually sold it to the Orcutt family," he said.

In 1961, the original lodge burned down.

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"The fire that happened that day really made it clear that fire-fighting was a problem," said Hall-Patton. "It took over an hour for the fire engines to make it up the mountain to the lodge."

That's when the Mount Charleston fire station was built.

Hall-Patton says the lodge was rebuilt and opened in 1966, but it was more than a building that was lost again Friday.

"This is one of those structures that, it does become more than just a structure, more than just a business. It's one that becomes part of people's lives because it's just the place you go," said Hall-Patton.

By the way, Mary Jane Falls, Mary Jane Peak and Mary Jane Springs are all places named after E.W. Griffith's grandaughter, who spent many summers on the mountain.