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Bing Crosby - Elko Years

Elko, Nevada

1943  - 1958

In late September, 2001, I was working on a web-page about the terrace east of the Ruby View golf course in Elko, Nevada.  The page was written because of a wooden cross I had seen on this terrace while I was golfing (some call it that) at the adjacent course. My boy and I visited the terrace, on a following Sunday, took a few pictures of some of the old cars, the cross and the golf course.  While researching the subject, I typed "Elko Nevada Golf Course" into the Google search engine.  All of the expected 'stuff' came up and one treasure.  It was an article written by Mr. Ray A. March (http://www.golfreader.com) about Mr. Bing Crosby, entitled

 Bing Crosby: Riding The Parallel Tracks of Golf & The Cowboy.


The article captured the flavor of why many of the older Elkoans have such a deep respect for Mr. Crosby.  Because it was good reading,  I added it to the related links section of the page.

On October 1, I received the following e-mail from Mr. March:

"Dan:  I see you tapped into my web site, golfreader.com.  I have no
objection to your linking the Bing Crosby article to your site, the more
viewers the merrier, but I am curious as to "why."  Can you fill me in?
Thanks, Ray A. March"


Why?

Because Mr. March's article about Bing Crosby and Elko, Nevada, my home, was well written, interesting, enjoyable, and well researched.  Some additional information not in the article follows.

On January 18, 1943, Mr. Crosby arranged "to buy a 3,500 acre ranch east of Elko, Nevada on Humboldt River (the old Jube Wright ranch, the 7J Livestock Co.)"

In 1947, Crosby sells ranch at Independence Valley and buys the Newt Crumley ranch, 60 miles north of Elko. It contains 25,000 acres and an unknown expanse of National Forest.  The ranch is at an elevation of 6,400 feet. Bing runs 3,500 head of cattle there. 

On February 6, 1948, "Bing and Dixie arrive in Elko in a raging blizzard to find 350 people standing in line for tickets for a banquet installing Bing as honorary mayor. Bing buys the tickets and distributes them to the crowd."

On February 7, 1948, Bing Crosby was named  "Honorary Mayor of Elko." He held the post until his death in 1977.  

In July 1950, Bing Crosby also became a member of the Western Shoshone-Paiute tribe at Owyhee, near Elko. His Indian name was 'Sond-Hoo-Vi-A-Gund' (the man of many songs).

On June 30, 1951, "at Elko, Bing takes part in Elko Blue-Serge Day and is presented with special tuxedo made by Levi Strauss so that he is not turned away by a hotel again."

About the Levi Tuxedos discussed in Mr. March's article -
There were at least two Levi Tuxedos made.  One for the then Mayor of Elko, David Dotta and the other for Mr.Crosby.  Both of these tuxedos are on display at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko.  However, according to a website about Ramblin' Jack Elliott, he also has a Crosby Levi tuxedo.  Don't have a good answer to this, but that's what makes the quest interesting.

On July 29, 1951, Bing is in Elko for the world premiere there of "Here Comes the Groom" on July 30.  The movie premiered at the Hunter Theater.  Which is now the Commercial Casino parking lot.

On July 31, 1951, on the radio program 'The Elko Show'. The various events in Elko over the three day period raise $10,000 for the hospital building fund.

In 1953, the year I was born, and 1954, Mr. Crosby was filming 'White
Christmas'
with Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Dean Jagger.  "We'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go".  During this period he also spent time at his ranch in Elko.  "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".

Crosby sold his ranches in Elko on November 18, 1958, but during this 15-year period Mr. Crosby did many wonderful things for Elko.  He relaxed, ranched, raised money, took part in and brought his friends to Elko.  He treated the town well.  The town loved him, not the actor, but Mr. Crosby - the man.

On November 25, 1958, it is "disclosed that Bing has agreed to buy the 1350 acre Rising River Ranch, in north eastern Shasta County, Northern California."  And with this the Elko years came to a close.

Mr. Crosby, to my knowledge, never played the Ruby View Golf Course.  The course was built in 1968.  It replaced the 9-hole course that was in the way when the I-80 freeway was constructed through Elko.  When Bing Crosby was in Elko this area was just sage and rabbitbrush.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

~ Click on photos to enlarge ~

 

Photos of the Bing Crosby Display at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko

This display, and many others, was researched and created by Mrs. Jan Petersen, Northeastern Nevada Museum.

These photos don't do it justice. The day I visited the museum they were moving this display to a more prominent place.  The lights had not been connected yet.  I will go back later and get better shots.

    

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The gentleman looking at these tuxedos was on the Casino Express from Spokane, Washington.  He was a big Crosby fan.  Mr. Crosby had also lived in Spokane in his younger years.  He said the Crosby library at Gonzaga  is a must-see.  
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Bing Crosby Trophy

All-Around Champion

Silver State Stampede

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Addendum

 

Here is something neat that Anthony e-mailed me:

 

 

There is, of course, a great deal more to write about on this subject than touched here.  This winter, as time permits, I hope to add to this page.  Especially of interest would be going to the Museum's archive section and reading the old Elko Daily Free Press and Elko Independent newspaper articles written while Crosby ranched in the Elko area.  But you've got to start somewhere.

 

 

Links

 

 

Mr. Ray A. March

http://www.golfreader.com 

 

 "I should also explain the Bing Crosby piece was part of a series I wrote called "Golf & The Cowboy."  The first part can be found under February 2001 archives and it's titled "Golf & The Cowboy:  Sorting Out The Myths At The Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering."  As for Bing ... he was also a "hometown" fixture in Carmel where I grew up in the 50s.  I've written an assortment of articles on him over the years."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:  Northeastern Nevada Museum

 


© 2001 - Elko Rose Garden Association

Recent Photos by Dan Turner