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Jackpot is a cluster of light at the Idaho line.


The Nevada
Travel Network
Description and History of
Jackpot
by David W. Toll

Jackpot
From The Complete Nevada Traveler, the Affectionate and Intimately Detailed Guidebook to the Most Interesting State in America. Buy the Book Here

HERE IN THE HIGH RANCHLANDS of the Bruneau River country, surrounded by vast mountain wilderness, you might be surprised at the bright cluster of casinos where US 93 crosses the Idaho-Nevada line. This phenomenal community about 50 miles south of Twin Falls was the first casino boomtown in Nevada after Las Vegas.

Jackpot owes its existence to the presidential ambitions of Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, who did Nevada a big favor in the early 1950s by crusading against illegal slot machines around the country. When slot machines were turned to the wall and poker games closed down in saloons and club rooms all around Idaho, Jackpot was born as a log cabin full of one-armed bandits just across the Nevada state line.

It was five years before Jackpot had its first blackjack game, but today the casinos here would be right at home in Las Vegas. Cactus Pete's, the first and best-known of them is now a major high-rise, with the Four Jacks Motel, Bartons's Club 93, the West Star Hotel & Casino and the fabulously conceived Horseshu Hotel & Casino, a combination of a Hollywood sound stage and a western mining town.

There are 1,500 permanent residents in Jackpot now, and although the town lacks the supreme symbol of civilized existence, a cemetery, it does have a school, a golf course, a magnificent enclosed swimming pool, tennis courts, over 100 RV spaces and an airport. Despite being on the Nevada side of the line, Jackpot is now one of the largest employers in southern Idaho.

Most of this prosperity derives from the avalanche of visitors who roar south from Idaho every weekend, lured as much by the simple pleasure of a good dinner and the chance to get out of Idaho overnight, as by the gambling games.
For their benefit Jackpot sets its clocks to Idaho time, an hour later than the rest of Nevada. Gambling is still the main attraction for the wintertime sunseekers drifting south out of Canada, and for the truckers who highball north and south on US 93 at all times of the year.


Increasingly though, visitors are also attracted to Jackpot for the outdoor recreation available in every direction, from about ten feet out of town to as far as you can see and beyond. The Jarbidge Wilderness Area is in the mountains to the southwest, and the majority of the state's record deer have come from this part of the state. Sage grouse, chukar and pheasant hunting are excellent, and the fishing is even better. The Little Salmon River and its tributaries commonly offer up rainbow and brown trout up to four pounds, with larger fish caught somewhat less frequently. Salmon Falls reservoir across the line in Idaho, boasts of nine varieties of game fish including trout, salmon, bass and walleye. The opportunities for stream, river and lake fishing are unsurpassed.

Jackpot is surely the busiest town in Nevada, maybe the world, with a crowded schedule of golf tournaments, air races, skeet shoots, balloon ascensions and other events both ordinary and exotic. The golf course is open all year (play is with a green ball in winter).


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