On the California/Nevada border there’s an old abandoned roadside oasis where travelers could stop for gas, grab a bite to eat, get a room or even gamble in “The World’s Highest Casino.”
I’ve driven through Montgomery Pass numerous times over the past few years but it’s either been too dark or I’ve been too tired to stop. On my last trip to Mammoth I made sure I would have enough time to make it over the border in order to finally see what’s lurking inside of this long abandoned roadside oasis.
On the West side of the highway, the remaining buildings include a motel, restaurant and 3 houses…
…while the East side has a 2-story hotel, storage building, gas station, a row of cottages and the burned out Soper’s Restaurant and Casino.
Most of these buildings have been abandoned since the late 1990’s so I was a little surprised to find as much as I did.
So with snow on the ground…
…I decided to check out the 2-story hotel on the East side of the highway first.
The 2-story hotel was the only building that was completely sealed off so I had to make do with exploring its exteriors only.
TV’s and various other motel room items were strewn across the snow covered parking lot.
I found this online review from one of the last guests to check in here: “The rest of the “resort” was closed, but the signs guided us around the back of the casino to the hotel office where we were met by several barking dogs and their master, Kevin. Kevin was a pretty deranged individual, stumbling around shirtless in the empty, weedy parking lot, shouting and talking to the dogs and himself. He scared us a bit at first, but was friendly and cogent once we approached. I learned that he was the “security guard” hired to look after the resort while the buildings, land, and gaming/liquor licenses got untangled in probate court. He is very isolated out there, and his only contact with the world is through a CB radio.”
“At any rate, Kevin rented us a surprisingly clean, comfortable room for the $23 cash we had on hand. Given our alternatives, we totally lucked out. Even got to spend the afternoon watching “Cable Guy” on the one channel that came in on the TV — HBO.”
The Soper’s Restaurant and Casino burned down on March 24th, 2010.
It was was located in front of the 2-story hotel…
Quarter slots were once popular at Soper’s Restaurant and Casino.
With only a limited supply of water, the firefighters did their best to save the long abandoned building but the Restaurant and Casino were a total loss.
The fire was reported to be suspicious and there were even rumors that the owners burned it down themselves in order to get the insurance money.
Montgomery Pass used to be the only place for services between Benton, CA, and Tonopah, NV — an 81 mile stretch.
The gas station’s garage…
…appeared to be used for storage.
There were table games…
…and Bingo tickets found throughout the large space.
Next to the gas station sits a row of cottages that were once offered as rental cabins to sleepy travelers who made their way over the pass. The cabins were small but offered guests full kitchens, bathrooms and other amenities that the nearby lodgings didn’t have.
Like most abandoned spaces, each cabin told its own story.
Perhaps this out of town guest was concerned about the bears in the area?
Or this one liked to read?
Maybe this one had a gas station fetish?
The rooms do seem cozy…
…if you don’t mind a little asbestos, lead or mouse feces.
The views are to die for.
Crossing over to the West side of the highway I checked out a few of the houses that were most likely used to house either the owners or employees of the surrounding businesses.
Naughty and Vice
While there’s not much information to be found about the history of the area, I did find this post from a former patron of the casino and motel: “I used to frequent the establishment in the 80’s and 90’s while enroute to fishing spots or other outdoor activities in the Eastern Sierra. I’m not sure which year other than in the early to mid 80’s one of the restaurant cooks murdered his girlfriend either in the Boundary Peak Motel or a free standing cabin. The guy was playing a machine like nothing ever happened and I was one or two machines down from him. He was taken into custody at the machine and they found a .44 mag in his waistband. I guess it took a while for help to get there due to the remoteness. Haven’t been that way for a few years but just curious if anyone knows anything new about the area or what caused it’s demise.”
More casino history was found in the Boundary Peak Lodge Motel & Restaurant.