Nevada Writer's Hall of Fame award winner Richard Moreno takes readers beyond the Las Vegas strip to reveal some of the Silver State's most interesting tales. The author brushes upon everything from serpentine monsters to a dead senator who was literally put on ice until after the election. Yet not all of the topics Moreno covers are bizarre. Mysteries and Legends of Nevada will introduce readers to the conqueror's curse, which explores how dozens of the cast members of John Wayne film developed cancer. Whether or not you plan of visiting Las Vegas, it's worth learning about the mythologies surround Nevada, especially when you have the gifted and knowledgeable writer as your guide.
Richard Moreno’s latest publication, Mysteries and Legends of Nevada, discusses the strange folklores and spooky stories surrounding the Silver State. As the author suggests at the beginning of the book, once you escape the bright city lights, the desert almost instantly causes wearied travellers and adventurous tourists to imagine what is lurking in the midst. Drawing upon a 1940 Works Progress Administration Guide, which describes Nevada as the “great unknown”, Moreno proposes that the state is still “a place that has not been fully mapped or explored.” Indeed, while most of us would recognise the neon lit Las Vegas Strip in a matter of seconds, few venture out into the desert plains.
Mysteries and Legends of Nevada aims to discuss and shed light on some of the key legends of Nevada. As a state that’s incredibly densely populated in certain areas and almost empty in others, Moreno’s book not only aims to draw together some of the most prominent Silver State stories, it also weaves together towns rarely discussed in Nevada tourist guides. Similar to Janice Oberding’s discussion of the paranormal aspects of Las Vegas (in The Haunting of Las Vegas), Moreno comments on notorious characters and legends, as well as lesser known Nevadans. Perhaps the most infamous legend discussed in the book is the tale of Democrat Senator Key Pittman, who, rumour has hit, “was kept iced in a bathtub” after he’d died a few days before the election, in order to prevent the Democrats from losing the vote. As Moreno explains, the gruesome tale wasn’t routed in fact and while Pittman did suffer a heart attack, he was taken to hospital alive:
Contrary to the iceman legend, however, Pittman was not yet dead. Mimosa Pittman, the senator’s wife, was in Washington, D.C, when she heard about his condition. She arrived in Reno on Election Day and immediately visited him in the hospital. In her diary, she wrote that he was alive and seemed “happy”
Mysteries and Legends of Nevada also examines some of the more mystical legends of Nevada, such as the twin sea serpents who are described by the Paiutes, a group of Native Americans from Nevada, as “human beings, a male and a female, who for some reason were turned into big, snakelike monsters”. Moreno has an uncanny ability to trace a story from its roots, right up until present day references and in this particular section on the serpents of Walker Lake, he discusses the first “modern” report of the serpent (from 1868) right up until the most recent sighting in 2005.
While parts of Mysteries and Legends of Nevada are dedicated to what can commonly be considered “out-there” topics, others touch on tragedies which still resonate with readers today. For an example of such a discussion, readers need only turn to “The Conqueror’s Curse”, which examines how 91 of the 220 member-cast of the John Wayne film The Conquerors have developed cancer. Drawing upon recent legislation changes, Moreno utilises evidence prevented by scientists and indeed, those who starred in the film, allowing the reader to piece together the fact that the fallout from Atomic testing in Nevada was seriously underestimated. Combining the strange, serene and sometimes shocking aspects of the state, Moreno’s latest publication proves that this writer knows the Silver State better than most.
You can keep up with Richard Moreno's work by visiting the author's dedicated page at Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Moreno/e/B001JP3UC0.