Despite being the world's global gambling capital, there's more to Las Vegas and the Silver State than betting. Moreno does a fantastic job of drawing the reader's attention to overlooked spots, ranging from the Atomic Testing Museum at the Old Mormon Fort to the Valley of Fire State Park's colossal mutant rocks. Whether you're a local or tourist, Moreno will take you off the beaten path. It doesn't matter if you plan on reading Nevada Curiosities in a single sitting or just want to keep it handy for reference, Moreno is a brilliant guide.
Richard Moreno has for the past three decades documented the ghost towns, quirks and, as the title of his latest book, Nevada Curiosities, suggests, the “curiosities” of Nevada and the west. Whilst you might expect Moreno to focus largely on Vegas, he dedicates time to discussing all of Nevada, ranging from cities such as Reno to the relatively small town of Battle Mountain, in North Nevada, offering a unique snapshot of the “Silver State”.
As soon as you begin reading Nevada Curiosities it’s clear to note that Moreno intimately knows Nevada and its quirks. The author is perhaps one of the few travel writers who has the ability to accurately describe the elements of Nevada, as expressed in the opening sentences of Nevada Curiosities:
Nevada is Maureen Stapleton in the 1978 Woody Allen film Interiors. It’s a place that’s just a little bit louder than it ought to be, a little bit brighter than it needs to be, and, perhaps, a little bit less cultured than it wants to be.
Moreno’s ability to capture the essence of Nevada as a whole is also apparent when he describes the wide range of attractions the state has to offer. Moreno lists countless cities, towns and places throughout the book, making this an ideal purchase for those looking to see more than just casinos and slots machines whilst stopping in Vegas. It also offers the perfect excuse for those who wouldn’t consider venturing off the Strip to do so, as Moreno lists the location of each “curiosity” and provides a map, pinpointing key attractions in the different areas of the Nevada at the beginning of each chapter.
While part of the thrill of Nevada Curiosities is delving into the title and finding your favourite Nevada quirks, we found Moreno’s discussions of Las Vegas enlightening. If you’re looking to stay within the realms of Vegas, then you’ll no doubt find Moreno’s section on the gambling capital particularly useful. Moreno lists over 30 curiosities, including the fact that the Luxor’s light display at the top of the resort’s pyramid shaped exterior “is the world’s strongest beam of light”, as well as lesser known Vegas quirks, such as “the brain doctor”, otherwise known as Dr. Lonnie Hammergren. Moreno dedicates considerable time to Hammergren, who hoards “retired neon signs, giant movie props and other paraphernalia” and opens his home, the Castillo del Sol or Castle of the Sun to visitors just once a year on October 31st.
Throughout Nevada Curiosities, Moreno pinpoints and discusses attractions and oddities which tourists and newcomers to Las Vegas would otherwise be unaware of. Whilst the book is useful to the aforementioned readers, it’s also perfect for those who wish to understand the history behind Nevada, a state which is often considered as lacking tradition. If you’re looking for a guide to Nevada which offers something that little bit different then Nevada Curiosities is for you.