The Mystery of Downtown’s Metal Tower

Is it a casino sign? An oil derrick? An NSA-funded thought transmitter? No.

nativeweb.jpgThe looming metal structure at 11th Street and Ogden Avenue is ever more in the eyes and minds of locals now that the historic Atomic Liquors, just a block away at 10th and Fremont, has reopened. Back in January (“What was the seemingly abandoned metal tower at 11th Street and Ogden Avenue used for?”), I dug into the origin of the tower, having little luck aside from the whispers of neighborhood old-timers who thought it was intended to be used as a neon signpost, like the one at Jerry’s Nugget.

Chuck S., the reader who originally asked me about the tower, thought it may have been used as a platform for a Thunderbolt civil-defense siren, something I covered in January 2012. Ted K. wrote that he lived at 7th Street and Mesquite Avenue until 1961. He graciously sent me a photocopied page from 1978’s Historic Preservation Inventory & Planning Guidelines: City of Las Vegas that classifies the structure as “derrick, utilitarian, steel frame.” The text implies that, even then, the structure was “serving no obvious function” but was a “visual landmark” in a flat community like Las Vegas. This may bolster Ted’s memory that the tower was installed as public structural art.

Donna A. wrote with details that the tower was connected to Sebastian Mikulich’s LTR bus line, which was headquartered on Ogden, and which I wrote about in March 2012. Donna tells me that a man named Smith married into the Mikulich family, and it was he who built the tower. “Originally,” Donna writes, “it was thought [Smith] would put a large advertising sign up there for LTR. Then he decided he’d use it as a ham radio tower, perhaps because the City refused to let him have the sign.” And finally, I’ve heard rumors that someone is looking to buy and relocate the tower as a component of the redevelopment of another Downtown spot.

So, the pieces begin to assemble. It is fascinating to see the interest and intrigue generated by a simple metal tower—albeit one that has survived about 60 years in a boomtown known for dismantling and imploding. I’m not sure we’ve gotten to the bottom of this metallic mystery, but I appreciate all those who are trying to help.



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