Winter’s chill quickly fades once visitors step inside the Pioneer Saloon in tiny Goodsprings, Nev. The room, warmed by an old potbelly stove, is little changed from 75 years ago when actor Clark Gable sat at the bar for a long day and night, awaiting word on whether his wife, actress Carole Lombard, had survived the Jan. 16, 1942, plane crash on a nearby mountain. (Lombard, her mother and 20 others died.) History buffs come to absorb spirits — of both the liquid and ethereal varieties.
The tab for two: about $110 for a newly remodeled room in nearby Primm and $50 for dinner in the saloon’s dining room, now a shrine to Gable and Lombard.
Southern Californians usually zip past Primm, at the California-Nevada state line, on the way to Vegas. But Whiskey Pete’s (31900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Primm, Nev.;  386-7867) just spent more than $3 million on refurbishment, the first since the hotel opened in 1973. The framed images of whiskey barrels beside the beds are a nod to the local moonshiner for whom the place is named. The hotel-casino is just 20 minutes from Goodsprings.
For a roadhouse at the end of the road, the Pioneer Saloon (310 W. Spring St., Goodsprings, Nev.;  874-9362) has a remarkably varied menu. When ordering the all-day breakfast (three-egg combos from $13), be sure to include the sweet potato hash. For dinner, a half-slab of ribs ($23) includes a salad bar, potato and baked beans in the can. (Yes, they really are Bush’s.) You can have a more formal meal at GP’s Steakhouse ( 679-5170) in Primm.
Once the saloon shutters for the night, a different breed of guests arrives for the Haunted Lockdown, a paranormal investigation that uses technology to summon the spirits, Lombard’s included. “Her voice is very sweet and sensuous,” said Jill Padovese, who leads the experiences. The lockdowns, by appointment only, cost $149 per person. That includes refreshments and round-trip transportation for those staying in Las Vegas, 30 miles north. Scads of photos of Gable and Lombard cover a wall on which there’s even a bit of wreckage from the aircraft. Check out the holes in the bar said to be made by Gable’s cigars as he waited for the search party to return.
The lesson learned
Goodsprings is sought by people who've never even heard of Carole Lombard. The saloon and the cemetery down Highway 161 — about seven miles off the 15 — are popular haunts (pardon the pun) for video-game fans. Both sites feature in the post-apocalypse game "Fallout: New Vegas."
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles TimesCarole Lombard