“Elephants in the Casino” Exhibit Closing Soon

Trader Dick’s restaurant first was located across from the Nugget, then moved into the casino.

Our current exhibit about the history of John Ascuaga’s Nugget will be closing on July 28.  If you have not yet had a chance to view “Elephants in the Casino”, your time is running out!  The exhibit covers the earliest years of the Nugget’s development under its first owner, Dick Graves, with John Ascuaga as his General Manager.  It includes information on Trader Dick’s restaurant from its Sparks location across from the Nugget and the addition of beloved elephant, Bertha.


The exhibit further explores the casino’s history under the sole ownership of John Ascuaga and his continued development of the property through the building of the second tower, completed in 1996, as well as the emphasis on its quality food, its staff, and further management assistance by two of his children, Stephen and Michonne Ascuaga.

Bertha helps Bonanza TV stars gamble at the Nugget while John Ascuaga looks on.

Celebrity shows and special promotions were a mainstay, with such events as the Nugget Golf Classic, the Basque Festival, and the Hereford Bull Sale held inside the Celebrity Showroom, to name only a few.  But always at the heart of entertainment was Bertha, the elephant who, with her sidekick elephant friends Tina and later Angel, was a hard act to follow in the Celebrity Showroom and became the unofficial mascot of Sparks.

The Special Collections Department exhibit is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, third floor.