Boulder City Magazine® September 2007 Issue
|Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride,
Boulder City Museum & Historical Association
When it was clear the government intended building Hoover Dam, Las Vegas entrepreneurs recognized the potential for a lucrative tourist trade. Among these was P. Leonard Lacey who had operated a small boat service on the Colorado River near Black Canyon. In the summer of 1930 Lacey built the Boulder Dam Pier, an enormous two-story boat landing and tourist stop with a steep 150-foot runway ending at the edge of the Colorado River where tourists could board his boats.
The first of these boats was the Miss Vegas, a 33-foot open craft with an 8-foot beam that sat 42. Lacey designed Miss Vegas himself and had it built in Las Vegas by craftsman Ed Strupat. Equipped with a 200 hp Kermath motor, Miss Vegas was launched at the river on August 24, 1930. Her christening became the main event of the Boulder Dam Pier’s dedication and Labor Day celebration on August 31-September 1, 1930. Lacey tied his event to the inaugural flight of the Long Beach, California-based Boulder Airlines which brought several planes of dignitaries into Las Vegas from Long Beach and Salt Lake City, including Lacey’s wife. Everyone was feted in Las Vegas by the American Legion and the Chamber of Commerce before driving down to the dam site where Suzanne Fishburn, four-year-old daughter of Carl Fishburn - Boulder Airlines’ Las Vegas agent - christened Miss Vegas.
Miss Vegas shuttled tourists in and out of Black Canyon for less than a year. Lacey advertised romantic moonlight cruises into the desolate canyon, and occasionally rented his craft to government engineers, geologists, and bureaucrats conducting last minute inspections and studies before construction began. Unfortunately, Lacey’s Boulder Dam Pier stood in the way of the government’s construction railway and had to be demolished in the spring of 1931. Lacey sold his boats; Miss Vegas, the jewel of his fleet, went to the Six Companies, the contractor who built Hoover Dam. Stripped of her paint, her benches, and her elegant rail - but with her name carefully preserved on the bow - Miss Vegas wound up hauling construction equipment and dam workers through Black Canyon till she was scrapped at the end of the job.
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