POOL HALLS

Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:

Louis Wagner — Broadway Hall

The Broadway Hall is believed to have been Louis Wagner’s original place of business in Randsburg.  In July of 1897 Louis was issued a saloon license and opened the first billiard parlor in Randsburg.  The January 1898 fire was stopped at Wagner’s Saloon, it is not clear if this was the last building burnt or the first building to survive. While it is not specifically stated in the newspaper accounts of the time it is assumed that the building was burnt in one or both of the fires as Louis found in necessary to take on a partner in August of 1898.   Louis was elected to the Citizens Committee in 1898 and was still serving as a member in 1899.

W. A. Coon & Co.  Palace Billiard Parlor & Bar

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble shows an example of a publicity article written for either the Los Angeles or San Francisco newspapers in 1897 which lists one of the business’s supporting this promotion as W. A. Coon & Co., Palace Billiard Parlor & Bar.  In 1903 the Inyo Independent reported that one of the buildings burnt in the June fire was the Palace Saloon.  It is not known for certain that this is the same business.

Wagner & Aubrey — Wagner & Aubrey’s Billiard Parlor — The Pioneer Billiard Parlor

T. A. Aubrey, who had been clerking for W. C. Wilson for two years in Randsburg, bought and interest in Louis Wagner’s business in August of 1898.  In the Photograph in Desert Bonanza the business is shown as having the name Wagner & Aubrey’s Billiard Parlor.  In McPherson’s The History of the Rand Mining District of California the business is called The Pioneer Billiard Parlor.  These two men stayed in partnership until sometime after December of 1900.

The above check made out to H. C. Matson, the owner of the Yellow Aster Saloon, was endorsed over to Wagner & Aubrey in payment for something and the subsequently endorsed over to George McBeven, probably in payment for beer.

T. A. Aubrey –

It is not known for sure whether Thomas A. Aubrey bought out Louis Wagner or whether they sold the business and Tom started his own saloon.

It is assumed however that he did buy out his partner sometime around 1901 and therefore he is listed here amongst pool halls rather than saloons.  Although in the 1902-business directory he is listed as running a saloon.   Tom stayed in business in Randsburg until late 1903 or early 1904.  When he left Randsburg he went to Tonopah Nev.  and later opened a saloon in Columbia, Nev.  The saloon in Columbia was lost in a fire in July of 1905.

The token pictured below is a brass piece 21mm in diameter.  The author and Wayne Threckeld while screening an outhouse in Johannesburg in a lot directly behind Jack Harrison’s saloon found it.  There were 5 tokens in this hole including one Johannesburg Hotel, and three tokens from towns out of the area.  It is believed that these tokens which were similar in shape and size to Jack Harrison’s token were passed off on him and he through them away in the outhouse.

T. Royal — Palace Recreation Hall

When Prohibition came to pass T. Royal refused to let it put him out of business and converted from a saloon to a billiard hall. soft drink parlor and barber shop.  The Barber shop part of the business was ran by Dick Faulk, who was from Barstow.

The business was located on the north side of Butte Ave. across the street from the present telephone building.   

Kent Knowlton –

Kent Knowlton was born July 23, 1883 in Nuckolls County, Kansas.  His family however soon moved to Orange County, California, where Kent attended public school.  At age sixteen he entered the work world at the Leffingwell ranch near Fullerton, California.  After several years at various jobs in the agriculture and construction trades, Kent entered college at CalPoy, San Louis Obispo.  He graduated three years later.  Finding no work in his field of dairying or hotriculture he went to Nevada where he engaged in egineering, freighting and at one time ran a feed store. He then migrated to the Oil Fields of Santa Maria, Coalinga, and west Kern County.  In Kern County he finally found a position in Horticulture and was appointed the County Commisioner for Hoticulture in Kern County, a position he held in 1914.

December 2, 1921: “Kent Knowlton, former county horticultural commissioner is in Bakersfield from Randsburg, today.” – Bakersfield Californian

The author is not quite certain when Mr. Knowlton was in business, however the fact that he used a token indicates that he was in business in the early twenties.  Kent Knowlton had a display of rocks in his poolhall that resembled a full course dinner.  This display became the centerpiece for the Randsburg Museum in the early fifties and the remnants of what remains of this display may still be enjoyed there.  The menu from the “Desert Dinner” is pictured on the following page.

The token is an aluminum piece measuring 25 mm in diameter.  A number of specimens have a whole drilled in them which probably indicates that they were canceled.

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