When it first occurred to me that Nevada has no Hall of Fame I envisioned a big sign on the outside of a large empty building. I have since refined that conception to include virtual exhibits on the individuals who have achieved fame here, or at least deserved to. They needn’t have lived here all their lives or even spent much time here at all, only that they deserved to be famous and had a strong Nevada connection.

Albert A. Michelson

Albert Michelson was an immigrant boy who spent much of his childhood in Virginia City and was appointed by President Grant to the Naval Academy from Nevada in 1869. He resigned from the Navy in 1883 to teach physics and in 1907 was the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize in the sciences for Physics, principally for measuring the speed of light.

Big Bill Haywood

William Dudley Haywood began his career as a hard-rock miner in Nevada as a 15-year-old, and learned more in a bunkhouse 60 miles north of Winnemucca than he ever did in school. In 1917 the New York Times called him “The most hated and feared man in America”.

Edna Purviance

Edna Purviance, was for ten years Charlie Chaplin’s leading lady in 33 films, and his lover. She was his best and most loyal friend until the day she died.

Robert C. Gray

Bob Gray grew up in Oakland California where his father was a dealer in postage stamps, and Bob became an advanced stamp collector himself. He was a Boy Scout and in 1935 attended the first National Jamboree in Washington DC. It was on that long railroad journey that he began to take an interest in trains.

William G. ‘Wheezer’ Dell

Wheezer was the first Nevada native (and the first Eskimo) to play major league baseball. He played briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Robins — later the Dodgers — and pitched an inning in the 1916 World Series against the Red Sox.

W.J. Forbes

He was famous as “a twister of words who hid a pun in a sentence . . . Unfortunately most of his good things are now considered too broad for reproduction.” He ran newspapers all over northern Nevada and was widely quoted around the USA.

Marion Jones

She was a four-time tennis champion at the U.S. National Women’s Championships. At the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, Jones became the first American woman to earn an Olympic distinction (medals were not awarded until 1904).

Wovoka

Wovoka introduced the Ghost Dance as a vehicle to reunite Native Americans with dead friends and family. At Wounded Knee in December 1890, 300 Sioux were massacred by soldiers who lost 25 killed when a Ghost Dance erupted in violence.

Lewis ‘Doc’ Sherman

During his recovery after a severe stroke Doc was out walking one day and found a glove by the side of the road. After reflection he sprayed it full of insulating foam, popped it onto a fencepost and proclaimed the Permanent Wave Society.

Joe Conforte

Despite violent competitors, law enforcement vendettas, prison terms, exile, and life as a fugitive, Joe made the Mustang Ranch east of Reno into the biggest, brightest whorehouse in all the world. He is now living happily ever after in a penthouse in Rio.