There are many stories at the Pioneer Saloon but none compare to the tragic love story of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The Lombard Gable romance began on 25th of January, 1936 at the formal White Mayfair Ball. Before that, the two had worked in the movie called No Man of Her Own and this was their first meeting after that. They obviously liked each other, but somehow ended up fighting. The next morning, there were doves in his apartment when Gable woke up. The hotel clerks had been paid by Lombard to release the doves in his apartment, indicating that he still had a chance with her.
An old and decrepit Model-T Ford was found by Lombard by Valentine’s Day, which she towed to a body shop. She was aware of his love for fast cars and had the car painted white with huge red hearts on it. Gable was working at the MGM lot and that’s where the car was brought to him with a note on the steering wheel saying ‘You are driving me crazy’. That night, Gable called her and took her dancing at the Trocadero. It took Lombard the whole day to prepare for her first date with him and she chose to wear a champagne-colored gown and paired it with chinchilla jacket.
Now it was Gable’s turn to surprise her and he did so by picking her up in the car she had sent him. They both laughed at the joke while going along Hollywood Boulevard. The affair between Clark Gable and Carole Lombard went on in the 1930s, but had to be kept quiet because Gable was still married to Ria, his second wife, who he divorced on March 7th, 1939. On March 29th, Lombard and Gable tied the knot and bought a ranch in San Fernando Valley, California, which had previously belonged to Raoul Walsh, the director. They both lived an unpretentious and happy life and everyone who new Clark Gable declared that she was the love of his life.
At the end of 1941, with the beginning of the World War II, Lombard went for a bond war rally to her home state of Indiana. On January 16th 1942, Friday, at 4 in the morning, Lombard, along with her mother, boarded a Trans World Airlines DC-3 plane in order to return to California. It was a clear night when Flight 3 took off after refueling in Las Vegas. However, because of the war, the beacons in the area were blacked out and the plane was going off course.
It took twenty three minutes for the plane to crash nearby Mount Potosi, killing all 22 passengers including Lombard and her mother. Gable was sitting in the Pioneer Saloon to drown out the wait for his wife when he received word of her death and was devastated and inconsolable. He became part of the United States Army Air Forces and worked on a bomber, playing the role of a gunner on combat missions in Europe. He attended the launch of the Liberty Ship SS Lombard on January 15th, 1944, which was named after his wife.
Even though he married again, he was interred next to her at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in 1960. While this love story makes the watering hole a romantic spot, there are also other stories that add aura to the Pioneer Saloon.
Your ATV tour with Vegas Off Road Tours passes by the back side of Mount Potosi and the Pioneer Saloon Museum features a whole wall dedicated to Clark Gable and Carole Lombard that you can take in while enjoying your delicious Cowboy burger and cold beer. The image below is a gate at the back side of the Pioneer Saloon with Mount Potosi in the background and serves as a memory of this romantic yet tragic story from the days of old Hollywood, Goodsprings and the Pioneer Saloon.