White Elephant Saloon, c. 1895

This photo is among the first I’ve framed and hung up to begin our change from Victorian decor to historic.  There is something very humorous and engaging about this photo.  I think it’s the dog.  He appears to be completely indifferent to–and perhaps even put out about–having his photo taken.  The man in the center holding his leash is identified as Col. J. G. Albright, and the photo is dated c. 1895.

The White Elephant Saloon was located on the corner of Railroad Avenue (now Central Avenue) and Second Street.  According to Albuquerque:  A Narrative History by Marc Simmons: 

“For sheer elegance and snob appeal, the White Elephant Saloon had no peers.  Situated on the corner of Second and Railroad (site of the present Sunshine Theater), it boasted a solid mahogany bar long enough to accommodate fifty men at once.  The sumptuous furnishings cost $12,000, the shiny brass cuspidors were worth $15 apiece, and the glassware was imported from Belgium.  The gambling tables enjoyed fame as the finest and straightest in the Territory.  For thirty years, New Mexico’s political and business leaders, along with visiting national dignitaries, drank, gambled, and hatched deals in the White Elephant’s comfortable atmosphere.”

For your Albuquerque history reading enjoyment, the following is an anecdote from the same book:

“For long, gambling with both legal and wide open in Albuquerque.  Town authorities relied heavily upon the sale of saloon licenses and upon the fines imposed for disturbances at the gambling tables to help maintain the municipal government.  Since no stigma was attached to games of chance, distinguished pillars of the community indulged openly.  One prominent gambling addict was Judge William C. Heacock, who could be found most nights whiling away his time at three-card monte.  Whenever he went broke, he called in a town deputy and said, ‘Get me a drunk with money in his pockets who is guilty of disorderly conduct.’  Upon the deputy’s return with a qualified miscreant, the judge held an impromptu trial, imposed a fine that matched the amount of money in the culprit’s wallet, and, thus enriched, continued his game.”

I’m having fun–come on along!




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