Thursday, August 18, 2011

Travelodge Chips Unearthed in Carson City

Photos courtesy of Sheldon Smith
By Sheldon Smith

Mike Olson was driving home from work and stopped at the local AM/PM next to the closed Ormsby House casino to grab a soda. He noticed a couple of grown men playing in a sand pile behind the store. Olson got out of his car and walked over to the pile and asked what was going on…then he saw them, CHIPS…many, many CHIPS!

That prompted Olson to call his good and knowledgeable friend Doug Johnson, a veteran chip collector and member of the Casino Chip & Gaming Token Collectors Club (CC&GTCC). Johnson hopped in his truck and drove to the pile of sand and looked in among the diggers, some from as far away as Salt Lake City, and began digging himself. The chips were from a casino in Carson City named Travelodge Hotel, which was in business only a year before shutting its doors in 1979. Doug thought, how could these chips be here?

The Nevada Gaming Commission regulations regarding closed or changed-hands casinos are very clear—the chips are to be destroyed. Well, apparently back in the early ’80s when these chips were to be destroyed, the concept was a little looser. They were buried!

The story gets even more interesting. Chip-collector records indicate that there were only $5 chips known from the Travelodge, and, yet, in the dig were $5, $25, and $100 chips.

The sand pile was on private property, and, lo and behold, Al Fiegehen, who owns the AM/PM lot, talked to Johnson and said he didn’t want anything to do with the chips—but that he would permit the dig. Fiegehen, the principal owner of the Cubix Corporation in Carson City, is also the owner of a gaming license for the Ormsby Hotel, planned to reopen some time in the future.

Records indicate the Travelodge was only open for about a year. According to Roger Baugh, a longtime Carson resident, it became the Mother Lode after that. Baugh claims Senator Paul Laxalt owned the Travelodge and Mother Lode at one time.

But back to the chips! They are currently on eBay without any indication of the vast quantities that have been uncovered. Wanting to get the word out on the find, Johnson created his own eBay listing: “Huge hoard of chips found this week! Possibly 20,000 chips found! First picture shows what a little cleaning can do.”

Note: Nevada Magazine claims no factual responsibility for the information presented in this blog.

The Travelodge was open for business from 1978 to '79.


  1. thanks for post this.