I was listening to Sword and Scale on my train ride home, a notoriously gruesome podcast, that I was hoping would err on the side of being more thrilling than gory, when I discovered this wild story about Harveys Casino in Lake Tahoe.
My grandparents have had a house in Tahoe forever. For years, my siblings and I ventured to Tahoe and went on skiing, boating and casino excursions. Tahoe is actually where I consistently saw the Harry Potter films. (I’ll never forget my grandma shrieking when Professor Trelawney had a particularly shocking vision.) Anyway, because Noni likes to live by her own rules, my Tahoe adventures also included a visit to Cher’s open house, where we all actively pretended to be prospective buyers…
So, the Harveys story. In 1980, a bomb disguised as an IBM delivery was placed in the main offices of the casino. It contained 100 sticks of dynamite– enough to have catastrophic effects on Harveys and the casino across the road. Nobody knew why it had been placed there, but they were aware that it was a highly sophisticated bomb, with eight triggers. (To this day, according to Sword and Scale, high-level policing forces use the model as tactical practice.) Requested to deliver a ransom via helicopter, when the police force was unsuccessful, they set off what they believed to be was a controlled explosion.
Harveys was entirely destroyed! Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the damage was only to the property. Ultimately, the bomb had been constructed by a self-proclaimed inventor and heavy-gambler, ‘Big John,’ who was in debt with the casino. Interestingly enough, a lot of locals capitalized on the bombing, selling souvenir t-shirts…
There are a ton of details that I have completely neglected to mention, so check out the beginning of Episode 70 of Sword and Scale for more information! Otherwise, I called my grandparents this past weekend, and NEITHER of them had heard of this occurrence. Noni went as far as to ask me to Google it, because it couldn’t possibly be true. “That’s very strange, Avery. I don’t believe it.” (It’s true.) “I know of Harveys, of course I know of Harveys…but I’m certain there’s never been a bombing there.” “Are you sure, Noni?” “Google it, Avery.”
Does anyone from Lake Tahoe or around the West Coast remember this?
Also, it’s really annoying me that it’s Harveys Casino, not Harvey’s Casino. 😦