The Utah-Nevada Border Inn
The Border Inn sits just outside Baker, Nevada along Highway 50. It straddles the border … literally. On the Nevada side, you can get a breakfast beer, play a slot machine, and buy coffee. On the Utah side, you can fill up on gasoline or rent a motel room. It’s a good illustration of how porous our state laws are. Don’t like the Boston sales tax? Do your shopping a few miles away in New Hampshire. Don’t like the Chicago cigarette tax? Bootleg some from Indiana.
Anyway, I have a theory on Nevada. I think Utah built it, or, more accurately, caused it. Without Utah, there’d be no Nevada. Utah’s excessive morality triggered Nevada’s ridiculous hedonism.
Think about it — here’s a state with strict sexual practices and militant morality. A bunch of dudes want to get laid, but they already have too many mouths to feed. What’s a man to do? Well, cross the state line into Nevada where prostitution is legal. There’s probably always been an “inn” on the border.
Interestingly, Nevada was part of the Utah Territory until 1861. It split off and became a state in 1864. Prostitution has been legal in Nevada since the middle of the 19th century (maybe they split off due to the demand of market forces).
At the same time, during the middle of the 1800s, polygamy was under fire in Utah. It was eventually outlawed in 1890. Utah finally was admitted as a state in 1896. One lesson seems to be that if you wanted to join the Union, it was better to allow prostitutes than polygamists.
Anyway, we’re leaving Nevada behind, the land of the easy divorce, no income tax, loose incorporation laws, prostitution, gambling, and gay marriage. We’re headed into Utah, where bars are scarce and coffee shops scarcer. Maybe we’ll just drink Mormon Tea like the early Mormon settlers. It’s a stimulant that seems to have slipped through the cracks of the rule book. Or maybe it’s just like Nevada, the natural outcome of strict suppression, a drink that’s bending to the demands of the market. Righteousness is more complicated than it seems.