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Richard Moreno, WIU's director of student publications, is the author of "Nevada Curiosities," published by Globe-Pequot Press. Moreno, who lived and worked in Nevada for 25 years, has written extensively about the Silver State.
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Western Courier Director Pens New Nevada Book

December 8, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- Richard Moreno has spent a fair amount of time traveling in what used to be his backyard of Nevada. Now the Director of Student Publications and the "Western Courier" at Western Illinois University, he doesn't get to spend much time motoring around the Silver State. But recently Moreno has been able to revisit Nevada's uniqueness in "Nevada Curiosities," a new book in which he covers some of the state's "oddest, wackiest and most offbeat people, places and things," noted a Globe-Pequot Press release.

"I spent more than 25 years in Nevada, and during that time was fortunate to have jobs that required me to travel around the state. I was a reporter at the 'Reno Gazette-Journal' for four years, then spent almost 8 years as the director of public relations and marketing for the Nevada Commission on Tourism. For 14 years prior to coming to Western, I was the publisher of 'Nevada Magazine' and a frequent contributor to the publication," Moreno explained.

During most of Moreno's time in Nevada, he also wrote "The Backyard Traveler," a weekly travel-history newspaper column for two newspapers.

"I learned a lot about Nevada history and places as a result of that," he said. "In 'Nevada Curiosities,' I have been to nearly all of the places documented in the book but didn't have a chance to attend all of the special events mentioned. For example, somehow I missed the 'Mountain Oyster Fry' in Virginia City (a sheep testicle-cooking competition), although I was once invited to be a judge," he added.

Honored with a Nevada Writers Hall of Fame award in 2007, Moreno has researched and written other Silver State-themed books including, "Roadside History of Nevada," "Nevada Trivia Book" and "Endless Nevada." Moreno noted he also took about 80 percent of the photographs that appear in "Nevada Curiosities."

One of Moreno's favorite "Nevada Curiosities" is the house of Dr. Lonnie Hammergren, a brain surgeon and a former Nevada lieutenant governor.

"Once a year, Dr. Hammergren opens the gates to his house, which is really a huge compound of several homes (his former neighbors complained, so he bought their homes), all connected together and filled with the strangest junk, like the roller coaster formerly on the top of the Stratosphere Tower, neon casinos signs, an Egyptian tomb with a mummy (real), the first Las Vegas jail and a scale model of Hoover Dam," Moreno said.

He also pointed out Nevada's "Shoe Tree," a cottonwood tree -- draped with hundreds of pairs of shoes -- adjacent to U.S. 50 near Middlegate in the central part of the state.

"There's a story about how some newlyweds got into an argument after stopping near the tree, so the husband tied his wife's sneakers together and tossed them in the tree, then left her there! He came back, they made up and supposedly she made him toss his shoes in the tree, and a legend was born," he said.

Among the other curiosities Moreno writes about in "Nevada Curiosities":

  • Where to find the world's most expensive hamburger and a café devoted almost entirely to chocolate;
  • The location of the world rock-paper-scissors championship and
    of the Laundromat owned by the "Notorious Hollywood Madam"; and
  • How to Survive the "Loneliest Road in America."

"The subject matter of 'Nevada Curiosities' is bizarre but fun," said Moreno of his latest tome, "which is what made this book so fun to write."

"Nevada Curiosities" is published by Globe-Pequot Press and is available online at Amazon, as well as at other major bookstores. For more information, contact Moreno at (309) 298-1876 or

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing