What does it take to topple an aging Las Vegas Casino?

When it comes to the 200-room hotel and casino known as the Clarion, a mere 2-ton explosive punch simply wouldn’t do the job. Workers were forced to improvise after the elevator shaft of the 45 year old structure refused to collapse following planned explosions in the early hours of February 10, just off of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Despite a successful detonation, the building’s elevator core remained standing (and leaning), leading officials on an urgent mission to topple the potential safety hazard.

While conventional wisdom may point your thoughts towards the use of a wrecking ball, the building’s demolition crew was forced to improvise when no wrecking balls were immediately available. Instead, the crew used a special ‘lasso’ technique to complete the job. The crew wrapped cables around the unbalanced structure and pulled it over with available equipment.

innerclaroion11022015The Clarion opened in 1970 as the Royal Inn, but it was also referred to as the Debbie Reynolds, the Greek Isles and the Paddle Wheel throughout its lifespan. After several months of planning, its implosion marked the thirteenth time since 1993 that a casino-hotel had been toppled in Sin City. Officials chocked the elevator shaft’s defiance up to bad luck, as the true cause of the unexpected development was still under investigation.

The site of the 12-story structure is expected to see big development in the coming months. With its favorable location near the Las Vegas Convention Center, the site will continue to be prepped for future construction.

Once a major spectacle for visitors to Las Vegas, grand casino implosions have become a much less popular option for developers. The destruction of the Clarion marked the first time since 2007 that a major structure was demolished in the city’s trademark fashion. Despite its reluctance to fall, the aging giant joined the ranks of other imploded casinos including the Stardust and the Aladdin in Sin City lore.

“The era of the big boom as performance piece is over,” Clark County Museum administrator Mark Hall-Patton recently told reporters. “Implosions became too big – middle of the night spectacles that were just over the top. They were victims of their own success.”

innerelevator11022015Among the most monumental planned collapses in Las Vegas history were the Dunes Casino, which was later replaced by the Bellagio, and the Landmark, which was replaced by the Sands in 1996, and whose destruction was prominently featured in the movie Mars Attacks!

“Crowds watched from lawn chairs, some people holding up numbered cards to rate the display, people saying, ‘Well, there goes another piece of Vegas history,’” Hall-Patton recounted. While the implosion of the Clarion may have fallen short of other implosions in terms of fan-fare, its historical significance remains noteworthy, as the days of Vegas’s destruction theater appear to be nearing their conclusion.

Unwilling to go out with a whimper, the Clarion’s elevator shaft added yet another sentence to an unparalleled chapter of Las Vegas’s uniquely fascinating history. Amanda Dickerson, an onlooker to the explosion took a moment to sum up the event. “It was truly amazing,” she said, as the dust had already begun to settle on the history of another Sin City landmark.

Anyways, remember that you don’t need to take a long trip all the way to Las Vegas to experience the fun, you can just pay us a visit right now and start having the time of your life!

Tonya Hollows

A wannabe professional poker and blackjack player. Incredibly positive and an overall rock n' roll kind of girl. She moved from Canada a few years ago to find new horizons, more related to her gambling skills. Ended up working as a casino hostess in Vegas and then became a full time writer for Palace of Chance.

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