Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct a misspelling.
When a successful Las Vegas company known for its entertainment and adult-themed shows looks to expand, one might think of New York City, Los Angeles, London or Paris.
But just like the mind-bending absurdity of some of its acts — it chose the tiny town of Nipton, California, to expand — population 15 (or 20 depending on who you ask).
Spiegelworld, the company that produces Absinthe at Caesars Palace, the Atomic Saloon Show at The Venetian, and OPM at Cosmopolitan has confirmed it is the buyer of Nipton, which is located in San Bernardino County’s Ivanpah Valley roughly 12 miles southeast of Primm, Nevada.
KTLA sister station KLAS first reported on the sale of the town for $2.75 million in April of 2022.
“It will be a living town where Spiegelworld artists and performers will retreat to dream, create, and undertake unfettered artistic experimentation which will feed into the creation of Spiegelworld’s world-class shows,” Spiegelworld said in a news release. “It will also be a place where visitors and passers-by can have an experience unlike anything else.”
Nipton has railroad tracks on one side and a massive Joshua tree forest on the other in the Mojave National Preserve. The tiny desert town along California State Route 164 attracts stargazers, motorcycle riders, photographers, railroad buffs and others seeking to escape city life, if just for a day.
“Having a rambunctious circus company purchase a small town may sound like the Schitt’s Creek spin-off series. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Spiegelworld’s Impresario Extraordinaire Ross Mollison said. “When we visited as guests a few years back, we fell in love with the peacefulness, the vast desert vistas, and the fireside chats with freight train drivers, miners, and workers. Jim Eslinger, the self-proclaimed mayor of Nipton, warned me that you need to have respect for the Mojave, and the desert will tell you if it is happy or unhappy with what you’re doing.”
Spiegelworld has already created several online pages dedicated to Nipton, also now being called “Circus Town,” including an Instagram page @circustownusa.
A long, strange history
Roxanne Lang and her late husband Jerry Freeman worked and lived in Ivanpah Valley, where Nipton is located, for over 50 years. Freeman came to Nipton in the 1960s on the Union Pacific Railroad line from Los Angeles. Nipton was founded in 1905, a few months before Las Vegas was founded. And similar to Las Vegas, Nipton came into existence when the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad arrived. It was the crossroads for two different wagon trails and a mining camp, and it became a center for area cattle ranchers, including Hollywood royalty Rex Bell and Clara Bow.
It has been sold several times before. In 2017 it was bought by a large cannabis company for $5 million. The company tried to rebrand it as Magical Nipton. The company had ambitious plans to turn it into a cannabis retreat. It spent a lot of money on infrastructure, built several eco-cabins, and comfy teepees for visitors installed massive public art pieces and did restoration work on some of the historic structures. But the cannabis retreat didn’t materialize, so the town reverted to its previous owner.
In Nipton, Spiegelworld plans to create an “art-directed, luxury accommodation and restaurant experience for a limited number of visitors.” It said it will also be keeping Nipton’s existing large-scale sculpture commissions with an artist-in-residence program.
“Spiegelworld performers and artists are already embracing the potential of Nipton and are excited to get involved in the creative direction of the town, the restaurant, accommodation, artist retreats, and small festivals we plan to present,” Mollison said. “Nipton will showcase the beauty of our circus family and I simply can’t wait to share that community under the magical desert stars.”
Spiegelworld Takes On F1?
At the end of the news release announcing the purchase, Spiegelworld hinted at an upcoming project, “Spiegelworld will be housing a creative team in Nipton led by Spiegelworld comic artists Max Baumgarten and Wayne Wilson to develop ideas for a show inspired by the Las Vegas arrival of the 2023 Formula 1 Grand Prix.”