Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A real diamond!

The legendary Diamond Saloons

(Kennett & Hilt California)

Victor Eugene Warrens was born February 14, 1876 in Missouri. He was a son of an immigrant farmer, August Warrens, born ca. 1842 in Prussia, and Amanda Elizabeth Keller, born ca. 1850 in Virginia. He was known as "Slim Warren".

As you may know, Kennett Ca, is now at the bottom of the huge man-made Lake Shasta.
Back in it's heyday, it was one of several towns with large copper ore mining operations in the vicinity around the turn of the 20th Century. Mining, coupled with it's close proximity to the Southern Pacific Railroad, insured Kennett's success and it rapidly grew to become the largest (and friskiest) of these towns.
In the early 1900s, there were 40 saloons in Kennett.

The Diamond Saloon was known far and wide as "THE place to go" to get watered down. The atmosphere, ambiance, level of service and quality of goods were unsurpassed. The Diamond Saloon even distilled and bottled its own whiskey. Something that will be of interest shortly.

The saloon pictured was built in 1905 by Victor "Slim"
Warrens in Warren's Diamond Hotel at Kennett. It was named the Diamond Saloon by Warren because of his passion of diamonds. A passion that was a double edged sword; both providing a comfortable lifestyle, and nearly costing him his life.

It was said to have been the fanciest drinking spot between Portland and San Francisco. Furnishings included a "150 ft. long redwood bar", beveled glass mirrors, grape shaped Tiffany chandeliers, and revealing paintings of nearly nude women, courtesy of the liquor wholesalers who contributed generously to the cause. It even sported risque frescoes on the ceiling of equally scantily clad "ladies".

It was a very popular place and was frequented by the thousands of mining men who worked in the nearby copper mines and smelters in the hills above town. It was open 24 hours a day and employed 16 men on each of the three shifts to wait on the many customers.
When Shasta Lake began filling with water in the 1940s, the hotel and saloon still existed and were left standing. The photo below pictures the main street of town as the lake was being filled around 1940. Kennett now sits quietly in the deepest part of Shasta Lake.

His other saloon was located about 120 miles north, also alongside the Southern Pacific tracks, then the main arterial connecting Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Hilt was a large company logging town on the California / Oregon border, dating to just after the turn of the century).

This was the site of Warren's northern outpost who's claim to fame was such;
Daring Hold-Up at Hilt

One of the boldest and most daring robberies that ever took place occurred in his saloon at Hilt. On Saturday night November 16, 1912, two masked men entered the saloon of Victor E. Warren and with drawn revolvers, held up some fifteen men that were in the saloon at the time. The men were covered by the bandits and forced to line up against the wall and were then relieved of whatever cash they happened to have.
Warren, who had a diamond ring which is valued at $1,500, took the ring off and threw it in a corner of the saloon, thinking that the robbers would not see it, but they made a search for it and found it and took it along with the money that they had stolen.
The robbers went through the cash register and got $94.50 out of it. One man was relieved of $65 in cash and some checks on a Portland bank, various sums taken from other men, and it is thought that the amounts stolen would aggregate considerably over two thousand dollars. The hold-up occurred at 10:12 p.m., a bullet from one of the guns went through the clock which stopped at that time. The two men that did the job were thoroughly masked and there is no description of them, other than that one was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, and the other one about 5 feet 1 inches tall. The men were apparently smooth shaven and both wore new belts and pistols. Warren rushed behind the bar and got a revolver and commenced firing on the bandits and emptied his revolver, but without effect. The bandits also returned his fire, but there was no one hit. It is understood that seven shots were fired, and it is a mystery than not one was not killed. A mirror behind the bar was broken, and one shot went through the clock putting it out of commission.
The saloon at Hilt (at least the buildings shell) remained until just a few years ago. It had been relegated to the status of a warehouse and all interior furnishings had long since been removed. Sadly, it was consumed by fire and only the stone foundation now remains.

 Although not common, there are a few tokens in collections.
There are no reported examples of embossed whiskey bottles in existence, be they cylinders or flasks. However, a paper labeled example of a clear fifth, (rumored to exist since the 1950's), recently resurfaced after being squirreled away in a Southern Oregon closet collection for decades!

Talk about an extreme rarity! It is unique.
And look at the graphics!

And so, we are left with a few tokens, photographs,  postcards, memories, and (and one bottle) to remind us of the flamboyant
V. E. Warrens and his passion for The Diamonds.
A quick PS: Based on papers that accompanied the bottle, it appears that "Slim" not only distilled his own whiskey, but also "imported" hard cider from north of the state line.


Dr.Barnes said...

What a Killer Looking Label, Where Do You come up with all this stuff, Out Standing. Rick

philwest said...

Hello, I believe I have one of the pool tables from the diamond bar. If anyone has pics of the inside I would love to see them . Phil 530 966 2438 thanks.

Aaron said...

Victor Warrens was my Great, Great Uncle. I never got to meet him, but have heard so many stories about him. I would love to get my hands on one of the whiskey bottles to bring back to the family history.

Unknown said...

Although rare, the Kennett token is not nearly as scarce as the token with 'Kennett and Hilt' on it

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