Star power and firepower fill the space at the Sparks TA
Elvis is in the building. Well, some of his possessions are anyway. Visitors to the Sparks, Nev. TA will find a lot of Presley memorabilia, alongside one of the most impressive gun collections in the U.S.
It all began in the 1980s when Sid Doan, Jr., the original owner of the truckstop (back then it was Union 76) stuffed $20,000 into his boots and flew out to Memphis to see the Elvis Presley Collection.
“I was a kid back then, but I remember my dad coming back,” says Marcy Barba, who now runs the Sierra Sid’s Casino at the location. “I asked him if he got the guns and he said, ‘No, she told me I was light. I have to stuff another $20,000 in my boots and fly back out tomorrow.’”
The Elvis collection now resides at the casino at the Sparks TA. It includes jewelry, such as an 1.8-carat canary yellow diamond ring and two guns Presley brought back from Germany. It’s part of the largest commemorative gun collection in the country, with 230 pistols and 50 rifles on display. Visitors can examine those items alongside guns from the Civil War era and the Old West.
Silver screen collectibles include a replica of the “Do you feel lucky?” 44 magnum used in the movie Dirty Harry, and a pair of spurs worn by John Wayne. Authentic World War II-era American flags from Iwo Jima and the Mannheim prison liberation are also on display.
Present company exceptional
Miles Alton, store, fuel and property manager, says, “We have a great team, everyone jumps in to help. It’s a big family here and it’s pretty cool for the drivers to experience our camaraderie.”
Sierra Sid’s Casino is all about the games. “We have a small casino, which gives us the opportunity to have one-on-one relationships with our customers,” says Barba. “And we don’t serve alcohol. When a regular comes in, we know which machine they prefer and have their favorite coffee or soda to them right when they sit down.”
The all-you-can-eat Trucker’s Grille was recently revamped. The restaurant features a ’50s style diner décor with a twist. Instead of posters, truck grilles hang on the wall.
Around Labor Day, attendees of the annual Burning Man arts festival often drop by. People in wild makeup and a week’s worth of camping-out grime are a sight to see before they hit the showers to clean up. But Alton says they are laid- back, great people to have around.
A little more Elvis
Elvis’ tour bus was stopped at Sparks on the day he died. The driver offered Sid everything in the bus for $250,000, including Elvis’ show clothes. Sid felt the price was too steep, but once said that if he had the chance again, he would’ve gotten that money somehow.