Laura Cavaness boasted a new uniform as she set out for another day of tidying tented cabins, dusting antique trinkets and clearing the cobwebs that each night seem to emerge from the desert.
For seven months, the 53-year-old Indiana native has lived in Nipton – on the edge of San Bernardino County, a few miles from the Nevada border – with her husband, Carl, their two children and three grandchildren. Together, the couple serves as caretakers for the hundred-year-old Hotel Nipton.
Cavaness recently traded her cotton T-shirt for one made from hemp. Stamped in yellow across the pale green top was the logo for American Green, the cannabis company that wants to buy her entire town.
“They gave me this,” Cavaness said, grinning and pointing to the name on her shirt. “We’re hoping to be able to work for them.”
More than a century ago, a gold rush gave birth to what was then known as Nippeno Camp. Today, a green rush – spurred by the marijuana legalization movement – is stirring hopes of new life for Nipton.
American Green is in escrow to buy the 120-acre community, which is home to the Cavaness family and another dozen people, a handful of businesses and a tradition of dreaming big.
The Phoenix-based company wants to modernize Nipton’s five-room hotel and “eco-lodge” cabins. It would upgrade the quirky general store, one-room schoolhouse and RV park. It wants to reopen the Whistlestop Café, which has been shuttered since spring, and add more lodging, food options, a music venue and other amenities.
The goal is to convince visitors to venture 12 miles off the busy highway that connects Southern California with Las Vegas.
And American Green hopes to seal the deal with one key ingredient: marijuana.
The company aims to follow the lead of weed-friendly resorts in Colorado, with future Nipton guests invited to partake in their hotel rooms, attend cannabis-infused dinner parties and soak in medicated pools. And if American Green officials can find a way to loosen strict local bans on the industry, they eventually would like to dedicate the area’s more remote acreage to cultivating and processing marijuana products that can be loaded onto trains that rumble through Nipton each day.
American Green’s vision adds Nipton to a growing list of…