The senator from Searchlight no more -- Harry Reid moving to Vegas

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Reporting from Washington

It’s the end of an era: Harry Reid, the senator famously from the dusty, desert mining town of Searchlight, Nev., is relocating to Las Vegas.

The Democratic leader’s office announced Monday that Reid and his wife, Landra, his high school sweetheart of 50-plus years, are selling their home in the forlorn little town to be closer to their children and grandchildren in Vegas.

The senator made at least a handsome $1.7 million off the deal, dispatching not only with the hardscrabble land where Reid was raised, but also the mining and water rights beneath it.


But some things money can’t buy -- among them, the lessons learned from a childhood in Searchlight, which has become as much a part of Reid’s personal political narrative as his rough-edged rants as the Senate majority leader.

As a kid, Reid mined the rocky earth with his alcoholic father, who never struck it rich from the endeavor and eventually committed suicide at home. For fun, the future senator and the other children would swim in a pool at one of the town’s brothels. There were no churches.

“Searchlight never became a ghost town, but it sure tried,” Reid wrote in his autobiography.

Reid’s office said the senator sold off 110 acres with eight claims to Nevada Milling and Mining to develop a gold mine, and two additional mining claims not included in the sale price were sold to American Capital Energy.

Hard-rock mining remains a not-so-secret weapon fueling the Silver State’s economy, a nearly- $7-billion-a-year industry. Even before gold topped $1,000 an ounce some years ago, a new gold rush was underway. Nevada mines enough gold to make it among the world’s top producers -- and a constant source of complaint among environmentalists.

Reid has owned mining claims around Searchlight for years, as Congress tried, and failed, to update federal mining laws.


The senator spends more time in Washington these days, where his home is a condo at the Ritz-Carlton, especially after his wife was critically injured in a car crash a few years ago and then treated for breast cancer.

Leaving the desert for the glitter of Vegas marks a turning point for the 74-year-old senator, even though the road from Searchlight remains the one most traveled.