Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nevada Ghost Towns

All last week Dave and I wondered what we were going to do for Labor Day. We threw around the ideas of going to California and playing on the beach, going camping north of Pahrump, or exploring some of Southern Nevada's ghost towns. From the title of the post, can you guess which one we did? :D

We started out the day with a trip to McDonald's at midnight to celebrate the Monday holiday right away. Then we slept in until past 8am, which was a present to me from Dave. He knows how much I love sleeping in, but he is not really a sleep-in person. After getting ready, grocery shopping, and packing a lunch, we headed out on the road.

The rest of the post is really just a bunch of pictures of a couple of ghost towns north of here. So if that sounds boring, skip the rest. But we really enjoyed our Labor Day. We got lots of exercise walking around among the ruins, we got a little sun, and we had a lot of fun exploring and talking to a couple of people who volunteer as guides in the ghost town of Rhyolite.

What did you do for your Labor Day?

Here is a view of the Nevada desert wilderness.  It really is surprising how deceiving distances in the desert are.  It takes forever to get to places that don't seem that far.

The sign for Rhyolite, which is the biggest ghost town in Southern Nevada.

At a museum in Rhyolite, there were several statues that a European artist made for display.  I love the ghosts!

This is supposed to be the Last Supper in ghosts.  I guessed correctly, that the artist draped models in cloth that was heavily soaked in plaster, and then took it off when it was dry to make these statues.  Pretty interesting.

The valley that Rhyolite is in is called the Golden Horseshoe because it has so many gold mines in it (around 50).  This mountain has about 17 miles of underground tunnels in it.

And this mountain has about 14 miles of underground tunnels in it.  I think that's amazing.

I thought this statue was great.  It's for a famous miner in this area.  He was alone and really lonely.  Apparently the artist thought that putting in a penguin would make the minor's spirit less lonely.  :D

Okay, now these pictures are of the actual town.  It was interesting to walk down these dirt roads and see what was left.  Rhyolite was a town that began and declined rapidly in the early 1900s.

Several of the buildings, like these, were unidentified.  But if I know what the building was, I'll include that here.

It is unknown what this building originally was.  The interesting thing is that wood is at such a premium in this area that when a building is no longer used, it's wood is taken and used somewhere else.  So this building was moved to Beatty (the closest modern town) after the town of Rhyolite was abandoned.  It stayed there until the 1980s as the town's two-room emergency clinic!  When the town decided to build a new one in the 80s, they gave the building back to Rhyolite so they could include it as part of their ghost town.

This is Tom Kelly's bottle house.  It is made of beer and alcohol bottles and maybe cement.  The man who built it won the land in a raffle, built the house out of bottles that a kid he hired found on the ground around town, and then raffled the house for several hundred dollars.  Sounds like a good deal to me!

He wasn't building the house for himself (and maybe if he had it wouldn't have made a difference) and he didn't wash out the bottles that he was using.  Here is a cork that was in one of the bottles that he used.  The house was repaired in 2005, but it was mostly just stabilized and some of the bottles were replaced.  They were only replaced with bottles from the same time period.

This purple glass is from the time period.  It started out clear, but turned this violet color because of a chemical reaction of some chemical that was in the sand.  Pretty, huh?

Here is the front porch area.  I think it's so cool that he turned bottles upside down in the dirt to make a walkway.

I think that this building was unidentified.  But Dave and I thought the walls were cool and took some pictures.

This building was the school.  The town way over-estimated the demand for the school and the length of time the town would last.

This was the general store.

This was the vault in a bank that was run by the same man that owned the general store.

Some old stove that was sitting on the side of the road.  Doesn't Dave look like a crusty old miner?

This was the Cook Bank, which was right next to the Porter Bank.  Dave and I figured out that the reason a town that small could support two banks (and right next to each other, too) was all of the gold deposits!  Of course!  You can see the vault for this bank on the right side of the building.

Here's a view of the Cook Bank from farther away.  It's quite the majestic building.

A little caboose that was by the train depot.

And here's the train depot.  I think that this must have been restored.  It was in really good condition, at least on the outside.  That's how most of the buildings were that had insides.  When we looked inside any of them, they weren't in great condition and they had tons of trash in them.

And of course we found trash on the ground too.  Lots of broken glass.  And these piles of cans that we saw in certain places indicate that a house was located here before the wood was hauled off somewhere else (at least, that's what we think).

We saw some wild life.  These were some kind of strange bird that I've never seen before.

A lizard.  We also saw huge jack rabbits, but we couldn't get pictures of them because they moved too fast.

This is one of the restored residences.

Fun stuff.

This is the Rhyolite jail.  That door that you can see is closed and the cells of the jail are blocked off so you can't see them.

But here are the windows with bars.

This is an unidentified building in Bullfrog.  Bullfrog was a rival town that started up just down the hill from Rhyolite (and I mean JUST down the hill; I thought it was part of the same town), and that died out really quickly when the people in Rhyolite offered them free land to move up to their town.

But of course it had its own jail.  This is the oldest building in this area.

And Rhyolite and Bullfrog shared a cemetary.

It was interesting to walk around and see the few graves that were there. Many of them were surrounded by railings like this, but had no marker to say who was buried there.  This one was small, for a child.

All in all, it was a fun day exploring two of Nevada's ghost towns.


  1. I love that glass bottle house! I think the idea of going to the ghost towns is so fun! I walked around Jerome for the first time earlier this year with a friend and it makes me want to explore the small towns around Flag more!

  2. Merry looks so sad in jail. Don't be sad Merry, C. David will bust you out. Though it looks like he should have been a miner instead of a lawyer.

  3. your post made me smile. Bill and I went to Rhyolite last summer when we were in Las Vegas. What a fun little place.

  4. WHOA you weren't kidding! Holy cow! You two are adorable, I love all the fun pictures! What a fun but yet creepy little ghost town. Haha! Laughed at the pics, so great!

  5. So fun!! I miss those random trips with just the hubby!