Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rhyolite Ghost Town - 10/12/14

Four miles west of Beatty (about 100 miles north of Las Vegas) on Highway 372 is the ghost town of Rhyolite. Like many of the early mining towns in Nevada, the discovery of gold in 1905 created a gold rush and real estate boom. By 1907 the population had reached 8,000 and the town had 3-story office buildings built of stone and concrete, banks, churches, an opera house, hotels, a school and many streets with plumbing, electricity, and telephone service. Speculative shares in mining claims were sold in New York and San Francisco. However, it was determined that the mines were over-valued and the sharp decline began. By 1911 only $2 million in gold had been found and the primary mine closed. In 1920 the population was 14.

When we arrived at Rhyolite, our first stop was at the Goldwell Open Air Museum (see separate post on this interesting outdoor sculpture park). We also picked up a brochure for the self-guided tour of Rhyolite for $.50.

Tom Kelly Bottle House built in 1905-06.

It took him less than 6 months to build the 3-bedroom house using 30,000 bottles.

He raffled it off by selling tickets for $5 each. It was a family residence for many years.

Miners Union Hall.

Rhyolite School opened in 1909. Construction cost $20k equivalent to about $480k today.

Porter Brothers general store operated 1906-1910.

Overbury Building (1907) housed a bank and businesses. It cost $45k at the time which is over $1M today.

Cook Bank, 1908. The post office was in the basement, bank on main floor and businesses on the upper floors. The cost was $90k equivalent to over $2M today.

LV&T (Las Vegas and Tonapoh) Depot (1909). This was the largest of three train stations in Rhyolite.

Adobe Dance Hall and Brothel (1905).

Originally built as a two-room miners cabin (1905) which later became a brothel.

If walls could talk...
Rhyolite Jail (1907).

I bailed out these two prisoners...because I thought they were so darn cute!

Mona Bell's Grave. A "lady of the evening," she was murdered by her boyfriend. The ladies of Rhyolite would not allow her to be buried in the town cemetery, so she was buried behind the jail near the red light district. Even today her grave is visited where flowers and mementoes are left in remembrance.
Railroad car.

Views of the landscape around Rhyolite.

We had a great time exploring this ghost town. There were such high expectations when many of the buildings were built in this town, but the dreams were dashed just a few years later.

Admission is free. Rhyolite is 4 miles west of Beatty, NV, and about 5 miles west of the entrance to Death Valley National Park.

Website: www.rhyolitesite.com

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