With well over 500 listed “ghost towns” and mining camps in Nevada, it is a fun place to visit…especially around this time of year!!
One of the best ghost towns in Nevada, Rhyolite is full of character and lots of great stories. This town, founded in 1904, had a population of up to 10,000 at one time. Though by the looks of things now, you’d never know it.
The history of Rhyolite is much like other fast-booming towns in the early 1900’s Wild West. Following a rich strike of ore, 2 men, Eddie Cross and “Shorty” Harris built a town to accommodate an influx of people in the thousands. A train station, 2 schools, and $90,000 bank were quickly built. And the town filled….quickly.
Rhyolite reached it’s peak in 1907, boasting 45 saloons, an opera-house, several dance halls, 2 railroad depots, and 3 public swimming pools. In January 1907, 400 electric streetlight poles were erected to light the town 24-hours a day.
During this time, 85 mining companies set up shop in the hills surrounding the “small” town. The financial panic of 1907 spelled doom for Rhyolite. Most of the towns investors were from back East and when they pulled out their backing, most of the mining companies were forced to shut down. And by the Spring of 1908, most trains pulling out of Rhyolite were filled with people leaving town. By 1909, the population was well under 1000 and over the next 10 years, had shrunk down to a measly 14 residents.
Rhyolite is located 4 miles west of the town of Beatty, Nevada on Highway 374. Many structures, though crumbling and desolate, are still standing. I was lucky enough as a child in the very early 90’s to have seen Rhyolite. I remember overwhelming feeling of history as I stood in the center of “town”. The quietness of the Nevada desert provides an eerie backdrop to this well-known host town. And it is just as you would picture it – the wind whistles through the cold, stone structures. Dirt and grit blows all over you. And you can’t help but feel a little bit sad knowing what “could have been” for the residents of Rhyolite.
Recently, the “Ghosts of Rhyolite” were created on the outskirts of town by a Polish artist, Albert Szukalski.
For a fascinating online historical tour of Rhyolite, please visit the Rhyolite Site Hear stories of many of the famous buildings, such as the Glass Bottle House and the Cook Bank. My thanks to this great website for reminding me what a gold mine (no pun intended) this fun town really was.
All photos credit to Rhyolite Site