Foundations from a by-gone era
What brings about the feel of the old west more than standing alone among the ruins of a once prosperous mining town surrounded by colorful mountains that have seen their share of gold? As a gentle breeze moves across my face, I can close my eyes and almost hear the sounds of 10,000 residents coming and going from the numerous salons, restaurants and large school house.
Rhyolite is one of my favorite ghost towns to wander through and explore because most of the structures are well preserved and still standing tall against the colorful mountains. Also, Rhyolite just happens to be located slightly off the road on the way to the eastern entrance of Death Valley National Park.
In 1904, two prospectors Shorty Harris and E. L. Cross happened upon a hill with so much quartz that it was "just full of free gold". This area was only five miles from the Beatty Ranch which evolved into the small desert town of Beatty and is one of the last outposts for supplies before entering Death Valley from the east. One of the first mining camps was called Bullfrog and soon the rush was on! A town site was laid out nearby named Rhyolite due to all the silica-rich volcanic rock in the area.
Rhyolite was one of those boom towns that grew almost over night with saloons, restaurants, boardinghouses and by 1906 Countess Morajeski opened the Alaska Glacier Ice Cream Parlor!
The John S. Cook & Co. Bank building was 3 stories tall.
The Bank cost $90,000 to build and had a safe that could hold one million dollars in coin.
Rhyolite two story school house and large auditorium with enough space for 250 children.
The HD & LD Porter Store that sold everything a mining town could need, their slogan was
"We handle all things but whiskey".
In the distance is the Las Vegas and Tonopah Train Depot.
Rhyolite Jail House and the stories it might hold!
The town had a pretty prosperous "red light district", drawing the ladies from larger cities like San Francisco.
Times were good for Rhyolite until the financial panic of 1907, banks began to fail and the mines started shutting down.
Thus began the demise of Rhyolite, businesses slowly closed their doors and the population dwindled down from the 10,000 to just 611 residents.
Today, Rhyolite stands as historical testament of a by-gone era that was once a prosperous mining town in rural Nevada.
What a privilege it is to wander around and admire the remains of buildings that refuse to succumb to the harsh desert conditions.
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