On many days out here the wind whistles through town with a vengeance and if you sit long enough and listen long enough you might start to hear things in the wind...
...there are a lot of tales and ghosts...
Rhyolite, Nevada, sits lonely in the wind and sun and time wears it down in little bits and pieces that fall away with the passing years. This is one of the better known ghost towns in Nevada, one of the most accessible and its story is pretty typical of old western mining towns everywhere...
We visited with Clint Boehringer, a Bureau of Land Management Volunteer. "February of 1905, they wasn't nobody in Rhyolite. Then things started booming. By 1906 they was 1,000's of people...why you just couldn't believe it. By the end of 1906 we had three railroads came in here..."
It was because they found gold in the hills nearby and the town had all the amenities...even a stock exchange and plenty of lawyers...it was...
"Well, a purty good place to come. Purty civilized for where it was at the time..."
Probably the most photographed building in town is the cook Bank...which cost $90,000 to build in 1907. It was a very luxurious building. It had mahogany walls and floors.
All the lawyers were upstairs and put their money in the bank downstairs and the town catered to the miners. Rhyolite's fortunes rose and fell and they had an ice cream parlor and an orchestra and a school.
But, the gold played out and people left as fast as they came...except...for guys like tom Kelley, a musician from Australia. Built a house out of bottles. Clint say it was because he didn't have any bricks. It's mostly beer bottles but sarsaparilla bottles are in the walls and worchestershire bottles and any other thing he could dig up, or drink up.
Also spend some time looking at the "Sculpture Garden" as you come into town. A ghostly rendition of the Last Supper by a Belgin Artist fascinated by the vastness of the American West. Another Belgian Expressionist is responsible for "The Miner and his Faithful Penguin." And then wait around 'til late afternoon when long shadows creep and incessant wind abates and dusty silence shrouds the dark corners and you've found the perfect time to contemplate an old ghost town.
Drive NW out of Las Vegas, NV on highway 95 about 120 miles to Beatty, NV. Then take highway 374 west out of Beatty about 4 miles to the turnoff to Rhyolite. It's marked and will turn off to the NW. You can pretty much roam around at will except for the places marked "private property." If you trespass, you might receive a not-too-friendly response. Pictures are great late in the afternoon.
Don't know if Clint is still there, but he's an interesting character if he is. He lived close to the bottle house.
Beatty is a small town with several casinos and several motels and restaurants. If you continue on west on 374, it'll take you into Death Valley. Another interesting place to visit is Scotty's Castle. Go 36 miles on up 95 to Scotty's Junction, then west on 267, 21 miles to Scotty's Castle. This is also another entrance into Death Valley. There's a very nice hotel and casino and hotel at Scotty's Junction.