Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ghost Rhyolite

Four miles west of Beatty on NV 374 is what remains of Rhyolite.

A brief history of Rhyolite: it was the third largest city in Nevada by 1908. And the population reached approximately 8,000 in the city, with a total of 10,000 in the Bullfrog Mining District. The town that was to last forever struggled from its beginning in 1904 to its end in 1919.

Today Rhyolite is a ghost town of dreams.

Along with the sadness associated with a town's remains there is a sense of mystery, some surprising features, and some attempts, albeit temporary, at rebirth.

I believe this outer wall is all that is left of the office of The Indian Springs Water Company, as well as Newton's Grill.
On the edge of town is the Tom Kelly Bottle House. Built in 1906 in 5-1/2 months by Mr. Kelly using 30,000 bottles (most emptied of a beverage of Adulphous Busch's). Finding that many bottles may not have been as difficult as it might seem given that there were 53 saloons in town.
Mr. Kelly never did live in the house. He raffled it off with tickets selling for $5 each. The winner lived in the three-room house until 1914.

The house was used in a movie called The Airmail in 1925. (It was interesting to learn that a movie was made in Rhyolite in 1924 entitled Wanderers of the Wasteland.)

The house was rehabilitated in 2005.
The first schoolhouse was a small wooden structure opening in September 1906 with a total of 28 students. By February 1907 they were turning students away from the door. The student population had grown to an astounding 250 children.

The second schoolhouse (background in the photo below) was photographed while standing in the John T. Overbury building.
The schoolhouse (below) was completed in January of 1909, but by the time they finished the new school, people were already starting to move out of town. There just weren't enough children to fill the school.
Barely any signs of the Miners' Union Hall exist beyond the rough outline of the dimensions of the building.
The Overbury building was a three-story structure. It opened in June 1907 and housed the First National Bank of Rhyolite. Later, it housed a jewelry store and offices.
The Porter Brothers arrived in 1905 with 18 wagon loads of merchandise and built a store. The HD & LD Porter Store was the leading merchant in Rhyolite; the sign outside their store read: "All Things Good But Whiskey."

They sold groceries and fresh vegetables, clothing, mining supplies, hardware, lumber, furniture, hay, grain, and Studebaker wagons from this store. The store also offered freight animals for rent.
Then we came upon "the most photographed ruin in the state of Nevada"--the Cook Bank Building.

Constructed in 1907, the building was made of reinforced concrete with walls 26 to 36 inches thick. It boasted a stairway made of Italian marble; windows of stained glass from Italy; and baseboards of Honduras mahogany.

The bank opened for business in January, 1908, but it was shortly absorbed by the First National Bank of Rhyolite.

The post office then moved into the basement.
On December 14, 1906 the first train pulled into Rhyolite at the freight depot. There were three railroad lines in Rhyolite, the next one was the Bullfrog Goldfield line that came in June of 1907. And the last one used the same tracks as the B & G and was called the Tonopah Tidewater. In fact, there were enough side tracks to have 100 cars just sitting there.

Construction on the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad Depot was completed in 1908, and there were soon three railroad lines in Rhyolite. But by 1916, there was only a stub line going into Rhyolite. The depot was no longer in use and by late 1917 the rails were pulled up to reuse the iron for WWI.
During Rhyolite’s brief reign of glory, more than eighty-five mining companies were active in the hills around the city. The financial panic of 1907 spelled doom for Rhyolite. Then, the gold and silver mines started to play out, and by 1916, the power and light company had shut down and the people had moved on.

The black and white photos seemed appropriate for the ghost town, but below are color photos of some of the same buildings.

Historical information was obtained from and

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