Maybe it was curiosity that prompted us to seek out the Rhyolite Ghost Town. Now who wouldn’t want to see what a ghost town looks like and learn a bit of its history?
When we arrived at Rhyolite, we weren’t alone. While it would have been kind of cool to see a ghost hanging around, because what else would a ghost town have besides old buildings, but maybe a ghost or two? There were no ghosts, but quite a few people roaming around checking out the ghost town.
Founded in 1904 and dead by 1916, Rhyolite was one of several short lived boom-towns from the late Gold Rush era. People were drawn to the desert on the edge of Death Valley by the promise of gold found amongst quartz in local mines, and by 1906 the town had all the promising indicators of permanence with largest population in the area.
According to the US National Park Service: “The town immediately boomed with buildings springing up everywhere. One building was 3 stories tall and cost $90,000 to build. A stock exchange and Board of Trade were formed. The red light district drew women from as far away as San Francisco. There were hotels, stores, a school for 250 children, an ice plant, two electric plants, foundries and machine shops and even a miner’s union hospital.”
Empty hulks of the three story bank, the general store, and smaller buildings remain. Also, there is an impressive looking train station.
One building still standing today in Rhyolite that was made from 10,000 beer bottles of which there was no shortage in Rhyolite.
The financial panic of 1907 took its toll on Rhyolite and was seen as the beginning of the end for the town. In the next few years mines started closing and banks failed. Newspapers went out of business, and by 1910 the production at the mill had slowed to $246,661 and there were only 611 residents in the town. On March 14, 1911 the directors voted to close down the Montgomery Shoshone mine and mill. In 1916 the light and power were finally turned off in the town.
It was interesting looking at the buildings and ruins of buildings. One could almost imagine what it must have been like when the town was a bustling community.
This is a must see stop if you are interested in history or just curious about ghost towns.