Travels in the American Southwest
Belmont
GPS - N38 35.725 W116 52.466
27 miles east of SR376, 40 miles north of US6
Road factor/Accessability - Paved south to US6, graded dirt west to Manhattan
~255 miles from Las Vegas

The few residents that remain to this day are fiercely protective of their town. They take pride in the two story courthouse which was at one time the Nye County Seat before the seat was moved to Tonopah in 1905. As much pride as the original builders did when they built the courthouse with locally made bricks and white stone; A building to last. The building is now listed in the National Historical Register and is closed and sealed, but plexiglass windows allow you to peer into the dust covered rooms inside. Ancient jail cells with strip metal bars are located behind the building. Why are the cells sitting in the backyard of the courthouse? You can see the gaping hole where they were removed from the back of the building. According to Shawn Hall (see below for links to his authorative sites), the cells were taken and brought to Gabbs where they served their intended purpose. When Gabbs built a new jail, the cells were returned to Belmont where they patiently await the day that the courthouse is renovated.

Belmont Courthouse   

Other highlights include the Monitor Inn (recently renamed "The Belmont Inn"), a bed & breakfast which is just up the road from Dirty Dick's Belmont Saloon, established in 1867. The B & B and Dick's houses many of Belmont's treasures such as the bar and original piano which served and entertained folks in Belmont's Cosmopolitan Saloon and Music Hall (which featured stars of the day singing and performing). Recently, the Inn changed hands. Rather than being open only on weekends if guests were expected, it is now open throughout the week, too. I spent a night there around Labor Day, 2001 and had a great stay. The building, with walls two feet thick, originally housed the Combination Silver Mining Company when built back in 1866. It was a stagecoach station back in the late 1880's and unlike the legends of the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Wyatt Earp actually stayed here while in Belmont. For a time, it was known as Philadelphia House , the Monitor Inn (named for the wide valley between the Toquima and Monitor mountain ranges) but is now named for the town.

The inn offers five bedrooms which, as can be expected for something built over 130 years ago, are on the small side, but I saw only three of them.

Two of the rooms I saw have wood-burning stoves, as morning temperatures can be on the frosty side at 7,600', and a shared balcony providing a panoramic view of the Monitor Valley to the south.

   

From the wooden sidewalk to the ancient photos on the walls; From the library collection of a previous resident to the clawfoot bathtubs, the Monitor Inn oozes "Old West".

Pure and tasty water is available in abundance from the deep well, however ice is a precious commodity. While this has no effect on guests during their stay at the inn, ice can not be provided for the coolers of those who are using the inn as a staging location for their explorations of the Monitor Valley. If you'll be needing ice while out in the wilds of Nevada, plan on bringing it with you!

The Monitor Inn includes dinner and breakfast during your stay. Dinner was both plentiful and delicious featuring an enormous salad, fresh bread and manicotti which would make a native of  Italy weep with joy. Breakfast wasn't some "continental breakfast" affair. Fruit, ham & cheese quiche, sweet rolls and "just out of the oven" biscuits left me well nourished for my planned day of exploring. We ate from antique plates and silverware under the watchful gaze of Rose Walter, a lifelong resident of Belmont.

The picture of Rose was taken by J. Bruce Baumann, a staff photographer for the National Geographic magazine. The photograph which beautifully captured the then 81 year old  was taken in the early 70's. According to the June 1974 edition of the National Geographic article by Robert Lexalt, Rose Walter was the sole resident and self-appointed protector of Belmont. White hair with "severe blue eyes", this taller than average woman carried a .44 calibre pistol which she used to dispatch rattlesnakes and dissuade human scavengers who would quickly change their minds about plundering what was left of Belmont. "These old houses, such as they are, still belong to someone somewhere," she's quoted as saying. Rose Walter was by no means a crazy recluse. She just didn't want to move after her husband succumbed to silicosis, a common ailment among miners. As sole resident of Belmont, she'd pass the broiling summers and frigid winters with a radio and her collection of books to keep her company. "And when holidays come, the few of us here get together and have a big dinner, dance a jig and even get a little high." Here's to you, Rose.

   

Readers who have visited my  Manhattan page know that the beautiful church which has been the subject of photo shoots by National Geographic was originally in Belmont. It was moved when Belmont became a true ghost town with most mines closing by 1890 and the county seat being moved in 1905. Recently, the Belmont residents asked the Manhattan residents for the church back. The Manhattanites declined so in short order, the residents of Belmont (along with absentee investors) had a new one constructed. It has the same dimensions and architectural style as the original however it boasts an organ, piano and carpet; Items which we absent from Manhattan's House of Worship .

   

The Belmont Inn's web site provides information on the inn's accomodations and history.  For that site,  click here

 East Belmont  is located nearby on a dirt road a couple of miles beyond Belmont. For Shawn Hall's profile of Belmont's fascinating history.  For his website containing comprehensive histories of other ghosttowns, click here.

Belmont Main Street   :

More photographs of Belmont
 

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