Travels in the American Southwest

Ghost Towns

I've read that there are ten times as many ghost towns than inhabited towns in Nevada today so it's only natural that I went exploring.

NOTE on ghost towns: Unless your "in to" ghost towns, you'll probably be disappointed in what's out there. Nature tends to reclaim what is her's, leaving only an occassional wall or foundation.

Calico - The above note does NOT apply to Calico. Located a couple of hours south of Las Vegas on I-15, halfway between LA & LV, about ten miles north of Barstow is the ghost town, Calico. This mining town was spared much of the desert's punishment as it is located on a mountainside, protected by the surrounding ranges. Bought by one of the Knott Brothers (of Knott's Berry Farm fame) back in the early 50's because he thought that it was important to preserve some western heritage, Calico survives as a tourist attraction. Now owned and operated by the County of San Bernadino, you can watch wild west shoot-outs on Main Street, take a tour of a silver mine (deliciously cool in the summer heat), have a cold beer in the saloon as the piano player belts out a tune. Check out the stores for a momento to bring home. Something for everyone, rock samples, books, shooting gallery. Mosey over to the Sheriff's Office and see the jail. The free historical tour is highly recommended. Learn why there were no Oriental miners. Why some of the buildings are scorched. Little bits of history and lore make the now quiet mountainside resonate with the sounds of pickaxes and braying mules. Don't forget to tip the guides! There is a $5.00 admission charge (mine tour a buck extra). Honesty forces me to mention that the "shoot outs" are really for the tourists. Since Calico was a mining town and miners carried knives not guns, residents were far more likely to settle their differences with in a knife fight than gun play.

Eldorado Canyon - SR 95 to 165. About 13 miles off the highway. Mostly under Lake Mohave now, but there are a few signs of the past around. 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas. Old Techatticup gold mine.

Goodsprings is interesting if you like mining history. It's west of Jean (about 15 minutes) and actually has a saloon. There's a historical marker with the mining history in front of the Old post office. Was a mining camp for lead and zinc. 35 miles southwest of Las Vegas. still has the remains of mine shaft and an abandoned railway grade.Goodsprings is about 7.4 miles up route 161 off I-15.

Johnnie - SR 95 to 160, about 10 miles south on 160. Some standing walls and lots of foundations.

Potosi - 25 miles southwest of Las Vegas. An old lode mine.

Rhyolite - A couple of miles west of Beatty, the train depot and bottle house survive. (The bottle house is made of, you guessed it, bottles. They had to do something with all the empties!) Rhyolite was born around 1904 and quickly grew to be the second largest city in Nevada. A decade later, the silver ran out...and so did the people. A city of 15,000, complete with electric lights, telephone service, hundreds of houses and businesses (including a, ahem, red light district); Rhyolite became a ghost town. They even took the railroad tracks as the last train left the shell of Rhyolite to be reclaimed by nature. Today, the Friends of Rhyolite work to preserve the site. A visit to Rhyolite and neighboring Death Valley make a nice full day trip.

Sandy Valley, near Jean, NV. 12 miles west of Goodsprings. Old gold mine and a ghost town named "Sandy".

Searchlight, 55 miles south of Las Vegas. Was a major mining center.

For a listing of 600 ghost towns in Nevada and California:

More on Ghost Towns
The Complete CmdrMark Ghost Town Page

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