Travels in the American Southwest
GPS N36 54.216  W116 49.667
2 mile west of SR374, 4 miles west of Beatty
Road Factor/Accessability - Graded dirt road
~121 miles from Las Vegas

Inside Tom Kelly's Bottle HouseProbably the most visited and photographed ghosttown in Nevada, in part due to its proximity to Las Vegas and Death Valley. Being such a popular attraction, thousands of pages have been written and hundreds of pictures have been taken of the site. Rather than re-tell Rhyolite's short life as a boom town, rather than quote the number of residents or how many stage and rail lines served it, rather than offer you what could only be a partial history of this town, instead I'll touch on one aspect of this truly fascinating ghosttown. I leave the rest of the town and its history to others who have written more extensively and knowlegeably than could I.

In 1954, long after the population of Rhyolite had deserted the town, Tommy Thompson arrived. He and his family took up residence in the ghosttown. While they did some restoration work, the mere fact that they were living in the town helped to keep souvenir-hunting vandals away. They are responsible for seeing that Tom Kelly's Bottle House was not reduced to rubble. In fact Thompson used the house, which contains nearly 30,000 bottles and took 5 1/2 months to build, as a curio shop to display artifacts of the old Rhyolite.

Tom Kelly's Bottle House

During much of the time when there were no visitors, Thompson would work on his "Tiny Town". Located adjacent to the Bottle House, Tiny Town still exists much as it did in Thompson's day. The buildings in Tiny Town stand two feet high and are decorated with bits of broken glass. Much of the glass has taken on a royal purple hue caused by decades of harsh sunlight.


Other Images of Rhyolite

For more on Rhyolite, I recommend the National Park Service web site. For a comprehensive history,  this link is quite good.
Glenn's Page is another great link to explore Rhyolite's past.

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