Death Valley Impressions

Once upon a time, some prospectors set out from Beatty (Nevada) towards the Califonia border to search for minerals.

According to Wikipedia:

The town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, miners, and service providers ( euphemism alert! - Ed.) flocked to the Bullfrog Mining District. Many settled in Rhyolite, which lay in a sheltered desert basin near the region's biggest producer, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine.

Industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the Montgomery Shoshone Mine in 1906 and invested heavily in infrastructure including piped water, electric lines, and railroad transportation that served the town as well as the mine. By 1907, Rhyolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, newspapers, a hospital, a school, an opera house, and a stock exchange. Published estimates of the town's peak population vary widely, but scholarly sources generally place it in a range between 3,500 and 5,000 in 190708.

Rhyolite declined almost as rapidly as it rose. After the richest ore was exhausted, production fell. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital. In 1908, investors in the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, concerned that it was overvalued, ordered an independent study. When the study's findings proved unfavorable, the company's stock value crashed, further restricting funding. By the end of 1910, the mine was operating at a loss, and it closed in 1911. By this time, many out-of-work miners had moved elsewhere, and Rhyolite's population dropped well below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to zero.

Rhyolite, Nevada
A Ghost Town

 

Rhyolite, Nevada

 

Most buildings have disappeared, leaving only their foundations as witness to what once was here.

In the distance two small stone buildings can still be seen standing. Both are too small to bother with reclaiming the building materials and are protected by a corrugated iron roof, which probably accounts for their survival.. The one with the red roof was the local house of ill repute, conveniently close to the former dance hall whose foundations can still be seen in the foreground of this picture.

 

The Cook Bank - This is where the gold miners brought their money - the bank was built around 1906 when an investor helped to set up the town's infrastructure (water, electricity, railway, bank, bordello) but it was all defunct by the time 1920 rolled round

 

The General Store. The blue stone sign at the top of the facade tells us that this was the HR & LD Porter building, dated 1906. Only the facade is left as the sides appear to have crumbled with time.

The sides of the hill (seen in the distance on the left) are pockmarked with mine entrances - so the town was conveniently close to the action.

 

The railway that was supposed to serve the town never quite made it this far.

The wheels were removed from this old caboose and it became the local railway HQ until the station was built just opposite here - and was never put into use..

 

Looking over the Caboose east towards Nevada, we can see snow on the distant mountains.

 

The more impressive buildings were constructed with dressed brick and concrete, while lesser buildings appear to have made with local stone and rocks gathered from the desert and cemented together. The building behind has survived better than the one in front.

 

Proper building materials had to be laboriously imported by Ox wagon and were expensive. But empty beer bottles were available in abundance. This house was built primarily using empty bottles - the air cavities providing excellent insulation.

This is an early example of recycling - actualy repurposing of of "pre-used" materials.

 

Rhyolite, Nevada
A Ghost Town