The town of Rhyolite, Nevada was established in 1905 when traces of gold were found in the nearby Bullfrog Hills. But when Rhyolite failed to flourish in the gold rush era, this community of “high hopes and dashed dreams” crumbled into the timeworn ghost town that entrances visitors today.
The History of Rhyolite
In 1904, the discovery of gold in the Bullfrog Mining District spurred the creation of numerous “gold rush towns” that attracted prospectors and speculators from surrounding areas. Rhyolite was the largest and most elaborate of these towns, featuring its own railway station, churches, banks, hotels, a school and an opera house. In fact, this budding metropolis even boasted its own stock exchange, gaining the attention of investors in big U.S. cities. Rhyolite reached its peak in 1907 when the town boasted a population of about 8,000, and many believed that this vibrant settlement would endure to become Nevada’s next great city.
But it was not to be. Rhyolite only managed to establish one mine—the Montgomery Shoshone mine—which was unsuccessful. Following the Panic of 1907—a financial crisis in the U.S. in which the stock market plunged dramatically—ore production in Rhyolite began to lose steam, and the Montgomery mine and its mill were closed for good in 1911. By 1910, only a few hundred people remained in the town, and six years later, Rhyolite went dark as the lights and power were shut off. The once-hopeful town was abandoned for good in 1919.
Once upon a time, Rhyolite hustled and bustled with life. Today, all that remains is a collection of decaying buildings that only hint at the town’s former magnificence. But listen closely, and you can almost hear the excited chatter of the residents and the roar of the railroad as it rumbles on by.
Below are some highlights you’ll want to experience during your trip to this legendary ghost town:
- The historic Rhyolite Train Station remains in remarkably good condition, although it is fenced off from public access. A Union Pacific caboose sits nearby.
- There is an abandoned mine entrance with a posted sign that eerily proclaims “Unsafe Mine! Stay out, Stay Alive!”
- Visitors to Rhyolite will also want to check out The Bottle House, a unique structure built from 30,000 beer and liquor bottles by Tom Kelly in 1906. In 1925, The Bottle House was restored by Paramount Pictures for use in a film. Today, it remains standing and is quite a sight to behold.
- Another can’t miss is The Cook Bank Building—once the largest building in Rhyolite. The bank was a refined and grand structure, built with Italian marble floors and mahogany woodwork. Today, it’s the most photographed ruin in the state of Nevada.
- Be sure to stop in at the Goldwell Open Air Museum, located at the southern entrance to Rhyolite, off Highway 374. Created by a group of Belgian artists, the Museum is a free-admission outdoor sculpture park that’s open to the public 24 hours a day. Here you’ll witness most unusual sights, including a life-size version of the DaVinci’s Last Supper masterpiece and a 25-foot high pink woman made of cinder blocks.
To learn more about the fascinating ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada, visit http://www.rhyolitesite.com/.