Striking Gold in Nevada

"The desert has not been kind to Rhyolite."
--Richard Moreno, publisher Nevada Magazine

I'm thinking about traveling with armed guards and having security devices
installed on all windows and doors. Perhaps I need to check with the bank
about a security deposit box.

This is all because of a trip I made to Nevada and the interesting town of
Beatty and to the nearby ghost town of Rhyolite. While visiting, I picked up a
small bag of souvenir "Genuine Gold Ore."

Located in the Amargosa River Valley, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 95
and Nevada State Route 374, Beatty is the Nevada gateway to Death Valley.

Beatty's history began at the turn of the century when it served as the hub of
the Bullfrog Mining District. The area was once served by three railroads
which whistled through the nearby booming metropolis of Rhyolite. No more.

There are no services in Rhyolite. However, Beatty is a friendly town which
welcomes travelers year 'round. There are several modern motels and three
casinos. Gas stations, bars and RV campgrounds round-out the current visitor

Many "snowbirds" call Beatty home during the winter months. Several
campgrounds provide full-service facilities and services, including groceries,
laundry, full hookups and hot showers.

Beatty's history is closely connected to Rhyolite. In what is now a ghost
town, once impressive concrete, stone and brick buildings have been forever
changed by the wind and sand. Rhyolite is located about 6 miles out of Beatty
and is well worth the drive.

Once one of Nevada's most promising mining towns, Rhyolite's former majesty
can now be only imagined as the contemporary visitor reflects on the ghostly
remains of the old bank buildings, hotels and opera house. However, in the
still of a quiet afternoon, I could almost hear the sound of the train whistle
as I stood at the former depot looking out over a town that use to be.

Richard Moreno, Nevada history buff, photographer and author of "The Backyard
Traveler" writes, "Today, Rhyolite remains one of the most photogenic of
Nevada's ghost towns. In the late afternoon, the sun stretches the shadows of
the ruins, creating marvelous images."

I have to agree. There is a gorgeous glow as the sun begins to settle behind
the skeletal reminders of the past. There's a certain eerie silence that seems
to hover over the ghost town as sunset begins.

Gold and mining are important aspects in Beatty and Rhyolite's past. But,
there are plenty of things to do in the area today. There are back roads to
explore, areas for off-road vehicles, hiking, rock hunting, bird and burro

Unfortunately, vandals have left their mark on this vital link to our past.
Unattractive fences have of necessity been placed around the old depot and
glass house.

Following the January rains and the February sunshine, the area, in spring, is
exquisite with its carpets of wildflowers.

A short half-hour drive from Beatty is Death Valley National Monument with its
well-known Scotty's Castle. Visitors to the Valley and to nearby Furnace Creek
Ranch should take the time and make the effort to include Beatty and Rhyolite
in their travel plans. Born as a result of a legendary gold strike in 1904,
the remnants of the once prosperous community now include building facades,
the remainder of the old depot, and an enticing bottle building that literally
sparkles in the daytime sun.

Every year, the third weekend of March, Rhyolite comes to life again in a
living history festival. If you're interested in the Friends of Rhyolite or
the festival, write to the Friends at P.O. Box 85, Amargosa Valley, NV 89020.
In addition, you may want to obtain a copy of the Rhyolite tour guide. It's a
compilation of information about this once-grand place that's now a ghost

At Furnace Creek Ranch, the Visitor Center and Death Valley Museum offer
exhibits, slide shows and brochures on the monument. In addition to fine
accommodations, several campground areas provide campsites for tents or motor

For further information about the area, contact the Beatty Chamber of
Commerce, PO Box 956, Beatty NV 89003, (702) 553-2424, or stop at the charming
and historic Visitor Center located on Nevada State Route 374 in Beatty.
Several campgrounds are located in the region. The good folks at the chamber
of commerce are glad to supply you with a list of public and private RV
accommodations in the area.

By the way, I'm ignoring the fact that my gold ore packet came with the
statement that "Gold in such ore may or may not be present." Who knows, maybe
mine is different, and I've really struck it rich!

Copyright 1999 by Bob Carter. All rights reserved.