Striking Gold in Nevada
"The desert has not been kind
--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
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
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
which whistled through the nearby booming metropolis of Rhyolite.
There are no services in Rhyolite.
However, Beatty is a friendly town which
welcomes travelers year 'round. There are several modern motels
casinos. Gas stations, bars and RV campgrounds round-out the
Many "snowbirds" call Beatty
home during the winter months. Several
campgrounds provide full-service facilities and services, including
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Ranch should take the time and make the effort to include Beatty
in their travel plans. Born as a result of a legendary gold strike
the remnants of the once prosperous community now include building
the remainder of the old depot, and an enticing bottle building
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,
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
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
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
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