Sunday, April 24, 2011

Goldpoint (Hornsilver), Nevada April 6, 2011

Some of the older wooden buildings along main street

My next six blogposts are interesting sites I visited on my spring trip to Southwestern Nevada in early April. Four of them are about historic gold and silver mining communities and two of them are petroglyph sites near Austin, Nevada.

I arrived in Goldfield late in the afternoon after driving from Tonopah. After touring around historic Goldfield I planned to stay camp at the Goldfield RV Park. Unbeknownst to me, the owner had just closed the establishment and was planning on returning to Salmon, Idaho. After talking to the owner, I received permission to stay for $10. This part of Nevada does not have numerous camping opportunities so I was extremely appreciative to be able to stay in town. The wind during the night picked up making for some chilly desert camping. The next day I drove the 25 miles south to Goldpoint. Goldpoint is in the Mohave desert so expect hot temperatures during the summer with much cooler winters.

Directions: From Goldfield take US 95 south approximately 15 miles. Turn onto NV 266 drive until you see the turnoff for Goldpoint.

History: Goldpoint, originally Hornsilver, had the same boom and bust history as most gold and silver communities in Nevada. The first boom occured in 1902 with the discovery of gold; soon an old ranching camp was revived becoming the community of Hornsilver. From the start logistics soon became a nightmare. First silver ore had to be shipped to a mill in Lida for processing. Second, because of the camps remoteness supplies such as, water and food had to be shipped in. Because of these extra costs within a year the settlement was abandoned. A second revival occured in 1905 with the discovery of a rich silver vein close to town. By 1908 businesses had opened and the population had rebounded. However, just like the first boom costly milling, inefficient mining and lawsuits halted the production.

The longest period of prosperity began in 1927 with the discovery of gold at the Great Western mine. Residents flooded in and businesses reopened. To attract more prospectors and because the mines were producing gold, the name was changed to Goldpoint. Mining continued until the Federal Government closed the mines during World War II. They never restarted. (Thank you to Wikipedia for this information).

Today, Goldpoint is a worthwhile visit because of the number of historic buildings and mining remanents still standing. A visitor can tour the Great Western Mine to the west of town for a small fee. On the weekends a saloon is open and a small RV park accomodates tourists. A local historical society puts on mock gun fights at times during the summer.

Joshua tree in town

Looking up a head frame close to town

A neat picture of mining equipment with the Mohave Desert

Outskirts of town with surrounding desert

Headframe at one of the old mines

Gallows along main street

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Belmont, Nevada April 7, 2011

Historic Belmont

After leaving Goldfield and Goldpoint I drove north of Tonopah to visit the historic town of Belmont. The weather was clear with temperatures in the mid 60s; however, I was receiving word of a storm coming in from California which would effect my plans. Belmont has a rich history of boom and bust with a large number of historical buildings to view in town. It is definitely worth a visit.

Directions: Belmont is extremely isolated it is located 46 miles north of Tonopah and 115 miles to the south of Austin, Nevada. From Tonopah take Highway 6 east six miles until the junction for 376. Follow 376 for 13 miles until 82 branches of to the right. Follow road until the town of Belmont.

History: Belmont is worth visiting with many historical buildings and a brillant setting in the Toquima Mountains of Central Nevada. The town had three periods of silver mining 1866-1867, 1868-1873 and a small revival from 1914 to 1922. As a result, the town's population has fluctuated throughout the years depending on mine output.

The first boom began after an Indian discovered a silver deposit in the Toquima Mountains. Soon ten major mines were working in the area including the Belmont which was the deepest, the Arizona and the Highbridge. At the peak of its boom the town population hovered around 5,000. With a growing population, Belmont built a courthouse and became the county seat. At this time there were three newspapers operating in the town. However, the prospect of silver elsewhere in the state caused a drastic decline in population by 1868.

The second revival in the town occured in 1873 with the discovery of rich deposits in some of the biggest mines in the area including the Belomont and Monitor. Businesses opened again and the population rebounded back to 3,000. Stagelines were set up so people could travel to Tonopah and Austin, Nevada. Two major incidents caused the second decline. The first ocurred in 1878 when hoisting and mill works owned by the El Dorado Mining Company were set on fire. The equipment was not insured causing the company to go bankrupt. A boom at Bonnie Clare caused many people and equipment to leave.

The last major revival started in 1914 when the Monitor Belmont Mining Company bought most of the mines in the area. Production increased and a huge mill (the Cameron) powered by a $15,000 power line became operational. A third time businesses reopened and the population rebounded; however, the boom would not last and by 1917 the mill and mines had closed. A few small companies worked tailings until 1922 when the post office closed. Today, there are a number of small claims in the area but no major mining is ocurring. The biggest mines in the district are up at Round Mountain to the north and Silver Peaks near Goldfield. (Thank you to www. for this information).

The beautiful courthouse; A must see

A Bed and Breakfast in town is operational today

The downtown buildings crumbling; showing the years of neglect.

Goldfield, Nevada April 5, 2011

Downtown Goldfield at its peak

Directions: Golfield is a historic mining comunity in Esmeralda County about 25 miles to the south of Tonopah on US 95. Goldfield is also approximately 195 miles north of Las Vegas.

History: Goldfield and Tonopah would be the kingpins of the silver and gold industry in the 1900s. From 1901 to 1940 the production of the gold mines in Goldfield would be $90,000,000. The most important mine the Mohawk #2 would produce approximately 9 million in ore. At its peak the gold camp would have over 20,000 people and four railroads. Goldfield's claim to faim would include the winner of the 1908 Around the World Auto Race from New York to Paris and the longest boxing match of 47 rounds.

Early beginnings: Jim Butler, kingpin of silver industry in Tonopah, Nevada, employed two prospectors Harry Stimler and William Marsh to locate the place where gold had reportedly been found to the south. December 1902, the men made three claims (Sandstorm, Kruger and May Queen) and they named the new dustrict Grandpa. October 1903 a group of 36 men established a town site and changed its name to Goldfield to attract settlers. Soon 19 additional claims would be found. After Jim Butler backed out of the investment Stimler and Marsh received interest from a Winneucca banker named George Nixon.

Boom years in Goldfield: Shipments of highly concentrated ore to smelters created a rush in thousands of prospectors and investors to Goldfield between 1905 and 1907. In 1905 a sleepy town of ten had grown into one with over 10,000 people. The richest shipment of ore to a smelter in San Fransisco helped to facilitate the boom of Goldfield (shipment was 47 tons and had a 609.610 ounces per ton in gold percentage).

By 1907 Goldfield had a population of 20,000 with all the amenities and four railroads. The town had fancy restaurants, hotels, theaters, social groups, athletic groups, unions, and a red light district. In fact, eastern newspapers were claiming that Goldfield had the finest hotels west of the Mississppi. Goldfield would become the county seat in May of 1907. By 1907 there would be four railroads operating in Goldfield including the Tonopah and Goldfield, Tonopah and Tidewater, The Bullfrog and Goldfield and a local line owned by a mill. The towns main building boom occured in 1907 because of a miners strike. At this time, the town boasted an astounding 49 saloons, 27 restaurants, 22 hotels, 84 attorneys among many others.

In 1907 George Nixon and George Wingfield became donimant powers in Goldfield buying almost all the mines and creating the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company. This Company would oversee the mines and its employees until many of them closed in the 1940s.

Decline and today: A number of disasters would cause the decline of Goldfield. The first was a major flood which occured in September of 1913. This flood damaged railroads lines and destroyed homes. A devasting fire occured in July of 1923 completely destroyed 25 blocks of the Main Street area. The town would never recover from the devastating effects of this fire. A second fire which occurred in 1924 destroyed more important buildings.

Today, Goldfield is a reminder of one of the most important gold booms in Nevada. A visitor to the town will be able to see many original structures. Be sure to visit the cemetery which is very interesting and has many historic headstones. Mining is limited to a few small claims and companies. In town today their is a small grocery store, gas station, cafe and saloon; however, amenities are few. (Thanks to the Goldfield Historical Society for this posts historical information).

One of the best producers the Mohawk Mine of Goldfield; owned by Hayes and Monnette

Inside the Goldfield Hotel

Station for the Bullfrog and Goldfield Railroad in Rhyolite, Nevada

Downtown Goldfield today

Original Pioneers of Goldfield. These graves were moved from downtown by men calling themselves "ghouls" because the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad did not their station to be next to a cemetery.

The cemetery today

Old headframe near the mines

Collapsing cabin with the old mines in the Background

Headquarters for the Goldfield Consolidated Mining Company

The famous Goldfield Hotel today. Reported to be one of the most haunted buildings in the world. Legend has it that George Wingfield got a prostitute named Elizabeth pregnant with his child. Worried about his image he chained her to a radiator in room 109 until she gave birth. It is unknown whether she died during childbirth or was murdered. Her baby was then thrown down a mineshaft. Today many visitors claim to see Elizabeth in the hotel and hear a child crying.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hickison Petroglyphs April 8, 2011

My next two blogposts are about Native American rock art sites near Austin Nevada.

Directions: The Hickison petroglyphs are located on US 50 in central Nevada approximately 20 miles to east of Austin, Nevada. The petroglyphs are on BLM land on the top of Hickison summit. There are six panels of petroglyphs to look at on two nature trails of varying length the longest one approximately 0.6 miles long. Be sure to take some time to look around because this is a beautiful area. RESPECT the petroglyphs. PRESERVE for future generations!!!

History: The Big Smoky Valley of Nevada has many prehistoric sites such as Hickison and Toquima some of which date back 11,000 to 12,000 years. This area was important for prehistoric people because of the presence of two lakes: Lake Toiyabe 25 miles to south and Lake Tonopah near Tonopah. The lakes supported a wide range of plants and animals used by the Native Americans. It is believed these petroglyphs were created by the Western Shoshone who lived in the area around 1850. The following photos are some petroglyphs a visitor could see at the site. (Thanks to BLM pamphlet for information).

Toquima Cave April 8, 2011

Colorful animal image on the cave wall

Directions: From Austin, Nevada, take US 50 east 13 miles to 376. Take 376 approximately 0.1 miles until you see a dirt road heading to the left. Take this road approximately 12 miles. Near the cave (not really a cave but over hang) is a small National Forest campground. Because visitors have attempted to deface the rock art in the past; a tall fence has been built. All photos of pictographs were taken through the fence. Remember pictographs are painted onto rock surfaces while petroglyphs are carved or scratched.

History: The Western Shoshone were a Native American tribe who lived in central Nevada. At Toquima they painted approximately 300 images which depict abstract, linear, geometric, human and or shapes. Rock art was painted in areas which hold spiritual significance. Around Toquima this was an important hunting area.

The most interesting aspect of rock art is the materials used to create the color and the tools used to create the images. Native Americans used natural materials collected near the area; such as, berries, plant juices, clay, or bird droppings to create the color. They prepared them by crushing, dyeing or cooking the ingredient then they applied the color to the rock with sticks, bones, feathers, or their own fingers. (Thanks to government pamphlet for information).

It is YOUR responsibility to protect rock art for future generations. That means KEEP your hands off the images AND NEVER deface the images.

Snow at 7400 feet near Toquima

The images on the wall

Image showing some of the circular and linear images

Good image showing more of the pictographs

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Currie, Nevada February 20, 2011

Sign on old Currie depot

Directions: Currie, Nevada, is located 53 miles on US 93 south of Wells, Nevada. When I visited Currie, the only gas station in town looked like it had closed; so, it is advisable to have a full tank of gas and drinks in your car. Remember the distances between towns in Nevada is far and there are often times no services ro cell phone service. This is one of many blog posts on the Nevada Northern in Eastern Nevada. (To view previous posts look at Cobre, Cherry Creek, Polar Express).

History: The town formed in 1906 as a stop on the Nevada Northern Railway. The first passenger train came in May of the same year. With passenger service, the town would grow as a transportation and livestock hub of Nevada. Four years later in 1910 the town was in its heyday. It boasted hotels, a saloon, school, store and post office. It expanded again when 93 was paved.

Currie would decline in 1941 because of a loss in passenger and mail service. As a result, citizens left town. Freight train service continued until 1980 when the line was abandoned (Information from Old Heart of Nevada: Ghost towns and Historical areas of Elko, County By: Shawn Hall).

Nevada walking on old Nevada Northern tracks

Abandoned tracks heading south through the desert

Old school in town

A look at the tracks with the depot on the left