Sunday, April 17, 2011

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.


  1. The photo of the depot in Rhyolite is actually the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad Depot. I believe the Tonopah & Goldfield only went as far South as Goldfield where it joined the Bullfrog Goldfield.

  2. I did some fact checking and believe you are correct.