On the way to Beatty, Nevada sits the once booming town of Rhyolite. Today, there is nothing much left of Rhyolite apart from a few ruins, the bottle house and the old station. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourite ghost towns. I first visited Rhyolite back in 2016, and then returned in 2017. Unfortunately, in the space of a year, I noticed more graffiti and the old truck near the bottle house had gone.
In 1904, Frank ‘Shorty’ Harris and Eddie Cross discovered gold in the nearby Bullfrog Hills. By 1908, it is said that Rhyolite had a population of around eight to twelve thousand people. Although the mine produced more than $1 million in bullion in its first three years, by 1910, it is estimated that the population fell to just under seven hundred people. The last Rhyolite resident passed away in 1924. Many of Rhyolite’s buildings were relocated to the nearby town of Beatty. The Miner’s Union Hall in Rhyolite became the Old Town Hall and many other buildings were used to construct a school.
Rhyolite gets a mention in Ian Flemming’s 1956 novel, Diamonds Are Forever.
Spectreville is a fictional place but there is a Specter Range near Amargosa Valley in Nevada.
The Bottle House (known as Tom Kelly’s Bottle House) was restored by Paramount pictures in January of 1925 for the filming of a silent movie, The Air Mail. For some reason, and I have no idea why, I did not take a picture of the house.
The movie, The Island (2005) starring Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor was partially filmed in Rhyolite as was Six-String Samurai in 1998.
Rhyolite is a mixture of private and federal land.
Entry is free and the ghost town is open 24/7
Remember, be respectful and take nothing but pictures.
Next to the ghost town of Rhyolite sits the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The museum began in 1984 when Belgian artist, Charles Albert Szukalski installed ‘The Last Supper’. I must admit, I don’t know much about art and sculptures. However, the sculptures are said to be designed within the context of the desert landscape that it is situated in. The sculpture of the miner and penguin is a tribute to Frank “Shorty” Harris. Harris, along with his partner, Ernest Cross founded Rhyolite along with many other mining towns around the Death Valley area.
I was going to do one long post about my time in Death Valley but I feel that it will go on and on and so, I decided to split it up.
I first visited Death Valley in 2016 and instantly fell in love. On my first visit, I stayed at the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel. To be honest, for the price, I thought that the hotel was awful. I paid about £170 for one night, room only for two people. The room was dark and had loads of small fruit flies in it. The air conditioning was noisy and it smelt like the drains needed cleaning. The hotel is rated a three-star, I would probably give it one or two and the actual rooms looked nothing like the pictures on their website. The area around the hotel is cool though, there are a few old vehicles and things to have a look at and at night, it was beautifully quiet. There is a gas station and a general store, I would advise to full up before entering Death Valley though as gas prices were expensive.
Stovepipe Wells was the first Tourist town in Death Valley. In 1926, Bob Eichbaum opened Stovepipe Wells Hotel and operated a toll road. From looking online, Xanterra Parks & Resorts® used to manage the hotel but don’t anymore. They do manage the two hotels at Furnace Creek.
Just down the road from Stovepipe Wells, is Mesquite Flat
Sand Dunes. The dunes are easily
located, right off Highway 190. There is
a car park, with plenty of spaces. You
are free to walk on the dunes and there are some fabulous photograph
opportunities, with lots of dead trees and branches lying around that make
I have not yet had the chance, but I’ve read that it’s beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Remember, it is the desert so take plenty of water.