Monthly Archives: November 2011
Caliente, CA is located north of Highway 58 between Bakersfield and Tehachapi, Ca. There are signs from the highway for Caliente, just keep an eye out for them. You’ll want to turn on to Bealville Rd. and follow that just a couple of miles and you’ll come to the town site.
Caliente was established in the 1870′s, however at that time it was called Allen’s Camp after a cattle rancher named Gabriel Allen. The town name was changed later to Agua Caliente, which only lasted a short time due to confusion with another town of the same name also in California. In 1875 with the arrival of the railway they shortened the name to just Caliente.
Caliente was never a mining town, it was known more for being a receiving and shipping station. Even before the first train arrived wagons made their way to Caliente filled with merchandise and mining equipment that would be transferred to pack teams headed for the Kern River Gold Camps.
Today the trains still roll through Caliente on their way up through the Tehachapi Mountains. There is a post office that serves the community, and that’s about it. The town site has a number of both vacant and occupied homes. The census lists a population of 1,019 however that number is not in the least bit accurate when it comes to the actual town site of Caliente. I would estimate that the town itself may have a population of 20 people at the most, with the additional 1,000 people living in 35 square mile radius as the post office services a large area.
When visiting Caliente I highly recommend that you continue down Caliente Bodfish Rd. toward Twin Oaks. The ride is breath taking to say the least. Along this route you will come upon numerous abandoned structures including the Amalia Mill which I will get it in a separate posting.
*NOTE* The pictures contained in this gallery are from Caliente as well as Caliente Bodfish Rd.
Goldfield, NV is located directly along Highway 95 in Esmeralda County, 26 miles south of Tonopah, and 180 miles north of Las Vegas. If you’ve driven this route, you can’t miss it. It’s massive buildings stand tall and proud and they remember the times when Goldfield was filled with thousands of people, and was once the largest city in the state.
Goldfield, the beginning…
On December 4th, 1902 two prospectors (Stimler and Marsh) that had made their way south from Tonopah staked three claims on the north ridge of the Columbia Mountains. They named the new mining district “Grandpa”. It’s unsure the meaning behind the name however it is speculated that it could mean “The Granddaddy of them all”, or possibly because Gran Pah in Shoshone means great water. The three men named their claims The Sandstorm, Kruger, and May Queen.
On October 20th, 1903 thirty-six prospectors and investors gathered together to establish the town site. During this meeting, they voted to change the name of the town and mining district from Grandpa to Goldfield, because they figured that it would be easier to promote the area with a name like Goldfield.
There be gold in them hills…
From 1901 thru 1940 Goldfield had recorded production of $90,000,000, most of that in gold. Today that estimated value would be around $1.8 billion dollars! The gold to silver ratio in Goldfield was 3 to 1.
The Building Boom…
The building boom at Goldfield began in 1905 and continued through 1910. In 1903, just a camp for around 20 people, by 1907 Goldfield was the largest city in Nevada with a population of over 20,000 people. Goldfield had everything that any major city had. The directory published in 1907 listed the following businesses: Saloons (49), Restaurants (27), Barber Shops (15), Bakeries (6), Assayers (54), Attorneys (84), Brokers (162), Cigar Stores (14), Grocers (21). Hotels (22), Laundries (17), Doctors (40), Undertakers (10).
The one building that is familiar to most people today is The Goldfield Hotel. The Goldfield Hotel was built in 1907 by the Hayes – Monette Syndicate and designed by Reno architects Holesworth and Curtis. The estimated cost of the building was between $300,000 and $400,000.
The hotel had 150 sleeping rooms, and 45 suites that included their own bathrooms. The sleeping rooms shared bathrooms complete with a claw-foot bathtub, and toilet. The guest rooms were furnished with carpeting, telephones, draperies, glass lamps, hardwood dressers with glass plate mirrors, cuspidors, and brass beds. The Hotel also had its own dining room, as well a saloon.
The hotel operated well into the 1940′s. It still stands today as the most prominent building in Goldfield. Numerous times over the last decade, there have been talks of renovating and reopening the hotel. However, it seems that this is nothing more than talk, as no action has been taken. It is believed by many that this hotel is one of the most haunted places in the west as many paranormal investigation groups have experienced activity within its walls.
The Earps come to town…
Virgil Earp, along with his wife Allie, made their way to Goldfield in 1904. Shortly after their arrival, Virgil was made a deputy sheriff of Esmeralda County. Sadly, this didn’t last long. On October 19th, 1905 Virgil died of pneumonia in the Saint Mary’s County Hospital in Goldfield.
As for Wyatt, it has been rumored that he owned a Saloon, a hotel, tended bar, etc.. There is no truth to these rumors. Wyatt was only ever in Goldfield for short periods of time to visit with his brother. He never lived, worked or owned any business in Goldfield.
July 6th, 1923, a fire consumed the town of Goldfield. The fire started at T. C. Rea’s house at 6:40am. It is believed that the fire was started as the result of a liquor still exploding in Rea’s house, and possibly because of a bootleggers feud. The fire destroyed much of Main Street, a total of 25 blocks. Two people died in the fire.
On September 29th, 1924 another fire broke out in Goldfield. While not as devastating as the 1923 fire, it did completely destroy the Goldfield News Building and the Montezuma Club.
After these fires Goldfield never recovered to the town that it once was.
Today Goldfield is still the county seat of Esmeralda County. The sheriff’s office, the court-house, and the county jail still call Goldfield home. The 2000 census shows Goldfield as having a population of 440 people, that is up from the 1950′s census which lists a total of 275. There are still a number of small businesses which operate within the town including a restaurant, a general store, a coffee shop, a bank, a book store, a number of mining collectible shops, and a saloon.
The Sante Fe Saloon is noteworthy as it began operation in 1905 and has been in operation continuously since that time. It is the longest running business in Goldfield’s history, and one of the longest continuously operated saloons in all of the state of Nevada. Attached to the Saloon they have a small hotel with eight rooms available.
The Historical Society of Goldfield have done an amazing job at trying to bring tourism back into Goldfield. They have an informative website with plenty of information on the town. As well, they have created a tour of Goldfield complete with a nice guide of the historic buildings. You can request one of these guides from this location on their website.
During my visit…
I pulled into Goldfield on this cloudy ugly day in November. The days earlier had brought a good amount of snow to the town, much of which had already melted off leaving for a damp and muddy experience. I parked my car on Crook St. in front of the court-house and walked these once bustling streets. I spent a good part of two hours walking and photographing the town, amazed at what great condition much of the buildings are in for having being built over a century ago.
From the town I could see a number of mines out in the hills around the town. I decided to take a drive out in the “Goldfields” if there was access available. Sure enough, the snowy and muddy roads were open so I made the few miles drive around the mining area. While the road was not closed to visitors, the mines are, so all pictures I have are from the roads.
I could have spent days in Goldfield, but I was hungry and was already a good distance from Beatty where I was staying during my trip. I had expected that I might find a small restaurant open in town, but it’s only restaurant operates Monday – Friday only. Not exactly convenient for the many weekend travelers making their way down 95. So I hurried on down the road another 20 something miles to Tonapah for a bite to eat before making my drive back to Beatty.
I can tell you this, I will be back. There is so much more to see than what a few hours could provide me with. Go to Goldfield, you will not be disappointed!
Journigan’s Mill is located along Wildrose Rd. in Death Valley National Park. To get there from Death Valley follow 190 West towards Stovepipe Wells, the turn off for Wildrose Rd. is about 9 past Stovepipe Wells (There are signs for Wildrose Rd.). Once on Wildrose Rd. you will come upon the mill about 4 miles down on the right.
Journigan’s Mill was in operation off and on until the late 1970′s. It was rebuilt in the 1950′s by Art Detloff and Donald A. Dobbins after they purchased a lease to the site in 1953. In 1959 they lost their lease due to failing to pay royalties to the owner Roy C. Troeger. In September the machinery at Journigan’s Mill was purchased by the Argentum Mining Company and was dismantled and moved to Columbia Flats, Nevada.
Today the remains of the mill site include a couple of water tanks, concrete foundations, machinery pillars, and several cyanide tanks. Journigan’s Mill is being considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places as being of local significance.
Bullfrog, NV is located about one mile from the ghost town of Rhyolite. To get to Bullfrog take highway 374 until you reach the turn off for Rhyolite. Before you reach the Goldwell Open Air Museum take a left towards the cemetery. Go past the next turn off to the cemetery and you will come upon the few remains of the town of Bullfrog.
Bullfrog came to be in March 1905 when the entire town of Amargosa City packed up and moved to the Bullfrog town site. A short time later Rhyolite was established within just a mile of Bullfrog. The competition between the two towns was fierce as both towns wanted the edge on the other. May of 1905 would end up being the peak of Bullfrog as a town. Lots on main street sold for as much as $1,500. Bullfrog also boasted a three-story hotel, a county jail, a lodging house, a general store, a bank, and an ice house among others.
It has been said that the town of Bullfrog was a violent town, and the violence attributed to the town folks and businesses to begin packing up and leaving for Rhyolite. By 1907 Bullfrog was practically deserted. The post office struggled but stayed open until May, 15th 1909.
Today not much remains of Bullfrog, and Rhyolite is still over shadowing it some 100 years later. The walls of the ice house remain, and a good part of the county jail is still intact. Someone has built a newer home directly beside the jail, and I’ve read that some of the land close to the town site has been purchased to build a resort. I’m not sure how old that news is however and if anything will ever come of it.
Gold Bar, NV is located in the Bullfrog mining district near the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV. Today it sits within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park. To get to Gold Bar take Highway 374, when you reach the Rhyolite turn off turn and go up towards Rhyolite. Before you get to the Goldwell Open Air Museum there is a turn off towards the Rhyolite cemetery. Take that road, it will be paved at first and turn to dirt about a half mile down. Follow this dirt road for roughly 7 miles.
Gold Bar’s history begins around 1905 as a another of many small mining camps located around the Bullfrog Mining District. The camp had an estimated population of around 50 people in it’s hay day. Never having graduated from a camp to a town, a number of substantial structures had still been built in hopes that it would promote growth.
The Homestake Mine & Mill were the mainstays of the camp. The ore that was mined was said to be rich and worth as much as $150 per ton. In 1908 the recession was hitting Gold Bar hard and in May of that year the Homestake Mine & Mill closed for good. It would later be discovered that the mine was falsely promoted, and it’s ore was worthless.
Today the only remains of Gold Bar is the massive structure of the Homestake Mill. Without this structure you would never know that this place existed.
Bonnie Claire / Thorp sits near the border of Death Valley along highway 267, and roughly 6 miles from Highway 95. It’s extremely easy to locate as the few remains of the town are situated close to the highway, and the mill is located on the opposite side of the highway.
Mining began in the area around 1880 about 4 miles from what would become the town site of Thorp and later Bonnie Claire. The earliest name for the mining area was Thorp’s Well, which is what the original name of the town is derived from. In the early 1900′s the Bonnie Clare and Bullfrog Mining Company purchased the mill at Thorp’s Well, and soon afterwards began construction of a new mill near the Thorp Stage Station. This new mill would be called the Bonnie Claire Mill.
The town of Thorp was established around 1904, with the first post office opening in 1905. The town would be renamed Bonnie Claire in 1906 after the arrival of the Bullfrog and Goldfield Railroad. In 1907 the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad would reach the town.
1907 saw the peak of the town’s population at about 100 people. The town site now had a two-story hotel, a number of saloons and stores, and houses had begun to be built to replace the tent city. Despite the small boom that had taken place due to the trains reaching the town it wasn’t long before the town began to diminish.
Bonnie Claire would see another busy period in the 1920′s, when Chicago Millionaire Albert Johnson and Walter Scott (Death Valley Scotty) began construction on what would become known as Scotty’s Castle. Most of the supplies for the construction of the castle came through Bonnie Claire via the railroad, and was then trucked out 20 desolate miles to the construction site. When the Great Depression hit construction on the mansion would decrease, which would cause once again an exodus from Bonnie Claire.
Eventually the railroad tracks leading through Bonnie Claire would be pulled up, and train stopped rolling through this once bustling little town. In 1931 the town would lose it post office as the town’s population had moved on.
Today the town site consists of a couple of lonely buildings that have been littered with modern people’s garbage, and a couple of modern era junk cars. A small mining shaft is located directly beside one of the buildings, it’s unclear if this shaft was used in the early days of Bonnie Claire, or if it’s from a more recent time.
Across the highway the Bonnie Claire mill still stands proudly against the mountain as well as a number of adobe buildings. The old mill’s smelting pots rest on the ground beside the mill giving testimony to the mill’s once busy history.
During my visit to Bonnie Claire there where no signs posted about Private Property or No Trespassing, however I’ve now read in a couple of places while doing my research on this site that the property has in recent years been marked with these signs. Please take this in consideration when visiting this location, and if the signs reappear please be respectful of the owner’s wishes.