Bonnie Claire / Thorp, NV


Mining began in 1880 about four miles from what would become the town of Thorp, and later Bonnie Claire.  In the early 1900s the Bonnie Claire and Bullfrog Mining Company purchased the mill at Thorp’s Well, and began constructing the Bonnie Claire Mill, near the Thorp Stage Station.

The town of Thorp was established around 1904, with the first post office opening in 1905. The town was renamed Bonnie Claire in 1906 after the arrival of the Bullfrog and Goldfield Railroad. In 1907 the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad reached the town.

In 1907 Bonnie Claire peaked at a population of about 100 people. The town had a two-story hotel, a number of saloons and stores, and houses were being built to replace the tent city. Despite the small boom due to the railroad reaching the town, it wasn’t long before things began to diminish.

Bonnie Claire had a boost in the 1920s. Chicago millionaire, Albert Johnson and Walter Scott (Death Valley Scotty) began construction on  Scotty’s Castle. The supplies for the construction of the castle were shipped to Bonnie Claire via the railroad, then trucked twenty miles to the construction site. With the Great Depression came a construction slowdown, and fewer jobs. Once again there was a mass exodus from Bonnie Claire.

Eventually the railroad tracks to Bonnie Claire were pulled up, and train stopped rolling. In 1931 the post office ceased operation.

Today the town consists of a couple of lonely buildings that have been littered with garbage, and 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 is modern.

Across the highway the Bonnie Claire Mill stands in shambles against the mountain, along with a few collapsing adobe buildings.



About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.