Tag Archives: Amargosa Hotel
Death Valley Junction is located a short 5 miles from the California/Nevada state line, and 27 miles from Shoshone, CA, at the intersection of Route 190 and Route 127.
Death Valley Junction was originally called Amargosa (“bitter water” in Paiute language), the name was changed in 1907 because the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad connected with the Las Vegas – Tonopah Railroad here to service the Ryan and Lilac C. Borax Mines near Ryan from 1914 – 1928. From 1923-1925 the Pacific Coast Borax Company constructed many buildings around the town including the Spanish Colonial Revival whistle stop which included a hotel, theater, and office building.
When 1927 rolled around Pacific Coast Borax was packing up for the town of Boron, CA. Boron would serve (and still does) as the new mining location for PCB. This didn’t seem to matter much at the time, as Death Valley Junction continued to thrive as a tourist spot. Once the mines at New Ryan closed up, so did the railroad with the exception of the baby gauge railroad that ran from New Ryan into the Widow Maker and Charley McCarthy Mines. This train remained open into the 1950′s, not for mining, but for the tourists.
In 1967 a breath of fresh air would arrive in Death Valley Junction, her name Marta Becket. Marta, a New York ballet dancer, mime and artist had been traveling with her husband in Death Valley. One morning they awoke to find that they had a flat tire. A park ranger would send them to Death Valley Junction where there was a repair shop. Marta’s husband would attend to the tire, while Marta walked around the sleepy town. While exploring she came upon the abandoned theater (Corkhill Hall), which was part of the Spanish Colonial Revival whistle stop. She instantly feel in love with it, the next day they tracked down the owner and agreed to rent the building for $45.00 per month.
Today that building is known as the Amargosa Opera House, and 45 years later you can still see Marta perform on a regular basis. From fall until spring you can catch Marta perform every Sunday at 2pm. As well as the Opera House, Marta also operates a hotel and café. Inside the hotel you will find many murals on the wall that Marta has painted over the years, as well a gift shop of Opera house memorabilia.
Some say that the hotel and opera house here at Death Valley Junction is haunted by the old miners that stayed here back in the borax days. There have been multiple television specials filmed here over the last few years on this subject, some are very convincing. I’ll leave that up for you to decide if you decide to spend the night.
Nothing else is really happening here at Death Valley Junction, a town that once boasted a population of 300, but now is home to only 4. Other than the Opera House, hotel, and café a number of abandoned houses, an abandoned service center, a water tank, and a cemetery remain.