Tonopah, Nevada

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Directions: Taking US-95 from Las Vegas, Tonopah is about 236 miles and 4-hours north of Las Vegas. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95 approximately mid-way between Las Vegas and Reno/Tahoe. Located between Mount Butler, Brougher Mountain and Ararat Mountain (Fig. 02), the town has a current population of 2,478 in an area of 16.2 square miles.

Modern Day Tonopah: Tonopah is located about halfway between Reno/Tahoe and Las Vegas, making it the perfect place to make a “rest/lunch/gas” stop to break up the long drive. On the southern approach to Tonopah the road reaches the Tonopah summit and tops out at around 6,035 feet as you round the eastern side of Mount Butler where you are presented with a “Welcome to Historic Tonopah” sign posted to the side of an old wooden mine-head frame (Fig. 01). From this point forward, as you descend downhill into town, the strictly enforced speed limit drops to 25 MPH.
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Located on the left, the first major building you come to is the Tonopah Station casino (Fig. 03). Just after the casino you will find the Central Nevada Museum (Fig. 04). On the right side of the road, in the hills behind the large white motel, you can see some of the buildings and mine heads sticking up from within the Tonopah Mining Park (Fig. 05). As you continue the drive downhill through town, the road is lined with a variety of store fronts and places of business (Fig. 06). Eventually you will come to the Mitzpah Hotel (Fig. 07), still to this day, the largest building in town. With the Tonopah Mining Park offering a chance to explore the actual mines that created this mining juggernaut, the Central Nevada Museum providing local mining history and displays on cultural and social aspects of the region, and its proximity to nearby places and geological attractions such as Otteson’s world famous Royston Turquoise Mine tours (30 miles), the Lunar Crater (50 miles west), the Sump (60 miles northwest) and Monte Cristo's Castle (35 miles northwest), Tonopah can also be a great place to stay while taking in some of central Nevada's rich history.  Also, because it's so far from the bright lights of any major city, Tonopah's night skies are considered among the best in the country for stargazing. See the section, Tonopah - Background & History below for more information on this historic town.
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08/08/2013 Trip Notes: Though our stops here normally don’t last much longer than an hour, we decided that this year on our return trip from a visit to Lake Tahoe, to spent a night at the famous Mitzpah Hotel (Fig. 07) so we could spend more time touring some of the town’s rich historic spots. Click here for pictures and information on this 105 year old hotel … Tonopah's Historic Mitzpah Hotel. One of our first stops was a short trip to the site of the new Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project at the northern end of town. Creating more than 600 jobs during its construction peak, this project represents the biggest windfall to Tonopah since the molybdenum mining boon back in the early 80’s. Check it out here … Tonopah's Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant.  Driving around town we got to see dozens of historic buildings from the one room house in (Fig. 08) to the 105 year old Arthur Raycraft house (Fig. 09). Click here for information on this unique castle-like structure … Tonopah' s Arthur Raycraft House. Next, we headed over to the Tonopah Mining Park. We went inside the Visitor’s Center, that was closed on my last stop here, and watched an excellent 20-minute movie on the history of Tonopah. It also houses one of the most extensive mineral collections I have ever seen. For more information on the town’s rich mining history and each of these sites, visit the following pages ... Tonopah Historic Mining Park and the Central Nevada Museum. Other points of interest that we hope to visit on our next trip include the Nye County Courthouse that was built in 1905 at a cost of $55,000; the old Tonopah Public Library built in 1912, that is now the oldest active library in Nevada; St. Mark's Episcopal Church, built in 1906 and one of the better known landmarks in Tonopah; and the ruins of the old 500-ton Belmont mill, on the east side of Mt. Oddie.
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10/25/2012 Trip Notes: On this trip to Tahoe, I decided to I decided to go beyond my normal pit-stop for gas and a quick bite at Burger King, and make some quick stops at the Tonopah Mining Park and the Central Nevada Historical Society Museum. For more information on the town’s rich mining history and each of these sites, visit the following pages ... Tonopah Historic Mining Park and the Central Nevada Museum.

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Tonopah Background & History: Modern-day Tonopah is but a relic of Nevada's 20th century mining boom, however, more than a hundred years ago Tonopah, known as the “Queen of the Silver Camps” was a sprawling city of 3,000 people served by several stagecoach lines. On April 10, 1901, a post office named Butler was opened. On June 15, 1901, W.W. Booth, set up a newspaper called the Tonopah Bonanza. Still in operation today, it is now called The Tonopah Times-Bonanza and Goldfield News and is published twice each week, on Wednesday and Friday. On March 3, 1905, the post office changed its name to the present day name of Tonopah. By 1905 it had captured the county seat from failing Belmont; by 1907 Tonopah was thriving with five banks, several theaters, numerous hotels, five newspapers, more than 30 saloons, a pair of churches; many of the most impressive residences in Nevada, and the Big Casino, a dance-hall-and-brothel occupying a square city block. In the years leading up to 1917, Tonopah’s mines averaged 38.5 million a year in production. However, as is often the case, from there it was a long, slow downhill slide until the 1940s when mining finally stopped; causing the population to dwindle. By their closure, the mines in this district produced more than five million tons of ore, which would be valued today in excess of $1,200,000,000 (yes, that’s billion dollars).

In 1979, after nearly 60 years of decline, Tonopah erupted in its second mining boom of the 20th century with the building of the great new Anaconda molybdenum mine and mill which employed nearly 600 workers. In addition, hundreds more began re-working nearly a dozen of the previously closed gold and silver mines. In less than a year, the population went from fewer than 2,500 to more than 4,000. And then one day this sudden mining boom ended in a mighty crash, causing yet another extended depression. The price of gold and silver slid and the mines closed down yet again. The market for moly went so bad that even mighty Anaconda had to close down its operation and sit on its $240 million investment. Once again Tonopah started to become a “ghost town” as the population continued to decline. Click here for a more detailed account of the town's history ... Tonopah.

However, today the news of a new “solar plant” being built north of town is beginning to bring life back to the area. Click here for more information on this project … . In the summer of 2011, Fred and Nancy Cline, winemakers in the Carneros District of Sonoma County California. purchased, restored and reopened the historic Mizpah Hotel, making it a full-service hotel half-way between Reno and Las Vegas. On the north side of town there is a new community sports complex that is open to the public with swimming pool, exercise rooms, handball courts and other work-out facilities. All of these things, coupled with the Tonopah Mining Park (Fig. 10) and Central Nevada Museum (Fig. 04), and several new dining choices, make inviting attractions for visitors, and may just help ‘revive’ this town once more.