Monday

Rhyolite Town Site - Trip Notes for 05/30/2017


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This page last updated on 05/31/2017
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Note: Prior to visiting Rhyolite we stopped at the Beatty Museum in Beatty. We spent more than 45 minutes touring the museum's exhibits, historical pictures and especially information on the town of Rhyolite. The curator was extremely knowledgeable and provided a wealth of information on Rhyolite. We found it very interesting. I would recommend anyone wishing to visit the historic site of Rhyolite make it a point to stop at the museum first. It opens everyday at 10:00 am. It is actually on the way. Check out the museum's website here ... Beatty Museum.
                                         
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05/30/2017 Trip NotesMy first visit to Rhyolite was back on 05/05/2008 with Connie and our neighbor Marc Resnic. To read historical information about the town of Rhyolite, go to this page, Ghost Town of Rhyolite Nevada - Summary Page. This page provides pictures and information on the few remaining structures in the ghost town today.

Today's snapshot only provides a glimpse of what the town once was during its heyday. Once people started leaving the town, people took flooring, roofs, support beams, just anything they could use to rebuild elsewhere. Three houses were actually hauled intact to the the town of Beatty. Over time, vandals and the weather have taken their toll, and the gutted structures have slowly beguan to crumble. Today the site is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and watched over by a citizen's group called "The Friends of Rhyolite." They are raising money to stabilize the buildings, and hopefully prevent further deterioration.   Treasure hunters with metal detectors and the collecting of any artifacts inside the town limits is prohibited. There are BLM caretakers on site, and they insist that visitors remain outside the perimeter of the buildings.  Some are fenced others are not.

Today's visit was my third visit, this time with Jim Herring and Bob Croke, neither of which who had ever been here before. We drove and hiked the majority of town's remaining foundations and structures from one end to the other. See the map in (Fig. 02) for their locations. The town is nestled between the Bonanza and Ladd mountains, both potted with dozens of old mine openings (Figs. 01 & 03). After visiting the Goldwell Open Air Museum, located on the left just before entering the town. We then began our tour of the town by visiting the "bottle" house.

Tom Kelly's Bottle House. Tom Kelly's house was erected in 1906. He built the three room house to raffle it off. It was built with 30,000 bottles of beer, wine, soda and medicine. Because the water line had yet to be laid, water was scarce and cost $5.00 a barrel. As a result, none of them had ever been washed. The house served the winning family for many years. Even though you cannot go into the house, you can peer into the inside through its windows. One was even draped with curtains. He even made a landing for the porch with bottles. when you got close up you could read the labels molded into the bottoms of the bottles (refer to Fig. 05). NOTE: This was not the only house built from bottles in Rhyolite. Just about 100 yards behind this one, was Mr. & Mrs. Wylies home. It was only one room but it was quite a nice little place made of beer bottles. There was also one up on the hill behind the school. That one was quite unusual in that it was mostly underground. Other than the roof, the rest of the house was made of bottles also,

The Rhyolite Mercantile: The building was erected in 1906 (Fig. 07). As with some other buildings, the "false front" at the top served as a billboard, where the merchant would advertise his store and the goods that were offered. In 1914 was moved to the town mining town of Pioneer and then eventually to Beatty. In the 1970's Evan Thompson moved it back to Rhyolite and set it on Chico Street, where you see it today. He then added an addition onto the back for a kitchen and raised several of his children there where he watched over the town. Unfortunately, the Rhyolite Mercantile general store seen in (Fig. 07) no longer exists. It burned to the ground in September 2014 after being hit by lightning.
                                               
We then moved to the ruins of the school (Fig. 07) and took some pictures.
                                
The Rhyolite School. The Rhyolite School was erected in 1909. This was Rhyolite's second school. Rhyolite built its first school early in 1906 and the enrollment soon reached 90. The first school was a wooden building that blew down in a severe wind storm. In the meantime they used the County Hospital to house the school until they decided what to do. By May 1907 the number of students reached 250. After the approving of a $20,000 school bond, this modern new two-story schoolhouse was built with classrooms and an auditorium and a galvanized Spanish tile roof and a bell copula. Constructed of fireproof concrete, it was completed in January of 1909. However, by the time it was built, most of the students had left Rhyolite and the town was already becoming a ghost town. It was only used for about a year. The spacious upstairs later functioned as a meeting hall, for socials and anything that needed a large room. Eventually the roof tiles, windows, and interior wood went to the middle school in Beatty. (notes con't below)
                                         

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Notes Continued:  From the school, we drove down Broadway Street to the jail. This substantial building had heavy steel doors and steel bared windows (Fig. 08). The judge's office was in the front and six steel cells housed Rhyolite's rowdier residences in the rear. The window at the back of the building was as twice as wide as the side windows, and provided a "picture window" view looking over the full valley below the town (Fig. 09). Other foundations along this road were the remains of the adobe Dance Hall and a saloon. Turning and heading up Esmeralda Road there was a building of a residence that may have once been a brothel (Fig. 10). This large, two room house was built in 1905. Further up this road was an area that was referred to as "Nob Hill" where the 'rich folks' lived. All that's left of the Taylor home is the Chimney. The rest of this house survives in Beatty. Next we visited the Cook Bank and the Overbury Buildings (below).
                                     
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(Fig. 10)

Cook & Co. Bank: The Bank of John S. Cook & Company (Figs. 11, 12 & 13) was first established in 1905 by John S. Cook, as a private bank, and with a capital of $50,000. Constructed in 1907 at a cost of nearly $90,000, the three-story John S Cook & Company Building was located on the southwest corner of Golden and Broadway (Ramsey Corner) Streets and was the tallest building in town. Completed and opened for business in January, 1908, the first floor housed the J S Cook banking corporation, which was shortly absorbed by the First National Bank of Rhyolite, Nevada. It had two vaults, marble floors imported from Italy, mahogany woodwork, electric lights, telephones, and inside plumbing.Brokers' offices utilized most of the second and third floors, while the town’s post office occupied the basement. The post office was the last business to leave the town in 1919. The collage in (Fig. 13) show some of the detail of the once magnificent building. Is also shows the sidewalk that ran down the street in front of the entrance (lower right). The lower left picture in the collage shows the remains of the Jewelry store that was attached to the building.

The Overbury Building: In 1907, Rhyolite resident John Overbury returned from a trip to Europe and built one of the most modern buildings in the west. The Overbury Building (Figs. 14, 15 & 16) was a grand, three-story structure that opened in June of 1907. The cost of the building is said to have been $50,000. It was built of rock and concrete and had modern plumbing, fire plugs and fire hoses on every floor, electric wiring and a 5,000 gallon water tank on the roof. The stone was cut from a quarry just north of town.  It housed more than 25 elegant offices. The building was located on Golden Street midway between Broadway and Colorado across from the Porter Store. The First National Bank of Rhyolite, Nevada was housed in the Overbury Building prior to locating in the John S Cook & Co. building a year later. The building also housed a jewelry store. Note: After the town was deserted, a mining company came in and took the stones of the Overbury Building and ground them up to fine power to get the gold out. That's one of the reasons it is in even worse shape than the rest.

The Porter Brothers Store: Built in 1906, the Porter brothers had three stores in California. The Porter brothers were successful merchants in the Southern California mining town of Randsburg, and when Rhyolite hit the news, they headed across the desert to open a branch in the new mining city. Operating their first store in a tent in April 1905, they quickly graduated to a wood frame building in June,. In August of 1906 construction began on a 30 x 80 cut stone store building with a basement that cost $10,000 (Figs. 17 & 18). It opened with a dance on November 12. Grand plate glass windows and a door filled the now empty opening. You could buy anything here, mining supplies, can food, pillows and blankets, etc. They then turned the wooden building into a furniture store. They also had a lumber yard and warehouse. The picture in (Fig. 18) shows the wooden framing behind the front facade. Only three and a half years later, on May 14, 1910, the store closed. H.D. Porter remained behind as the town's postmaster until the post office closed in 1918. Last, at the top of Golden Street (map - Fig. 02) was the Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot. (See below)
             
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 17)

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The Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot: To this day, it is probably fitting that the Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot (Figs. 19 & 20) is still the best preserved structure in town. It was completed in 1908, at a reported cost of $130,000, equivalent to about $3,470,000 in 2017 when adjusted for inflation. The California mission style depot is built of cut stone that was hauled from Las Vegas. The upper floor was used as housing for ticket agents and other depot employees. The first train into Rhyolite was in December of 1906. There were separate waiting areas and baggage rooms for the men and women, men on the left and women on the right. The second railroad line into Rhyolite was the Goldfield Bullfrog line in June of 1907. The last one, using the tracks of the G&B was the Tonoph Tidewater. The Las Vegas Tonopah Railroad stopped its passenger service to Rhyolite in 1916. Over the years the building has served a variety of businesses, including museum and a casino. (Fig. 20) shows the rear of the building. Behind the depot there is an old Los Angles & Salt Lake Union Pacific caboose. (Fig. 22) shows the inside of the caboose. Just beyond the Depot there is the remains of another slowly deteriorating residence.

After several hours touring the town, before heading to Beatty for lunch, we drove to the Bullfrog Cemetery (see Fig. 02). Click here for cemetery pictures and information ... Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery.

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