Rhyolite, Nevada

This is the last installment of the Death Valley trip series.

The last morning in Beatty, Nevada, was spent eating a much-too-rich breakfast, our last celebration of freedom of this trip, then slowly (reluctantly) packing the Xterra and trailer for the trip home. However, after we fueled up, Hal and I drove the road toward Death Valley National Park one more time because between Beatty and the park was the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada.

Rhyolite was a boomtown, built on the hope and promise of gold. At one time, it was inhabited by over 10,000 occupants, a dramatic contrast to the meager assortment of building remnants that define the ghost town today. We hoped to shoot a few photographs before we left the area this year.

The day was bright, hot, the remains of the town sun-washed and clean. We spent nearly two hours there walking up and down the one remaining street. Here are some of the images I shot:

Our first stop was the “casino,” which originally was the train station in Rhyolite. No less than three lines ran from Rhyolite at the height of its existence. At the top of this post is the east end of the building, which is now surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

The walls of this unidentified structure are representative of the condition of most of the ruins in this town. Its heyday was from around 1905-1909, and most of it was already gone by 1939. I happened to find a book about Rhyolite that details its history. When I looked at the old photographs, they showed that the town was huge, spreading over the space between the mountains. When the meager gold ran out, the town was abandoned, and then it was nothing. I got the impression that some of it was dismantled, but otherwise, it has crumbled to ruin in the desert’s changing weather and extreme heat. You can read more about the town of Rhyolite, Nevada, by doing a search on the internet. There are many sites that give the town’s history.

The former general store (above) was one of my favorites to shoot.

This school, the second one built in the town, was big, and expensive. Apparently, it was never fully occupied; no thought was given at the time to how many students it would service. Unlike modern schools, it was overbuilt, roomy and not occupied to capacity. In the current political climate with the motivation to ruin public education, students are stuffed into rooms in schools that are much too small. “Only the worst for our kids,” should be the motto now, thanks to the politicians, who have no business being involved in education.

Random cool metal junk.

It looks like the wooden structure in the foreground, modern or old, I can’t tell, recently burned, taking the truck with it. It was a beautiful little truck; too bad someone didn’t think to move it. The mountains and ruins in the background lend a certain poignancy to the scene.

The famous bottle house, made with thousands of bottles in 1906. There were several saloons in town, so bottles were easy to come by. Strangely, the inside of the house is plastered, and from inside you would not know it was made of bottles. If it were me, I would want the light coming inside through the bottles to make it light-filled and amazing. But that’s just me.

Here is a detail of the bottle house wall:

Random dishes in the yard:

More salvage:

These are the only “inhabitants” of Rhyolite now, this weird Last Supper thing:

Time was getting away from us, so Hal and I had to hit the road for home before it got too late. As it was, we wouldn’t be returning to Phoenix until after dark. One last quick shot of the shoe tree before we left Rhyolite behind:


Every time I go to Death Valley and the places nearby, I am sad to leave. As we travel home,  Hal and I usually are talking about where we want to go next time we visit. For now, though, it is “goodbye, Death Valley, we’ll see you next spring!”


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