When a lode of silver ore was discovered in Nevada in 1859, boomtowns started popping up all over as people from the Eastern U.S. moved for a chance to strike it rich.
Around the turn of the century, newly minted prospectors moved on, in some cases leaving behind their homes, buildings and mining equipment. Today, there are more than 600 ghost towns throughout the state, which is more than the number of inhabited cities in Nevada. Many are located in the northern half of the state, and some even have a handful of residents, making these “living” ghost towns. Here are six ghost towns worth checking out:
At its height, Rhyolite had a population of 5,000 with 50 saloons, 35 gambling tables and 19 lodging houses. The mines closed by 1910 following the San Francisco earthquake, which disrupted rail service to the Nevada mining city. Today, Rhyolite is one of the most photographed ghost towns in the state.
The train depot in Rhyolite, Nevada
In northwestern Nevada you’ll find the living ghost town of Jarbidge. Surrounded by sweeping landscapes, the sleepy town was one of the last cities to be swept into the western Gold Rush, but mining facilities closed up shop at the start of World War I. Visitors can still see original miners’ huts and buildings, including the town’s original jail.
The old jailhouse in Jarbidge, Nevada
Located between Reno and Las Vegas, the city of Goldfield suffered one of the largest busts, which once home to 30,000 at the turn of the 1900s. Today, less than 300 people live among the boomtown’s remains, including the courthouse that was outfitted with Tiffany and Co. lamps and the haunted Goldfield Hotel.
The old Goldfield Hotel in Goldfield, Nevada
People were drawn to the town of Pioche following the silver boom in the area. The town, though thriving, was rough where shootouts used to occur in the streets. People were laid to rest at the Boot Hill Cemetery located near the original aerial tramway. Make sure to see the Million Dollar Courthouse or the haunted Overland Hotel & Saloon.
The Pioche Fire House in Pioche, Nevada
Located in the center of the state, Belmont boasts many standing structures that are now more than 150 years old, though many are without roofs. This is because when the city was nearly abandoned during the late 1800s, prospectors wanted to keep the timber with them, as it was hard to come by in the deserts of Nevada. Make sure to see the Belmont Courthouse and the mill site ruins.
Berlin was established shortly after silver was discovered in the nearby central Nevada hills during the late 1800s. The ghost town today is preserved by the Nevada State Parks system, and features old miner cabins with furnishings, a machine shop and the 30-stamp mill including the old Ford truck that sits just outside, which is arguably one of the most photographed items in Nevada. Don’t miss the Fossil House, where you can see the largest concentration of Ichthyosaur fossils in the world.
The old mill in Berlin, Nevada
Unionville was actually known for its lode of gold ore once attracted the likes of U.S. author Mark Twain, who later wrote of his time there in his book “Roughing It.” Twain moved to Unionville from Missouri, and describes the small cabin he lived in pressed into a hill in his novel. Today, visitors can see the cabin for themselves, but due to more than a century of exposure to the elements, it’s too dangerous to enter.
Many ghost towns are off the beaten path. It’s advised to have a all-terrain vehicle. Some locations pose hazards, including open, abandoned mine pits and shafts that a person can fall into. In some remote locations, there is limited cell service. When exploring these older homes and buildings, please leave the artifacts as you found them.
For more off-the-beaten-path experiences, be sure to check out five weirdly cool places to visit in the USA.
Goldwell Open Air in Rhyolite, Nevada