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Ghost Town of Rhyolite Nevada


On the edge of Death Valley lies the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Once a thriving metropolis with dreams of becoming one of the west's largest cities, today it stands in ruins. What happened here? Where did the people go? And does a mysterious grave at the edge of town provide a clue as to the town's last dying days? This is the Strange Case of Rhyolite, Nevada! The town is named for rhyolite, an igneous rock composed of light-colored silicates, usually buff to pink and occasionally light gray. It belongs to the same rock class, felsic, as granite but is much less common. Bordered on three sides by ridges but open to the south, the ghost town is at 3,800 feet (1,200 m) above sea level. The high points of the ridges are Ladd Mountain to the east, Sutherland Mountain to the west, and Busch Peak to the north. Sawtooth Mountain, the highest point in the Bullfrog Hills, rises to 6,002 feet (1,829 m) above sea level about 3 miles (4.8 km) northwest of Rhyolite. The Bullfrog Hills are at the western edge of the southwestern Nevada volcanic field. Extensionally faulted volcanic rocks, ranging in age from about 13.3 million years to about 7.6 million years, overlie the region's Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The prevailing rocks, which contain the ore deposits, are a series of rhyolitic lava flows that built to a combined thickness of about 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above the more ancient rock. "Bullfrog" was the name Frank "Shorty" Harris and Ernest "Ed" Cross, the prospectors who started the Bullfrog gold rush, gave to their mine. On August 9, 1904, Cross and Harris found gold on the south side of a southwestern Nevada hill later called Bullfrog Mountain. Assays of ore samples from the site suggested values up to $3,000 a ton, or about $79,000 a ton in 2014 dollars when adjusted for inflation. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, miners and service providers flocked to the Bullfrog Mining District. Many settled in Rhyolite, which lay in a sheltered desert basin near the region's biggest producer, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine. After the richest ore was exhausted, production fell. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital. In 1908, investors in the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, concerned that it was overvalued, ordered an independent study. When the study's findings proved unfavorable, the company's stock value crashed, further restricting funding. By the end of 1910, the mine was operating at a loss, and it closed in 1911. By this time, many out-of-work miners had moved elsewhere, and Rhyolite's population dropped well below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to zero. After 1920, Rhyolite and its ruins became a tourist attraction and a setting for motion pictures. Most of its buildings crumbled, were salvaged for building materials, or were moved to nearby Beatty or other towns, although the railway depot and a house made chiefly of empty bottles were repaired and preserved.

glass bottle house general store
Glass bottle house and General Store

The Goldwell Open Air Museum lies on private property just south of the ghost town, which is on property overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The Goldwell Open Air Museum was created in 2000 after the death of Albert Szukalski to protect and preserve the art there. The Goldwell Open Air Museum is an outdoor sculpture park near the ghost town of Rhyolite in the U.S. state of Nevada. The 7.8-acre (3.2 ha) site is located at the northern end of the Amargosa Valley, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, and about 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Beatty off State Route 374. About 5 miles (8.0 km) further west is Death Valley National Park.

Red Barn at Bullfrog

In addition to the museum, the site includes the Red Barn Art Center, a 2,250-square-foot (209 m2) multi-purpose studio and exhibition space used by artists-in-residence and other artists. Near the art center are the ruins of a jail and other buildings of the historic mining town of Bullfrog. You are encouraged you to explore the environment and enjoy the mix of art and the ghost town of Rhyolite.

The Goldwell Open Air Museum

pink lady205
The Pink Lady–Lady Desert–Venus of Nevada 1992 Dr Hugo Heyrman

The Last Supper 1984 Albert Szukalski
The Last Supper 1984 Albert Szukalski

Ghost Rider 1984 Albert Szukalski
Ghost Rider 1984 Albert Szukalski

This is the story of Rhyolite:

More pics: rhyolite

Glass bottle house and general store: More pics
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