Friday, November 15, 2013

Mining Towns of Mina, Tonopah and Gold Point, NV

Obviously, we make it to town to buy fuel.  We are not stuck somewhere in the desert!

Between Reno and Las Vegas on lonely Highway 95 are numerous small mining towns, some still prospering, others are ghost towns.  We visit three towns - Mina, Tonopah (pron. TO-no-pah) and Gold Point.  In the early 1900s, Nevada was a boom state with gold and silver being the most mined ores.  The mountains are full of abandoned mines and ghost towns.  And along Highway 95 we pass the Playmate Ranch (renamed Wild Kat Ranch) outside of Mina and the Shady Lady Ranch north of Beatty.  They are advertised along the road and offer massages, showers, beer and women.  Not something we see every day.

Mina should be a ghost town, but isn't. There are 200 residents with only about 12 of working age. There is a store which sells fuel, beer and ice cream - all of the essentials. There is also a world-class burger stand run by two hilarious women, the owner aged 67 and her friend who is 83! These two argue like a married couple. It is call Socorro's - the owner's name - and the burgers and shakes are fantastic! And they'd better be - two burgers, two shakes and one order of onion rings cost over $30! We always see truckers at the stand, a clear indication of where to eat.
A small herd of wild burros we scare as we drive around a corner in Douglas Canyon behind Mina. I know they look like horses, but they have squarer faces and long ears.
A old mining building in Douglas Canyon. Probably this building was where the rock was sorted and/or crushed to extract the ore.
In the center of Mina, only one of the many abandoned buildings. The resident dies and the building just sits to rot.
Tonopah is a fairly big town with a full grocery store, about half a dozen gas stations and other stores, but the town jewel is the Mizpah Hotel which is home to at least one ghost, the Lady in Red (a "female companion of miners") who was murdered on the fifth floor by her lover. A large cemetery is filled with pioneers and miners from the early 1900s - many from a 1902 lung "plague" and 17 from the Belmont Mine fire of 1911. There are also two excellent museums: The Central Nevada Mining Museum which showcases a lot of pioneer history of the area as well as a large collection of original mine equipment, and the Tonopah Mining Park where the three original mines which started the town have been preserved.
The headframe and hoist building of the Mizpah Mine at the Tonopah Mining Park. Originally Belle Butler's mine, and the richest of the three original mines she and her husband Jim founded, it was taken over by a large corporation by 1908 when this metal headframe was built.
The old Tonopah Cemetery. So many sad stories besides the deaths from the "Tonopah Plague" of 1902 and the mine fire of 1911; like the 33-year old woman from B.C. who died of a morphine overdose, the 11-year old boy who died of a gun shot wound, a young man who died in a mine explosion, and a Sheriff who was "shot to death".
Marilyn outside the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah. Built in 1908, it has been renovated a couple of times, most recently by the Clines of California who spent $2 million in the renovation in 2011. The restoration is a labour of love, and it shows.
After lunch at the Mizpah Hotel, Marilyn sitting in the lobby. These sofas are the originals, painstakingly cleaned and reupholstered.
Mizpah is from Genesis, Chapter 31, verse 49 and has two interpretations.  1 - may God watch over me and thee; 2 - if you cross the line to harm me or my family, may God deal with you.
The beautiful windows of the Mizpah Hotel. The glass is purple, which in the early 1900s was a mistake when the mineral manganese was added to the glass-making process and it turned purple in the sunlight because of ultraviolet rays. There are at least half a dozen of these windows around the front and side of the hotel.
Gold Point is considered a ghost town although there are still 27 residents. Many of the original mining buildings are being restored by new owners, whom we unfortunately did not see.
Brad climbing to the gallows, first one we've ever seen and kind of creepy.
One of the buildings on Gold Street - "Hornsilver Townsite & Telephone Company". Hornsilver was the previous name of Gold Point.
Mitchell's Mercantile.
Believe it or not, this home is still inhabited by one of the 27 residents.


  1. Oh, how I love the Wild West. We need a trip there again soon. Did I tell you about two great woman authors who write about pioneer women going West? Try Sandra Dallas and Jane Kirkpatrick. Love their stuff.

  2. Yes you did Lynda. I've not seen any of their books in my travels, but will keep a look out.