Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 185 - Rhyolite Ghost Town

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Rusted Tin Can
Brothel with Reflection
Rhyolite was a boom town in the early 1900's, with the promise of gold.  Although it was not a Gold Rush town, there was enough perceived potential in the hills that the town swelled dramatically.  According to Wikipedia, " By 1907, Rhyolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, newspapers, a hospital, a school, an opera house, and a stock exchange. Published estimates of the town's peak population vary widely, but scholarly sources generally place it in a range between 3,500 and 5,000 in 1907–08."

Main Street Marker
The Mercantile
However, it fell as dramatically as it rose, when it was realized that the gold was not going to materialize.  It was abandoned by 1920, and it is now maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, in an effort to preserve the site.

We arrived around 10:00 this morning, and the wind was whipping through the area.  On our way from Furnace Creek, the temperature dropped from 67 to 52 as we gained altitude.  Rhyolite is more than 3,000 feet above sea level, but our hotel is at -178 feet.
Grave with Wooden Marker

Lonesome Grave
I walked along the former streets of the town, amazed by the amount of rusted tin cans and broken bottles that litter the ground.  Things are pretty much left as they were in the 1920's, giving clear evidence that our trash does not disintegrate.  The metal was rusted, but the broken glass shards of bottles looked like they were broken yesterday.

The "town" consists of the remains of a school, a brothel, a jail, a saloon, a mercantile, and other rubble.  The streets are still identifiable, and off in the distant hills, you can see openings for mine entrances.

Small Outbuilding
Young Joshua Tree
The cemetery is off in the distance, and there were some graves as late as 1979, according to the markers, mixed in with those that were merely rock covered mounds.  Some had wooden markers, and some were surrounded with wrought iron fences.

It was an interesting walk around this ghost town, knowing that it was once much larger and grander and full of life.  Today, there are just a few reminders of what life was once like in Rhyolite.


Visit my photography show, "My Maryland," at the public library in Urbana, Maryland, on the lower level of the building.  It is there until the end of April.

Hurricane Sandy Relief: Donate to the Red Cross, and I will mail you a 5 x 7 print from any of the photos I have posted on my blog OR any photo on my website.

Forward to me via email a receipt for donating to the Red Cross. Tell me whether the photo is from the blog or the website, and Include its title along with a mailing address. The name on the receipt to the Red Cross must match the name of the mailing recipient. Send the receipt and the photo request to

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Cam's rules for the Daily Photo Walk:
  1. walk every day
  2. the walk must be in addition to any other planned activity for the day
  3. post a photo every day
  4. use my Nikon P7100 (it is a very convenient size and weight)
  5. no weather excuses
  6. walk only where it is safe to do so

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