Goldfield Hotel - Luxury in the Desert
In the almost
is the historic and reportedly very haunted
Goldfield Hotel. The town
Goldfield was born when gold was
discovered in 1902 and within just a few short years, it became the
largest city in
as millions of dollars in ore were extracted from area mines. Like
other cities, whose only reason for being was its mining industry, when
the ore played out, so did the town. In addition to its numerous
saloons, the city once boasted three newspapers, five banks, a mining
stock exchange, and a population of nearly 35,000.
However, just eight
Goldfield was founded, the
volume of ore began to decrease and many of its residents began to move on
to more prosperous claims.
By 1920, the gold was almost
gone and the town was reduced to just about 1,500 people. Three
years later, a devastating fire wiped out 27 blocks of homes and
businesses. Today, this once thriving city supports a population
of less than 500, but still provides a number of views of its
prosperous past, with its centerpiece being the
In 1908, the
Goldfield Hotel, designed by
Architect George E. Holesworth, opened amidst an array of fanfare.
Built on the former site of the Nevada Hotel, which had burned down in
a fire in 1905, the hotel was first owned by J. Franklin Douglas and
several other investors.
The four story building of stone and brick cost over
$300,000 to build and included 154 rooms with telephones, electric
lights and heated steam. The lobby was paneled with mahogany and
furnished in black leather upholstery, beneath gold-leaf ceilings and
crystal chandeliers. The hotel imported chefs from Europe and boasted
one of the first Otis elevators west of the Mississippi River.
Considered to be the most luxurious hotel between
Chicago and San Francisco, it
appealed to society’s upper crust, making
it an immediate success.
However, shortly after the hotel was
built, it was sold to mining magnate, George Wingfield, primary owner of the
Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company, and hotel entrepreneur,
Casey McDannell, who created a new hotel corporation called Bonanza
Hotel Company. After paying $200,000 cash and stock valued at around
$250,000 for the hotel, the Goldfield property was merged with
existing hotels owned by McDannell into the new Bonanza Hotel Company.
Though George Wingfield owned a majority interest in the Bonanza Hotel
Company, his principle partner, Casey McDannell, managed and
operated the hotel.
As owner of the
Goldfield Consolidated Mines
Company, Wingfield was a multi-millionaire by the age of 30 and became
a political powerhouse in the State of
Nevada. After making his fortune in the gold fields, he went on to own a chain
of banks, numerous ranches, and several Reno hotels, in addition to
his interest in the
Goldfield Hotel and the Bonanza
Hotel Company. Active
in political party circles in the 1920's, he became the reputed boss
of both the Democratic and Republican parties. George Wingfield's power was legendary in his own time, and was publicly
demonstrated when the collapse of his twelve banks in 1932 almost led
to the economic ruin of the state.
1923, the Goldfield Hotel was sold to Newton Crumley, another hotel
entrepreneur who owned the Commericial Hotel in Elko, Nevada. Crumley, who
evidently also aspired to make to profit from the gold in the area, dug
two mine shafts beneath the hotel in 1925. However, both resulted in
Goldfield was in its heyday,
the hotel entertained all manner of affluent guests. However, as
the gold began to play out and
Goldfield Hotel began a
gradual decline. By the 1930s, when the town supported fewer
than 1,000 souls, it had become little more than a flop house for
cowboys and undiscriminating travelers. During World War II, it
housed Army Air Corp personnel assigned to the Tonopah Air Base 25
miles north of
Goldfield. After the soldiers
checked out the hotel in 1945, the hotel closed its doors forever. It
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 as a
contributing property in the Goldfield Historic District.
Over the years, the hotel has changed hands numerous times, with each
new owner promising to restore and reopen the old property. In 1985,
the building was bought by a San Francisco investor named Lester
O’Shea whose plans looked as if they might really come through.
However, after a few years when his restoration project was about 85%
complete, his company went bankrupt and the property reverted back to
the county. In 2003, the county auctioned off the old hotel, as well
as nearly ninety other parcels of historic land. A rancher from Carson
City named Edgar "Red” Roberts was the only bidder and bought the
hotel for $360,000.
Reportedly, Roberts has plans
to finish the refurbishing of the bottom two floors, spending an estimated
$1 million, to reopen the historic hotel to the public.The restoration project would include 40 guest rooms, a casino and a café.
The dying town of
Goldfield is pinning its hopes on
Roberts, knowing that the reopening could revitalize the town with new
jobs and tourism. However, they’ve heard it so many times, they’re not
holding their breath until they see it complete. When updating this story
in September of 2015, we couldn't find any indication of major progress.
What we did find is that work has been hampered by vandalism over the past
few years, and that is likely due to it's spooky history and attention it
Hotel lobby. Photo courtesy
Nevada Department of
Reportedly there are several
ghosts at the old hotel, the most famous of which is a
woman named Elizabeth*. According to the legend, Elizabeth was a
prostitute that George Wingfield visited frequently. When she turned up pregnant, she claimed the child was Wingfield’s, who
for a while paid her to stay away, fearful of how the scandal might affect
his business affairs. However, when she could no longer hide the
pregnancy, Wingfield was said to have lured her into room 109 of the
hotel, where he chained her to a radiator. Supplied with food and
water, she was left there until her child could be born. Reportedly
she cried out over and over for mercy, only to be met with silence. Some say that Elizabeth died in childbirth, but others contend that Wingfield murdered her after the child was born. Her baby was then
thrown into an old mining shaft. Afterwards, rumors abounded that
Elizabeth continued to visit Wingfield and the sound of a crying child
could sometimes be heard coming from the depths of the hotel.
This legend; however, has
a few problems that don't "mesh" with the history of the old building. The
legend actually asserts that Elizabeth died sometime in the 1930's,
at which time Wingfield no longer owned the hotel. It also alleges that
the baby was thrown into one of the mining shafts beneath the hotel, which
were built by Newton Crumley some two years after he purchased the
property from Wingfield in 1923.
Is the legend confusing
Wingfield and Crumley, or did it occur years earlier? Of this, we will
In any event, the legend persists and when the apparition of Elizabeth has
been sighted, she has been described as having long flowing hair, wearing
a white gown, and looking terribly sad as she paces the hallways, calling
out to her child. Others have reported her being sighted in Room 109,
which is often described as being intensely cold, and on one occasion a
ghostly figure appeared in a photograph of the room. However, most people
report that while their cameras function normally everywhere else in the
hotel, they refuse to work in room 109.
Two more ghosts who
reportedly committed suicide in third floor rooms of the hotel have been
sighted by more than a dozen people. While their identities are
unknown, one is said to be a woman who hanged herself, while the other is
said to be a man who jumped to his death from the hotel.
In what was once the main
dining room, called the Gold Room, a malevolent spirit, familiarly named
"The Stabber,” is said to randomly attack those who cross the threshold
with a large kitchen knife. Though the Stabber has never harmed
anyone, he is said to have frightened many before immediately disappearing
after the "attack.”
Near the lobby staircase, linger three small
spirits including two children and a midget that are said to be
pranksters, sneaking up behind people and tapping their backs before
giggling and dancing away.
Finally, George Wingfield
himself is said to haunt his old hotel, making his presence known by his
cigar smoke. Others have reported finding fresh cigar ashes in his
first floor room. His presence has also been sensed near the giant lobby
staircase. This legend too, has some problems with the history of the old
hotel, as Wingfield was not known to frequent the hotel, as it was managed
by his partner, Casey McDannell, and Wingfield's interest was only as an
investor. Additionally, Wingfield died in Reno, Nevada in 1959. Why would
his spirit continue to linger at the
Many psychics who have visited the old
hotel claim that it is a gateway into another world. In the fall of
Hotel was featured on
Fox Family TV’s World’s Scariest Places. It's been the subject of a
couple of paranormal investigation television series, including Ghost
Adventures in 2004, 2011 and 2013, and Ghost Hunters in 2008.
of America, updated July, 2015.
Update, April, 2009: The
legend of Elizabeth in the Goldfield Hotel is just that, a legend. If a
story is told enough times, as time goes by, then it becomes "true." I am
a direct relative of Martin Duffy, owner of the Florence Mine. During the
heyday of the Goldfield Hotel, my great uncle lived in the hotel. At that
time, everyone shared a restroom. My great uncle married the elevator
operator, Ruth Duffy. As you know the Goldfield Hotel had a working
elevator, that still works to this day. There was no Elizabeth, it was
just a rumor created to inspire people. My great uncle lived in the hotel
during the time of G. Wingfield, and there was no Elizabeth in the hotel.
Besides, he moved to Reno shortly after buying the hotel. -- Terri
Stewart, April, 2009.
* Reader Input, April,
great-grandfather on my mother's side of the family wallpapered and
painted the interior of the Goldfield Hotel. He stayed in the hotel while
he did his work, while his family remained in Bishop, CA. When the hotel
was completed, Pres. Teddy Roosevelt came to the opening festivities,
which supposedly included a waterfall of Champaign down the hotel stairs.
My great-grandfather met with and shook the president's hand during these
ceremonies, and he also purchased a German made "Teddy Bear" as a gift for
my grandmother. That stuffed bear is in the possession of my mother now. -
Ernest Tufft, April, 2011
Legends of America is in no
way affiliated with the
Hotel nor has any contact information for the present owner.
Additionally, please do not contact us with questions about a
Goldfield Hotel Spitoon that you own. All we can tell you about these, is
that they must have been manufactured and sold in great quantities,
because we get this question probably more than any other.
Hotel , April, 2005, Kathy Weiser.
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