Death Valley Ghost Towns in Nevada

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Amargosa Station,1906

Amargosa – First called Johnnie Station, this was once an important stop on the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad, originally established as a  temporary site while tracks were being laid westward toward Rhyolite and Beatty. However, it became a permanent station when strikes were made at Johnnie. When a post office was opened in December 1901, the name was changed to Amargosa, meaning “bitter water” in Spanish, because a recent well dug in the area had brought up nothing but brackish water. The post office was short-lived however and closed just a year later. Another opened three miles west of Rhyolite in 1904 which then serviced the Amargosa community. By then, the tiny settlement had begun to boast a few businesses, including a store, hotel, restaurant, and a blacksmith shop.

An important shipping point for Johnnie and other areas to the west, a daily stage was established from Amargosa to Johnnie. It also became a stopping point and freight stop for people and supplies heading to the new copper finds at Greenwater, California.  When the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad was completed westward in 1907, Amargosa’s shipping activities declined as well as the town, leaving only the railroad agent and one merchant.

However, when the mines at Johnnie began to produced again, people soon came back. In 1914 it supported about 25 people, but three years later it was completely abandoned. The only remnant of Amargosa is the large concrete foundation of the old station and it is difficult to find. The old townsite is located about 16.5 miles east of Amargosa Valley on the north side of US 95.

Note: The townsites of Original, Nevada and Death Valley Junction, California, were also called Amargosa for a time. Bullfrog, Nevada was also called Amargosa City briefly.

Ashton- About 15 miles southwest of Beatty, Ashton was a small water stop on the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad. It never really developed and after the railroad pulled out it was abandoned. There are no remains today.

Beatty NV 1906

Beatty – Not a ghost town, but a vital part of Death Valley mining days, Beatty is a small community today with a population of about 1,100 people. It was established in 1905 when the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad planned to come through the area. The town was named for Montillus Murray “Old Man” Beatty, who settled on a ranch in the Oasis Valley in 1896 and became Beatty’s first postmaster. A townsite was soon laid out and Ernest Alexander “Bob” Montgomery, owner of the Montgomery-Shoshone Mine near Rhyolite, built one of its first major buildings — the Montgomery Hotel.

During Beatty’s first year, wagons pulled by teams of horses or mules hauled freight between the Bullfrog District, which included the boomtown camps of  RhyoliteBullfrogGold CenterTransvaal, and Springdale; to the nearest railroad, at that time in Las Vegas. By the middle of 1905, some 1,500 horses were being utilized. That same year, Beatty gained a newspaper called the Beatty Bullfrog Miner. The town became a major transportation hub when the railroad arrived in October, 1906. The following year, in April, the Bullfrog & Goldfield Railroad arrived and the Tonopah & Tidewater added a third railroad in October 1907.

Unfortunately, when the mining towns which Beatty supported declined after the Panic of 1907, Beatty did as well. The Beatty Bullfrog Miner went out of business in 1909. Residents then received their news from the nearby Rhyolite Herald, but, it too, went out of publication in 1912.

Beatty, Nevada 2015, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad ceased operations into Beatty in 1918. The Bullfrog & Goldfield Railroad followed suit a decade later in 1928. However, the town still sported the Tonopah and Tidewater and continued to act as a railhead for the area. It too, would pull out of the small town in 1940. However, that same decade, Nellis Air Force Base and other federal installations contributed to the town’s economy, as did tourism from Death Valley National Park, and the rise of Las Vegas as an entertainment center. However, by 1950, it was only called home to 485 people.

The Beatty area had no newspaper for decades until 1947, when the Beatty Bulletin, a supplement to the Goldfield News, began to be published. However, it would only last until 1956.

When a new mine opened west of Beatty in 1988, the population briefly surged from about 1,000 to nearly 2,000 by the end of 1990. However, like the mines before it, this one also closed in 1998 and the population feel to its former level. Today, the small town is home to the Beatty Museum and Historical Society and to businesses catering to tourist travel.

Bonnie Claire in 1908, California Panorama Co.

Bonnie Claire– Also known by several other names including Clare, Clair, Thorp’s Wells, Thorp, Montana Station, Summerville and Gold Mountain, mining began in the area in the 1880’s and a small stamp mill was built at a site then known as Thorp’s Wells. Serving several mines located near Gold Mountain some six miles to the northwest. It operated into the early 1900’s when the Bonnie Claire Bullfrog Mining Company purchased it. A small camp formed and a stage line from Bullfrog to Goldfield ran through the camp, which was then called Thorp. Another small camp called Summerville also developed about a mile northwest, but it was short lived. In 1904, the company built a larger mill called the Bonnie Claire, which treated ore from all over the district. A post office called Thorp was established in June, 1905.

The camp grew slowly until September, 1906 when the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad reached the settlement. The new station was called Montana Station, but, when a townsite was platted the following month, it was called Bonnie Claire. However, the post office wouldn’t be renamed from thorp to Bonnie Claire until 1909, due to issues with the government.

A number of properties began to produce on Gold Mountain and the Bonnie Claire Bullfrog Mining company built a 20-stamp mill at about which time the community peaked with a population of about 100 people. However, the Panic of 1907 scared investors, which caused a suspension in mining operations and dashed the dreams to town promoters. The town limped along with a few residents, but continued only because the railroad passed through the small community.

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In 1925, the town was boosted by the building of Scotty’s Castle, a fantasy house in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon some 20 miles to the southwest. For the next three years, nearly all the items required in the difficult construction of the elaborate castle arrived at the Bonnie Claire station over the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad. From there, the supplies were hauled by mule-drawn wagons and four-wheel drive trucks to the site.

The elaborate mansion was never finished and in 1928, when the railroad pulled out of Bonnie Claire, the town quickly died. Its post office closed and the railroad tracks removed in 1931. Later, the area was revived by the Lippincott Smelter which processed lead ore from the Lippincott Mine from 1935-1953.

Significant ruins remain at the site including the ruins of the Lippincott Smelter, Montana Station Mill, and a couple of buildings. It is located about 20 miles northeast of Scotty’s Castle on CA-72/NV267.

Remains of the Bonnie Claire Mine, photo by Dave Alexander, February, 2015.

A smaller mine across from the main Bonnie Claire Mine, photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, February, 2015.

Bowlerville – A mining camp in the early 20th Century, it was located a few miles south of the Johnnie Mine. It was named to commemorate Fred Bowler, who owned the mine.

Browne’s Camp – Located in Nye County, Nevada, this was a short lived mining camp that existed around 1907. Though some shallow ore deposits were found, they were not productive enough to continue and the camp was abandoned. By the 1920’s it had disappeared from maps. There are no remains.

Old jail at Bullfrog, Nevada, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, February, 2015.

Bullfrog – Also called Bonanza and Amargosa City, Bullfrog was established after famous prospector Shorty Harris discovered gold nearby in 1904, and the Original Bullfrog Mine was opened. The entire tent town of Original (also called Amargosa,) which was located near the original Bullfrog mine, moved to the Bullfrog townsite in March, 1905. Within no time the town boasted about 1,000 people, a two-story hotel, a jail, post office, another three-story hotel, a lodging house, a general store, a bank, and an icehouse, as well as a number of other businesses and homes. However, at the same time, the nearby town of Rhyolite was also being established, which quickly caused a fierce competition between the two communities. Making matters worse for the fledgling mining camp were a number of fatal gunfights.

As Rhyolite continued to grow, Bullfrog declined and by 1907 it was nearly empty. Many of its buildings had been moved to Rhyolite. The post office lasted until May, 1909. Both Rhyolite and what was left of Bullfrog were were doomed by the financial panic of 1907. The town’s last large building, a hotel, burned to the ground in June, 1906. Today, all that’s left of the old townsite are the remains of an ice house and a jail. Nearby is the Bullfrog-Rhyolite cemetery, just south of the Bullfrog townsite. It is located at the north end of the Amargosa Desert about four miles west of Beatty. Less than a mile  north of Bullfrog are the Bullfrog Hills and the ghost town of Rhyolite.

An old cement plant near the ghost town of Carrara, Nevada. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Carrara – A town founded on marble quarrying, the settlement got its start as early as 1904, but it wasn’t officially dedicated until 1913. The post office closed in 1924. A cement company built several buildings about a mile north of the townsite in 1936, but it never began operations. The ruins of several large stone buildings associated with the old cement company can still be seen. At the townsite itself, little is left but a few foundations. Up the hill are the sparse remains of the Gold Ace Mine and the marble quarries. It is located 8.75 miles south of BeattyNevada on US 95.

Charlestown – Located in Nye County, Nevada, Charlestown was an obscure railroad and mining camp that came into existence in 1906 as the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad progressed westward to Rhyolite. When the railroad tore up its tracks in 1918, the camp was abandoned. Only some wood rubble from the water tank tower marks the site.

Chloride City – This settlement was established in 1905 when the Bullfrog strike brought people into the area to re-work old mining claims, established as early as 1873. Having a very short life, it became a ghost town within a year. It was revived in 1916 and the remains that can be seen today are primarily from that time period. A few mine openings, mill ruins, dumps, and the remains of three stamp mills can be seen in the area along with the grave of a man named James McKay, of whom nothing is known. It is located in the East-central side of Death Valley; 14 miles Southwest of Beatty, Nevada.

Currie Well – Currie Well’s claim to fame rests mostly on its use as a desert watering hole for stages and trains traveling between Rhyolite and Goldfield. Located some eleven miles north of Rhyolite, the water from this site was first used to supply thirsty horses, mules, teamsters and passengers traveling through the area. The site was claimed in succession by several miners and entrepreneurs, who tried to eke out a living by selling water,  travelers providing meals, and forage for animals. There is no indication that these efforts, which lasted intermittently from 1907 to 1909, ever paid off. Sporadic efforts were also made in later years to improve the well site, with no obvious degree of success, and in 1911 two intrepid souls attempted to start a farm garden and alfalfa field. Again, the short life of these operations indicates that they were entirely unsuccessful.

The two brief spurts of real activity which surround the well site came during 1907, when the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad’s construction crew made the place a work camp due to its water source, and during 1909, when the owner of the well tried unsuccessfully to improve the water flow in order to pipe it to adjacent mines. These spurts of activity were brief, however, and soon died out. Several short-lived mining companies also briefly tried to develop their claims in the area, but all these efforts died quickly.

Today, the site is littered with debris, but still contains some low stone walls and the ruins of a small beehive furnace. it is located about 11 miles north of Rhyolite alongside the grade of the abandoned Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad.

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Gold Bar, Nevada

Gold Bar, Nevada

Gold Bar – A small mining camp in the Bullfrog Mining District, it got its start in 1905 at the base of the Gold Bar Mine and the Homestake-King Mine and Mill. Sitting side by side, the mines seemed to do very well for the first several years partly because of their close proximity to the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad, making the transportation of ore much less costly. The townsite of Gold Bar eventually supported about 50 people and had a number of substantial buildings. In the end, the Gold Bar Mine turned out to be a swindle, with the only people making any money being the promoters.

However, the Homestake-King Mine was one of the most honestly and wisely run companies of its time. However, by 1908 the recession caused by the Panic of 1907 caught up with Gold Bar, as well as nearby Rhyolite, and operations began to slow down and eventually stop. The Gold Bar Mine closed in 1908 and the Homestake-King, the following year. Most of the buildings were then moved to Rhyolite. In the 1930’s the Homestake-King was purchased and in 1937 was being worked by 14 men. However, it was short lived. It is now part of the Death Valley National Park. There is nothing left of the mining camp, and only a little of the Gold Bar property — a few shafts, adits, and the foundations of the mill site. Of the Homestake-King mine, there are several ruins including shafts, adits, and six very large foundations of the mill. To get to the site, travel west from Bullfrog one mile and take a right at the fork. Continue for another ½ mile and take another right at the fork. follow this road for 3 ½ miles to Gold Bar.

Mill foundations at Gold Center, Nevada, courtesy Wikipedia

Gold Center – Located in the Bullfrog Mining District near Tonopah, Gold Center was established in December, 1904 and a post office opened the next month. Why it was called Gold Center is a mystery, as there was no gold there. Instead it was a transportation hub and critical water source for Bullfrog,  Rhyolite, and Carrara. The Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, and the Union Pacific Railroad all ran through the town. At the time of its peak in 1907, it boasted a hotel, a bank, brokerage firms, a newspaper, a few mercantile stores, numerous saloons, an ice house and two mills. The most imposing building in gold Center was the Gold Center Ice and Brewing Company, the first brewery in the area. When nearby Rhyolite began to decline in late 1908, Gold Center also faded and by 1911, the population was only about 25 people. The railroad tracks were pulled up in 1918. Today, little remains of the town other than the foundations of a stamp mill and brewery, the footers for a tank at the cyanide plant, and sections of the water line that ran between Gold Center and Carrara.

Johnnie – The story of Johnnie begins with the “Lost Breyfogle Mine.”  This tale begins in 1863 when a prospector by the name of Joshua Breyfogle brought a very rich piece of ore into the mining center of Austin, Nevada in 1863. Breyfogle who had been prospecting in Death Valley, had gotten lost after fleeing an Indian attack. Much later, his memories fuzzy, he began to search for the rich quartz ledge, but, though he searched for 26 years, he died before ever finding it. In 1891, while brothers, George and Bob Montgomery, were searching for the Lost Breyfogle Mine, they hired a Paiute Indian named “Indian Johnnie” as a guide. Steering them to a rich site of gold, the brothers believed it to be the Lost Breyfogle.

Johnnie, NV 1930s

The camp that grew up around the mine was first known as Montgomery, but the mine was known as the Johnnie Mine, after the Indian that had guided the brothers to the discovery. Soon the camp was also called Johnnie and supported about 100 people. The Johnnie mine site was a few miles northeast of the townsite. Also supporting the camp was the Congress Mine, sometimes called the Chispa Mine, which was located just west of the townsite. A post office was opened in August, 1891. A few years later; however, only the Congress Mine was active and the post office closed in March, 1894. When a  new mill was built for the Congress Mine in September, 1895, it employed 70 men and revived the camp briefly before it emptied out. The Congress Mine was sold in 1898 and about 50 men were back. But, due to unresolved labor disputes, the operations were quickly shut down again.

Still, it was not the end for Johnnie. When several new discoveries were made in 1905, the Congress Mine was again reopened and a number of new claims were staked. Just two years later, the camp boasted a population of about 350 people, several stores, saloons, hotels and restaurants. By 1914 the boom was over and the population dropped to less than 15 people. Just two years later, another discovery started Johnnie up again. The Eureka Johnnie Gold Mining Company began operations in 1921 and continued until 1925.

But, Johnnie didn’t die. There was still enough gold in the area for prospectors to keep working. However, the post office closed in November, 1935 an soon everyone was gone.  Over the next several years, the site changed hands several times. Though there are numerous remains at the site, including a few wood cabins, it is on private property and visitors are not allowed. It is located about 16 miles north of Pahrump on the west side of NV-160.

Leeland – Another station on the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad, it was established in 1906. It soon became the railhead for nearby mining camps including Lee, California/Nevada. In 1911 a post office was established, which lasted until 1914. The tracks were removed in the early 1940’s. Located about 17 miles south of Beatty, Nevada, there is little left but the foundations of the water tank and other railroad debris.

Longstreet Cabin

Longstreet Cabin – This historic cabin was originally built in 1895 by Jack Longstreet who settled in the Ash Meadows area. He lived in the cabin for several years before selling the property in 1906. Longstreet epitomized the mythical Western frontiersman: self-reliant, strong-willed, and fair-minded. He was at various times said to have been a feared gunman,  friend of the Indians, a farmer, a miner and a saloon keeper. The Longstreet Cabin was rebuilt by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in exactly the same location, with the stones from the original building. It is located in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

Manse Ranch – Also known as Yount’s Ranch, this place was first settled by Joseph Yount and his family in the 1870’s. Located near Manse Springs, it soon became a stopping place for prospectors and travelers moving between Las Vegas and the mining camps to the west. By the 1890 the Yount family had built their home into an Oasis which included  a large house as well as storerooms, corrals, stables, and barns. As others settled in the area, a post office was opened at the ranch in 1891 and stagecoaches running from Ivanpah to Bullfrog made regular stops there.  In 1905, the Las Vegas Age wrote of the ranch: “Manse has become a resort for travelers, where water, feed, shade, rest and table luxuries abound … watered by the springs and ditches, willows, cottonwood, poplars, and other shade trees have grown to maturity. Around the old ranch home are clustered umbrella trees, apples, walnuts, peaches, pears, plums and the smaller fruits and vegetables in abundance.” The population of the area was about 50 in 1911. Though the post office closed in 1914, the ranch continued to operate. Today, it still operates as a ranch and a dairy farm. It is located near Pahrump, Nevada.

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Mexican Camp – Located in the Grapevine Mountains about 13 miles west of Rhyolite, was the site of a short-term wood cutting operation during the early years of the Bullfrog boom. Located at a small, intermittent spring, the camp was the headquarters of a group of Mexicans, who cut timber from the surrounding hills, and hauled it to Rhyolite via a trail which connected the camp to Titus Canyon. Operations at the camp appeared to be marginally successful, until the arrival of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad in the Bullfrog District in December, 1906. After that, the Mexicans could no longer compete with the price of lumber brought in by the railroad, and the camp was abandoned. Nothing remains of the camp today.

Monarch Canyon Mine – Founded in 1905, this gold mine was located in the South Bullfrog District in Monarch Canyon, about two miles southwest of Keane Springs. Though never a large operation, a one-stamp mill was built at the site. It operated until about 1910. Today, the remains of the mill cascade down the mountainside. Much of the machinery and controls of the mill are still there, as well a portions of the old tram track, a tunnel adit, and some foundations. The old road to the mine has been long washed out, so access requires a one mile hike. It is located in the northeast portion of Death Valley.

From Beatty, head West on NV-374 for 15.8 miles, then turn left (east) and travel 2.2 miles. Follow the road to the right down into Monarch Canyon, until the road disappears. From here, access requires a hike of about a mile further down the canyon.

Original Bullfrog Mine, 1905.

Original – First called Amargosa, this small mining camp grew up near the Original Bullfrog Mine. Later, when the Las Vegas & Tohopah Railroad established a stop just south of the mine, the Amargosa townsite was renamed Original. It soon developed into the major camp in the district, featuring five stores, seven saloons, a restaurant, a post office, and the Hotel Courtmarsh. However, all the businesses were housed in tents and the camp was struggling as there was no close source of water. Due to the high cost of hauling water, the townsite company soon purchased another site, which they called Bullfrog. There are no remains today.

Pioneer – Located between the Mayflower and Pioneer Mines in the northern Bullfrog Hills, the mining camp got its start in  1908. A post office opened in March of the same year. The town grew quickly, soon sporting as many as 2,500 people and a number of businesses including a lumber company, theater, hotels, saloons, restaurants, bakeries, a shoe store, boardinghouses, a cigar store, and a Western Union office. Unfortunately, the very next year, a fire swept through the booming mining camp and burned most of the buildings. Though the town was partially rebuilt, it would never be the same. In 1914, part of the Pioneer Mine collapsed and was forced to shut down along with the mills. It reopened in 1915 and continued through 1931, when it was closed. The post office closed the same year and the town died. Mining continued on a much smaller basis until 1941, but few structures survived through the end of the 20th century. During the years, the district produced $1.6 million worth of ore.

Rose’s Well – Beginning as a stage stop, Rose’s well was, for a time, the only spot between Beatty and Las Vegas that offered shelter, meals, and other accommodations. A well dug at the site yielded 110 barrels of water a day. Later when the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad was built through the area, a number of structures were built in 1907, supporting the nearby boom at Lee, California/Nevada. In the beginning, Rose’s Wells was an important way stop, but, was later used as just a water stop for the railroad. It continued to function until the railroad was discontinued in 1918. The site was then abandoned and all that’s left of it today, is the old well. It is located 17 miles south of Beatty.

Rhyolite – Called the Queen City of Death Valley, Rhyolite once boasted a population of 6,000 people. Located in the Bullfrog Hills, about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern edge of Death Valley, the town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills. The financial panic of 1907 caused the boom town to decline and by 1910, it support just 675 people, and was soon abandoned. It is one of the most famous ghost towns in the American West today, due to the large number of still standing buildings. It is a tourist destination today maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. It is located 1.5 miles north of Route 374 near Beatty, Nevada. See full article HERE.

Springdale  – Before the coming of settlers to the area, this site was long used by Native American. Later a number of small ranches were built at the fertile location. In the winter of 1906, it became a watering station on the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad. A station house and water tank were built by the railroad and a small settlement grew up around it. By the summer of 1907, it boasted a school, four saloons, a several restaurants, a hotel, livery stable, a popular red light district and a 50-ton mill, which treated ores from nearby mines. It remained an important stop on the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad until Pioneer began to decline late in 1911, at which time it had a population of about 75 people. However, when the mill was forced to close, most everyone left and the population at the end of the year was only ten people. The post office closed the following year. Though a fairly substantial town at one time, there are scant remains today. Even the trains stopped running in 1928 and Springdale faded into history. It is located ten miles north of BeattyNevada off Highway 95.

Sterling – The Sterling Mine discovery was made in 1869, but it was never extremely productive. By the early 1890’s a small mill was processing the ore. But, activity soon feel off and the site was abandoned. In the early 20th Century, the Ore City Mining Company reopened the Sterling Mine and began intensive operations. Finding both gold and copper at the mine and in other area claims, a townsite was platted at the base of Mount Sterling and before long about 25 residents lived there. But, the town only last for about a year. There are only scant ruins today. It was located about 20 miles north of Pahrump, Nevada.

Strozzi Ranch – Located two miles southeast of the Phinney Mine, or about sixteen miles northwest of Rhyolite, this was the scene of a 1930-era ranching effort in the Grapevine Mountains.

The site was homesteaded by Caesar Strozzi around 1931, and was seasonally used between then and 1947. The ranch is located just north of Brier Springs, which Strozzi used for a water source. During the sixteen years that Strozzi utilized the ranch site, he erected several major improvements. Today the visitor may see the remains of a main house constructed of wood and tin, and several shacks, utilized by the ranching operations. Several fruit trees planted by Strozzi can still be seen in the area.

Telluride – A very small camp it was called Telluride because of the colorful tellurium found in the ore. Very near the camp of Fluorine, it never had a population f more than 25 people and had disappeared from the maps by 1910. Only some small tailing piles mark the site. It was located about 4.5 southeast of Beatty, Nevada.

Transvaal – One of the fastest growing and dying boom towns in Nevada mining history, this camp got its start in February, 1906 when George Probasco found gold in the east of Oasis Valley. By early April there were more than seventy-five tents in the camp, which housed not only some 700 people but also four saloons, an assay office, lumberyard, boarding house, two newspapers, and several other businesses. Two daily stages ran from Beatty to Transvaal every day and the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad began making plans for a six-mile spur to the camp. However, by the second week of May, it was found that the initial discoveries contained little valuable ore and by the end of the month, everyone was gone. There are no remains except some mine dumps. Located about 12 miles north of Rhyolite the site is difficult to get to.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated August 2022

Also See:

Death Valley Ghost Towns & Mines (index)

The Bullfrog Mining District

Death Valley National Park

Lost Breyfogle Mine

Lost Gunsight Mine of Death Valley

Rhyolite, Nevada – Little More Than a Memory