Gold Point - Waxing &
Waning Thru Time
The area that would become Gold Point,
towns, was first settled by ranchers and a few miners around 1880. A
small camp was formed a few hundred yards west of the present day town site
at an outcropping of limestone, and was called Lime Point.
When new discoveries of both gold and silver
established the major mining towns of Tonapah and
the early 1900s, a flood of prospectors returned to the old Lime Point
mining camp to try their luck.
In 1902 silver was
discovered in the area and within no time, the old camp was revived and
renamed Hornsilver for a particularly rich source of ore.
this time, the scarcity of water in the area required that the ore be
shipped to nearby Lida for milling. The only major supply town was
about 250 miles north at a town called Unionville, a major mining town
northeast of present day Lovelock.
Hornsilver Townsite & Telephone Company, April, 2005, Amy Stark.
image available for photographic prints
When the miners didn’t find the
silver in the abundance that they had hoped, the costs of shipping the
ore to Lida became too prohibitive and within a year, the early
settlement was abandoned.
However, in 1905, the Great Western Mine Company began operations about
a half mile southeast of Hornsilver and before long, discovered a rich
silver vein which brought a stampede of miners back to the camp. In addition to the rich silver ore, gold was also mined in limited
quantities. By 1908, the tent homes turned into more permanent
wooden structures and the camp became a town.
In May, 1908 the Hornsilver Herald began publication and the
following week a post office was established. Before long the
residents organized a Chamber of commerce and numerous businesses
sprouted up, including as many as 13 saloons. The Chamber began to
actively pursue a railroad extension to Hornsilver; however, that would
never occur, the nearest railroad depot being at Ralston, some 15 miles
east of Hornsilver. As deep ore bodies were extensively developed,
the town peaked at a population of around 1,000 with over 225
wood-framed buildings, tents and shacks throughout the camp.
Unfortunately, the town’s original founders didn’t find the boomtown
they had hoped for, as this strike also proved to be short lived. In 1909, litigation due to claim jumping brought many of the area mining
properties into the courts. These many lawsuits, along with
inefficient and costly milling practices halted the town’s growth just a
little more than a year after it was established. Before long,
most of its businesses closed and its residents again moved on.
But, Hornsilver was not yet destined to die, as
mining operations resumed again in 1915. However, it must not have
done very well as Charles Stoneham, of the New York Giants baseball team,
purchased the Great Western mine in 1922 at a receiver’s sale.
In 1927, a miner by the name of J.W.
Dunfee went down the mine and made an even better discovery – gold! Within a few years, more gold than silver was being mined and the town’s
name was changed to Gold Point. It was after this discovery that Gold
Point enjoyed its longest
period of success, at a time that the rest of America was suffering from
The Gold Dust in Gold Point,
image available for photographic prints
However, when World War II
began, mining resources were severely restricted to those mines extracting
strategic metals. This resulted in gold mining efforts coming to a
standstill in Gold Point and once again most of its residents drifted away
or went off to war.
After the war, mining resumed on a smaller scale
and continued until the 1960s until a cave-in occurred from a dynamite blast
at the Dunfee Shaft. More expensive to fix, than the quantity and
value of ore extracted would pay, the mine was closed. Other than a
few small leases and diggings, this was the last serious mining operation at
After the closing of the Great Western Mine, the town
officially became a "ghost"
but was watched over by a long time resident named Ora May Wiley and the few
Ora came to
around 1930 and married Harry Wiley, one of the founding fathers of
Hornsilver. Staying until her death, at the age of 83 in 1980, Ora
ran the Post Office from 1940 until 1967. The couple also operated a
general store and Standard Gas Station. Harry Wiley served on the
Esmeralda County Board of Supervisors from 1940 until he was elected to the
State Senate in 1946, where he served until his death in office in 1955.
In 1967, the post office closed forever, but now stands as a testament to
this once flourishing town, seemingly frozen in time.
Today, the town is
called home to only about a dozen residents, who have privately restored
and preserved the town. Spearheaded by a man named Herb Robbins,
who moved to
Gold Point in his mid twenties, the old town has seen many needed
repairs and improvements, all of which are due to the hard work of its
few residents, friends and supporters.
Many of the cabins in the town appear as
they did nearly one hundred years ago and are sometimes rented out in a
bed and breakfast fashion. The centerpiece of
is its 110 foot long saloon, lined with historical artifacts on the
outside, and boasting a Player Piano and shuffle board on the inside. The saloon, along with the post office and several other restored
buildings line its tiny historic main street.
On Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day
Gold Point "opens its doors” to welcome hundreds of people for
festive weekends including all kinds of food and activities. Herb
Robbins portrays "Sheriff Stone” on these weekends entertaining the many
guests and corralling the rowdies.
has also become a popular place for weddings as Sheriff Stone and his
girlfriend Sandy, really put on a great ceremony. Sandy is a licensed
Minister who can legally conduct a weddings in
Restoration, ongoing since the late 1970s continues in this old
settlement and two museums are available to the public on most weekends.
When you visit, keep in
mind that the entire town is privately owned and though you may not see its
few residents, rest assured that they watch over their property, keeping a
close eye on visitors to ensure that its many artifacts remain exactly where
During its heyday,
produced more than a million dollars in gold and silver, with the Great
Western Mine extracting more than $500,000 in gold.
is about 40 miles southwest of Goldfield off of highway 95.
Turn west onto NV 266, then south onto Lida Road to arrive at Gold Point.
Abandoned mining operations dot the hills
April, 2005, Kathy Weiser.
of America, updated July, 2015.
Gold Point Ghost Town
HC 71 Box 30
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Main Street, April, 2005, Kathy Weiser.
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