Rhyolite, Nevada Bottle Building
In 1906, in the old ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada a saloon owner named Tom Kelly, built a house out of bottles because lumber was scarce at the time. Reportedly he used some 50,000 beer, whiskey, soda, and medicine bottles to build the structure which still stands today. Mr. Kelley was 76 years old when he built the house and it took him almost six months to complete.
The bottle house was restored and re-roofed by Paramount Pictures in 1925 for a movie set. Afterward, it was given to the Beatty Improvement Association for maintenance as a historical site.
It was leased to Louis J. Murphy and maintained as a museum by him and a woman named Bessie Stratton Moffat until he died in 1956. Later, Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Thompson also lived in it, maintaining a museum and a relic shop.
Tommy was a musician who played his accordion in the saloons of Rhyolite when it was a boomtown. When the Thompsons died, their son, Evan Thompson maintained it for a while. He was the last known person to live in the house; but now resides in Pioneer, Nevada.
Next to the bottle house is a “garden” of sculptures made of broken glass including miniature houses, bottle ropes, and a whole bunch more glass junk, er… treasures.
The bottle house isn’t the only quirky thing in Rhyolite. You’ll also see the Goldwell Open Air Museum.
Goldwell Open Air Museum
As you near the old townsite of Rhyolite, you will see what is called the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Here, a group of Belgian artists created seven large-scale outdoor sculptures in the midst of the Mojave desert, the most impressive of which is a ghostly interpretation of the “Last Supper.” There is also a 25-foot high pink woman made of cinder blocks, a 24-foot high steel prospector accompanied by a penguin, a blossoming tangle of gleaming chrome car parts; and an exquisitely carved winged woman reaching for the sun from high atop a wooden pillar.
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This may be the most delicious attraction in Las Vegas, not to mention one of the most popular.
Located in the Showcase Mall, the mouth-watering exhibit features a multitude of life-size M&M’s hawking everything from t-shirts to scores of the popular candy in every color under the rainbow plus silver and gold.
A tour of the entire site is available ending with a 3-D movie featuring Red and Yellow’s trip to Vegas. When Red loses his “M” at the poker table, the two take a journey to the land of the lost to retrieve it. Viewers are rewarded with a surprise treat upon their exit.
The attraction adds its own gaudy sign to the Strip — a 3D 40-foot long M&M’s bag shaking out candy. Three M&M’s characters, 15 to 19 feet tall, entice Strip denizens to come inside. One see-thru wall of a second-floor store is filled from floor to ceiling with… M&M’s.
Hours are 9 am-11 pm, Sunday-Thursday and 9 am-12 am Friday-Saturday
3785 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2021.