First it was the rivers and civilization began to flourish around the banks. Then came the railroads and new townships blossomed near the tracks. Then it was the lure of gold and untold riches that lured the faithful to build an organic hub of activity far away from rivers and deep in terrains that were rough and hostile. Sometimes dreams die young- Silicon valley startup boom and bust?
Rhyolite one of many ghost towns, not as famous or commercial as Bodie, yet with a history of its own. This was the largest town in the Death Valley and at one time the third largest in Nevada, with a population of over 10,000 during its years of existence between 1905-1911. At its peak the town boasted of 53 saloons, 18 stores, 19 lodging houses,8 doctors, two dentists , a stock exchange and even an opera! In December 1906 the first train rolled into Rhyolite. There were 3 railroad lines into Rhyolite. By 1917 the town was dying, the rails were pulled out so as to reuse the iron in WW1. In 1930 the depot was sold for 100 Dollars and later resold in 1935 to make way for the “Rhyolite Ghost Casino”. Today this is in a stage of decay!
Cook Bank is the most famous relic. A 3 story 43 foot building this was constructed by Mr Cook and completed by 1908. Mr Cook built a bank with all the trappings of luxury. Marble floors from Italy, mahogany woodwork, electric lights, plumbing and even a working telephone; this one set him back by over $90,000. Soon thereafter the bank was acquired by the First National Bank. The Rhyolite Post Office leased space in the basement of this Bank.
Kelly was a colorful character in Rhyolite. At the ripe age of 76 he decided to build a bottle house! With 53 saloons bottles were not in short supply and he used anything he could lay his hands including medicine bottles which were never in short supply either. For in those days opium was a key ingredient in most medicines! Water being in short supply these bottles found their way unwashed into the bottle house. How many bottles- over 30,000! The inside of the house was plastered. Kelly never lived in this 3 bedroom house. he raffled it for $5 per ticket. The Bennet family won the raffle and the house.
The desert is a rough terrain and as the town decayed people left with everything stripping homes and buildings of wood and everything that could be reused- wood in a desert being as precious as water!
Trucks and cars that had seen better days!
Porter House sold practically everything but liquor. Large glass windows offered a view of everything in the store! The store closed in 1910 four years after it was built
Dreams died young! There was no gold and life was no longer golden!
The saloons and pleasure pens closed and soon this was just another ghost town: