2009 Nevada-Mojave Trip


Part Four: still more ghost town adventures!

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Tybo, NV

My next stop was the ghost town of Tybo, NV. I arrived after dark and spent the night camped near a small mine farther up the canyon.

The town peaked in the 1870’s, with a population of about 1000. By 1881 the mines played out and the residents drifted away. Some new mining activity took place sporadically over the years, with the last significant work ending the 1940’s.

The town has at least one full time resident who acts as caretaker to prevent vandalism and theft, and some area are posted against trespassing.

I especially liked the G-2 Mine (right). It is mostly intact, including a diesel-powered hoist. The hoist house is set into a notch in the cliff. For a large mine it is pretty compact and would be a good subject for a model.

Below: Stone ruins at Warm Springs, NV.

Warm Springs, NV

From Tybo, I continued south until I reached Highway 6, then turned west toward Tonopah. Along the way I stopped at Warm Springs, NV.

With its abundant water, Warm Springs was an important way station for weary pioneers. But it never developed beyond a small settlement, and eventually withered away.

There are several small structures from early times, and a few more recent buildings. Even these have been empty for decades. A stream of hot mineral water flows through a trench from the springs down to a ranch across the highway.

Some of the water feeds a small, stone swimming pool. Unfortunately this is fenced and off-limits.

Above: A herd of bighorn sheep seen near Warm Springs, NV.

Tonopah, NV

Any trip in the western half of the state has to include a visit to Tonopah, NV. Tonopah is the only large-ish town between Las Vegas and Reno, so it’s the place to stop for gas and supplies! But it’s also a great historic site, with lots of old buildings, ruins, and mining structures. Last year I explored some of the back streets on the west side of town. This year I explored some of the east side of town and saw even more cool stuff.

Upper right: Horse-drawn ore wagon.

Lower right: Ore car

Below: Lift from a vertical shaft mine.

Right: The Belvada Hotel in “downtown” Tonopah, NV.

Below: This old wooden house really caught my eye. It has interesting angles and features. A model of this building would be a great addition to my In-ko-pah Railroad.

Left: The texture of the weathered wood on this old house in Tonopah is fantastic.

Goldfield, NV

About 25 miles south of Tonopah is another “must see” town, Goldfield, NV. I photographed some more historic buildings and ruins there this year, including the cool dilapidated house pictured below.

A new addition to Goldfield’s main street is a mockup of a small locomotive. At first glance I thought it was the real thing. Closer inspection revealed it to be fake, made of plywood, sheet metal, pipes, and a few genuine train parts.

Above left: The Tex Rickard house in Goldfield, NV.                     Above right: Mock locomotive in Goldfield, NV.

Goldfield Railroad Equipment

Goldfield does have some real railroad equipment. Someone has been collecting it at the site of the old Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad freight depot, apparently with the intention of starting a museum. Since the last time I was there, they’ve added a rusting 0-6-0T steam locomotive.

The steam and sand domes were laying nearby, and the cab is missing.

I wonder if they plan to restore it to operating condition?

Carrara, NV and nearby ruins

The town of Carrara was built to quarry marble from the hills south of Beatty, NV. It was named for the famous marble producing area of Italy. Unfortunately the marble here turned out to be too fragmented to be profitable.

Left: The Gold Ace Mine, a couple miles north of Carrara.

Below: Foundations of the milling and cutting plant at Carrara.

Death Valley Junction, CA

I crossed the state line into California late in the day, arriving in Death Valley Junction shortly before sunset.

Originally name “Amargosa”, this town was a watering stop on the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad. Later the Death Valley Railroad was built here to transport borax from the mines, to the T&T RR.

There are a few railroad structures and several old buildings here, some in use and others decaying. The building that is now the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House was originally built by the borax company. In the 1960’s it was taken over by Marta Beckett, an eccentric dancer and artist.

Left: An owl perches on the roof of an old building in Death Valley Junction, CA.

Below: The last night of the trip was spent at the south end of the Providence Mountains, near Arrowhead Spring, in the Mojave desert.

Amboy, CA  

As I headed home, my last stop for this trip was the Mojave desert town of Amboy, CA. This tiny hamlet on Route 66 is famous for Roy’s Diner, with its iconic 50’s era sign. The sign, and the diner, have been featured in several movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

In addition to the diner, there are several other buildings, most of them boarded up like the motel and the high school. There are also some decaying, abandoned homes and other small structures. A small, rusty chemical plant processes chlorides from nearby Bristol Dry Lake. Frequent freight trains rumble through on the BNSF mainline. (Video!)

That’s all for this year’s trip! Thanks for reading along, I hope you enjoyed the journey!

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