So why on earth is there a Nevada ghost town on a California Gold Rush site? Because Rhyolite was the queen of Death Valley’s gold boom. The town was the gateway to many California gold mining operations like Chloride City, Skidoo, Harrisburg and Keane.
Shorty Harris of Harrisburg fame first came to the area in 1904. Shorty found gold laden quartz lying all over the area, known as bullfrog rock. The area soon had 2000 claims within 30 miles.
It had a three story building, a stock exchange and the red light district drew women from as far away as San Francisco. Hotels, stores, schools, two electric plants, foundries and a hospital.
In early 1907 the town was lit with electricity. Later in the year an electric powered mill was built at the Montgomery Shoshone mine. 300 tons a day were crushed producing $10,000 a day in gold. The financial panic over the next few years were hard on the town. By 1910 only a few hundred residents remained. The Shoshone mine was closed in 1911 and the electricity to the town was shut down in 1916.
All that remains now are the ruins of the 3 story bank, the jail, the privately owned rail depot and a restored “bottle house”.