Olie and Kelly's Cross Country Road Trip! travel blog

Bottle House, Rhyolite Ghost Town, NV

Old building of Rhyolite, NV

Bank, Rhyolite, NV

I don't think anyones home, Olie!

The heat...ahh...Roadside Art Museum, NV

Roadside Art Museum, NV

What a crazy day! Temperatures reached 100 degrees, no wind or cloud in sight. Aside from the amazing landscape, Death Valley is known for its' ghost towns. So, we headed to Rhyolite just outside Death Valley in Nevada. It's the largest ghost town in Death Valley. We drove over the eastern ridges of Death Valley into the flatter land of Nevada.

Rhyolite was founded on a miner finding a chunk of gold in the hills worth $600. Investors had big dreams of success and found only sand and dept. At one point the town boasted 10,000 people from its highlight in 1905-1911. It had two churches, 50 saloons, 18 stores, two undertakers, two newspapers, 19 hotels, eight doctors, a stock exchange, and even an opera. As we approached, all we saw were skeletons of buildings long past and debris. Our first stop was the bottle house made of 50,000 glass bottles preserved by Paramount in the 1920's for the purpose of a movie. Very odd yet it seemed to fit the atmosphere. There were the remains of a train depot, a three story bank building, a brothel, the jail, a mining hole, and a few other structures. We had a lot of fun taking pictures yet the thought of a once was town surrounded us accompanied by the eerie sound of tin shingles hitting hollow buildings and rusted tin cans rolling across the desert. Well preserved as it was, one could almost picture bustling streets and hear voices on the breeze. What would cause such a large town to go extinct...lack of money and promises of more money in other places. One by one, the residents of Rhyolite left for richer ground until there was nothing left but an echo deep in the mines they dug.

Just when we thought we couldn't beat the strangeness of the ghost town, we did. On the way back from Rhyolite, we stopped at a drive up roadside art museum inspired by the art of Albert Szukalshi. There were 8 large sculptures and each one was odder then the next. We laughed and had fun making use of the art with posses for photos. Everything from an enormous naked lego woman to an creepy rendition of the last supper. Just when you think things couldn't get any stranger, they do in the desert. I think some people don't take the desert heat as well as others.

As a side note about Death Valley's history...many people braved the harsh elements in search of fortune. Risking their lives hoping the next swing of their pick would be the big find they had dreamed about. People from all over the country flocked to Death Valley with hopes of finding gold, silver, copper, and lead. Yet, of all the precious metals found, none surpassed the monetary value made by Borax in desert. The Harmony Borax Works farmed Borax out of the land, processed it, and shipped all over the country. Of all the profitable "finds" in Death Valley, the mining and processing of Borax made the most money. Soap...who knew.

Today was a walk down someones memory lane and personal window into a life I could never imagine. The desert is such a strange and beautiful place.

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