The Historic Remains in Nevada’s Goldfield Ghost Town

March 4, 2021By Amy

Directions to Goldfield

From Las Vegas, take I-95 north directly to Goldfield.

From Reno, NV, take I-80 E, NV-439 S until I-95 south to Goldfield.

The Rise and Fall of Goldfield

Located in Esmeralda County, Nevada is the town of Goldfield. As described by the name, Goldfield was created due to the mining of gold nearby. The mineral was first discovered in 1902 and the mines quickly were producing large amounts of ore - as much as $15 million at the time. As expected, population rapidly boomed and soon it was the largest town in the state of Nevada with a population of about 20,000 at its peak.

Like many towns built around mining operations, the population dwindled just as fast as it grew. By 1919 the largest mining operation ceased operations and moved on. Furthering the population's waning was a fire in 1923 caused by a moonshine still that destroyed much of the town. Some of the more famous buildings today survived the catastrophe including the Goldfield Hotel and high school.

Streetside view of the historic Goldfield Hotel

Notable Figures in Goldfield History

Some famous names even have ties to Goldfield. Both Virgil and Wyatt Earp were once residents of the town. Virgil and his wife followed in the footsteps of brother Wyatt who sent word about the gold mining in the state. Arriving in 1904, Virgil found the town a full fledged boom town with little opportunities to make money. He first started gambling and then was an officer watching over the high stakes tables for income. In 1905 he was sworn in and served as deputy sheriff of Goldfield. His term was short, however, as he died of pneumonia later the same year and Wyatt left town soon after.

It is also rumored that Samuel Clemens (perhaps best known as Mark Twain) roamed the Nevada area seeking fortune in mining before turning to writing.

Crumbling remains of wooden home

Touring Goldfield Today

Historical buildings in the town are easy to spot as they have plaques. When touring the town be sure to stop by the visitor center or go online for a map and description of each site. The booklets provide a bit of history on each location including the date of the building as well as what purpose it served in its day.

Fire station and Courthouse stone buildings

Some of the more notable buildings one will encounter in town are the stone buildings that date back to 1907-1908. The stone material likely is responsible for their survival during the 1923 fire which destroyed about 25 blocks of town. Buildings one can visit include the old courthouse and Fire Station #1 which was actively used until 2002.

In addition are the high school and Goldfield Hotel, both of which have had restoration work done to restore the buildings from collapse. The high school was one of several schools in town and was used until 1953 when stability issues arose and the majority of children left in a dwindling population were bussed to Tonopah.

The Goldfield Hotel was likely the most distinguishing building in town, with steam heat, an elevator, running water and 150 guest rooms. The lobby is said to have been decked with gilded columns, crystal chandeliers, leather furniture and at the center a mahogany reception desk. According to reports the hotel cost an estimated $450,000 to build. Currently the hotel has been undergoing renovation and it is reportedly one of the most haunted locations in the state of Nevada having been featured on several ghost hunting television shows.

View down street of corner of Nixon Wingfield Block building

In a similar style to the Goldfield Hotel is The Nixon and Wingfield Block, another impressive three story building. The building was erected by George S. Nixon, a Nevada Senator, and George Wingfield. The two made money in mining forming the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company and established the John S Cook & Co Bank building inside the Nixon Block building. At the time this building would have been quite busy as Nixon and Wingfield built a powerful hold on area mining and business. Due to his wealth, Nixon himself was one of the financiers of the Mizpah Hotel in nearby Tonopah.

Dotted throughout town are other interesting buildings including old garages and gas stations, wooden houses in various states of decay and remnants of saloons.

Plastic skeleton sitting in swing holding aluminum can

Goldfield boasts more than just historic buildings; the town is also home to many art installations. Located in downtown Goldfield is the Goldfield Art Car Park Gallery. Here one can find a number of cars adorned with various found objects from old toys to beads. Just outside town is the International Car Forest where painted cars, vans and buses are stacked or planted in the ground standing upright like an automotive stonehenge of sorts.

All throughout town one can find remnants of the past be it historic buildings, old gas pumps, rusted out vehicles or signs. This old town may have gone decades since being a bustling boom town but it still has many tales to tell for those willing to visit and listen.

Interested in learning more about Goldfield, Nevada? Consider checking out our video, or get directions, pricing info, hours of operation and much more on our information page. Links below.