Things you find in the desert and more

Posted by | Filed under Nevada | Jan 26, 2011 | 6 Comments

As promised in my last post this one is about my travels, mostly.
I had to go back to Las Vegas to get my camper re-fixed. The first repair job had a couple of flaws that needed to be fixed.
From Tonopah I headed south on highway 95 to Beatty. Once again, it’s a big state with a very sparse population.


My first stop was Goldfield, one of the old mining towns of yesteryears. The town once boasted a population of 15,000, now there are only 350 left, that’s half of the entire county population. Goldfield is the county seat for Esmeralda County. Never sure which homes are lived in and which are completely abandoned.

Downtown Goldfield

Goldfield is home to a great county courthouse and that’s about it. Efforts are being made to restore the old 1920 high school, a great brick building.

My camper 40 years ago?

Another great building is the now empty Goldfield Hotel. Most other buildings, commercial or private, are in bad shape. I am always surprised to see how little respect people have for their own property.

Dilapidated home and trailer

Junk everywhere in the front and back yards. This disrespect is unfortunately also found in nature where people leave all sorts of garbage behind, no matter how remote. Trailers and mobile homes are a constant in these communities and most look like they have not been fixed or taken care of in the last twenty

Dresser and radio

years. I am currently staying at a mobile home & trailer community and let me tell you, there are no homes in disrepair here.
I spent an hour walking around and taking pictures before I continued my drive.


As you might know prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada and you might also have heard about brothels. I had been wondering where those brothels might be, not that I wanted to frequent one. Then there it was, a big sign along side the road in the middle of absolutely nowhere advertising the brothel a couple of hundred yards off the highway; nothing fancy, just a mobile home or two. I “ran” into another one further south near Beatty.
One of the reasons I headed for Beatty was the “ghost town” of Rhyolite.

Rhyolite school

I had been told about it back in November when I visited Death Valley (another story I need to tell) and then again by friends here in Overton. Ghost town seems way too fancy for most of these places. Often there is not more than the foundation of a handful of buildings left. Rhyolite is a bit different and in many ways the same. Someone actually made the effort to supply some information about the remaining ruins and there are even photos of what this place looked like back in the 1930s.

Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot

The town once housed 8,000 people, but all that’s left are ruins of half a dozen or so commercial buildings and just one or two residences. People lived here up to the 1950s! The only structure with a roof is the Las Vegas & Tonopah train depot which has been fenced in to keep vandals out. Most of the buildings used to have two or three floors, but none of those remained. The marble floors somehow disappeared into thin air. People have etched their names into the plaster of the remaining walls. That’s what is called “Protect your history”.

The Last Super by Albert Szukalski

Next to the “official” ghost towns there are the strange things you can find in the desert. Right next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum, home to some interesting art projects.

Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by DR. Hugo Heyrman and Sit Here! by Sofie Siegmann

A few miles away you can find the remains of a cement company that never went into production. You won’t know this thanks to some signs, you have to actually research it on the internet.

Ruins of the 1930 Elizalde Cement Company

Crucified Jesus, near Beatty

More ruins

Maps can be misleading, better to always have a full tank of gas and food. I have seen plenty of times dots and names on the map just to find some empty buildings or just a collection of mobile homes without any stores of any kind in sight. I have been lucky so far, I only almost ran out of gas twice. You would think I’d learn (again, another story).
As I said, I had to go back to Vegas. Good thing I only had to stay for tow nights, one in my camper and one in a hotel. I made the best of my stay and visited Red Rock Canyon just to the west of Vegas. Beautiful place, great sandstone formations and a total contrast to Sin City. For my taste already too many people. Since I am always grocery store deprived I was very happy to find a Whole Foods store where I could stock up on some good cheese and other stuff.
From Vegas my trip went even further south, yes there is life south of Las Vegas, not much but some. Destination Searchlight, one of those dots on the map, but with two RV parks. I “mistakenly” ended up at the Cottonwood Cove RV park on the banks of the Colorado River, Lake Mohave more precisely; beautiful, quiet setting. I just wanted to check out the town before I settle in and found myself on the road to the river. The road was twelve miles long and it was going down hill for the most part. I knew it would take me a long time to drive back to the main highway and across the street to my “preferred” RV park. By then it would be dark. I had no choice but to settle for a place by the water. It did take me half an hour the next day to drive the twelve miles uphill.

Pioneer Hotel and Casino, Laughlin - holding on to the Old West

I left my camper at the RV park and headed to Laughlin, big casino town along the Colorado River. I crossed the river into Arizona and checked out Bullhead City. Not much happening there either. Got some cheap gas and had my truck washed and headed back to Searchlight.
Last stop on my circle tour: Boulder City, home to Hoover Dam. I am not a fan of tourist attractions, too many people. The dam is impressive.

Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge (Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge)

There is also a new bridge that crosses the Colorado River just south of the dam. I walked across the bridge and got a nice view of Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, you can’t admire the impressive bridge span from this vantage point. The dam is all concrete, enough to build a 16’ wide 8” thick highway from New York City to San Francisco. I also walked across the dam, lots of people. There are two towers on the dam that house public restrooms great 1930s Art Deco exterior doors, reminded me of the Chrysler building in NYC.

Hoover Dam sculptures by Oskar J.W. Hansen

There were also two bronze sculptures that reminded me more of 1938 Germany.
I liked Boulder City. What I first noticed was how clean it was, sad sign.
On my way to Boulder City I stopped by (ten miles on a dirt road with the camper) one more ghost town. I think this was the last one for me. A handful of

Nelson front yard

people live in Nelson and everything is marked with “No Trespassing” signs.
Back home to Overton via the very scenic Northshore Road.

Northshore Road

At this point I have a bit of desert and ghost town fatigue. I’ll be leaving Overton soon, heading towards Arizona, another desert state :(.

Just a few facts:
My “little” circle 13 day tour of Southern Nevada: 1,300 miles
Total miles driven since I left New York last March: 25,000 – I slowed down since November.
Gallons of gas pumped: 2,100 – I wish I’d get better mileage
Will I be back in April? No.

6 Responses to “Things you find in the desert and more”

  • Lew Mann says:

    I found this story via Google alerts. I enjoyed reading your comments and viewing the photos. The photos are excellent. I only with we could enlarge them.

    I write a monthly eNewsletter for my RV dealership. I am linking to this story in the February issue. Watch for it when you visit

    I’ll bookmark this site and look forward to more of your writings.

    Lew Mann
    Internet Manager and “Doer of Many Things”
    J.D. Sanders RV Center
    Alachua, FL


  • Jicky says:

    Hello Lew,
    thank you for the mentioning in your newsletter. I’ll make sure to check it out.
    Sorry about the photos. I am very protective of my work and don’t want to encourage free usage. I am selling my photos, once I figure out how to add a selling function to my blog.


  • Brighid says:

    Howdy, Jicky! It’s good having you here in our little slice of the Earth, Overton. Please, by all means, continue to share your travels with us. We’ll definitely miss you once you do go.


  • Jicky says:

    Hi Brighid,
    I’ll miss this place and all the nice people I met here.


  • Carol FOELL says:

    Hi Jicky
    Wow, You certainly have been “there”
    Everywhere, it seems
    So Glad You’re enjoying Yourself
    The pictures are GREAT !!!!
    I suppose You don’t miss shoveling this snow, either . . . .


  • Jicky says:

    Hi Carol,
    thanks and no, I don’t miss the snow. Stay warm and good shoveling.