A stay at a bona fide Wild West ghost town could be just the thing to beat those 21st century blues! Gold Point in Nevada has been around in some form or another since the late 19th century.
They used to mine precious metals here. Now they offer bed, breakfast and more besides for the ultimate old school experience.
Guests can lay their heads in one of the Gold Point Cabins, where the outsides are rickety and the insides are charming and – above all – comfortable. Generally food is served up by the owners and there is an historic upgrade available care of Senator Harry Wiley’s former home, featuring such mod cons as a bath and microwave.
Esmerelda County, where the town is located, rubs geographical shoulders with Death Valley. Those who want to get closer to nature can bring a tent.
Which is appropriate, as that’s how the Wild West community got started in the first place. An outcropping of limestone several hundred yards from where Gold Point was erected attracted a variety of silver-seeking campers. The location was dubbed Lime Point in the late 1860s.
A decade or so on, and the place began to take shape. This was no overnight success. Subsequent name Hornsilver didn’t get thought up till 1902. Tents were replaced by structures only gradually. Why was this…?
The town was potentially profitable, but not the easiest of places to reach. As Gold Point’s website describes, “The railroad never puffed smoke any closer than 15 miles to the east at Ralston.” Freight costs were high. Plus silver ore could be extracted from the mine, but it had to be milled. For that water was needed, something that didn’t flow through Esmerelda County. Even today guests don’t have access to it. The site notes water was “only a day’s ride by horse and wagon, in Lida Valley, 12 miles northwest.”
The recent population of Gold Point comprises 12 souls, 6 of those classified as part timers. Back in its heyday, the town hosted 1,000 people looking for their slice of the gold-plated pie. Apparently there were “over 225 wood-framed buildings, tents and shacks throughout the town site.”
A post office opened its doors and eventually a local newspaper delivered information hot off the press – the Hornsilver Herald, est 1908. The town also ”included 13 saloons to keep the miners amply supplied with liquid libations.”
They may have needed those as time went on. Further drama ensued when mining operations ground to a halt through legal action. The nefarious practice of claim jumping made a mockery of honest workers staking land and its gold as their own. Lawyers were involved to handle litigation and the dark tunnels soon went quiet.
The town had its own celebrity in the form of Charles Stoneham, owner of the New York Giants. He bought up Hornsilver’s Great Western Mine operation in 1922. In 1927 Hornsilver became Gold Point, following the discovery of the king of metals in the area.
The town was later overtaken by world events, when the Second World War focused national resources on things the country actually needed in a time of crisis. Gold Point then had its own emergency in the Sixties after dynamite accidentally caved in the ceiling. Things wrapped up from there, with the business not deemed profitable enough to continue.
Ora Mae Wiley, wife of Senator Harry, took on the role of unofficial custodian, keeping the community going during the lean years. And then visiting brothers Herb and Chuck Robbins, together with pal Walt Kremin, took a shine to the place in the Seventies.
Messy Nessy Chic writes,“Together, they purchased the old Post Office, the (still furnished!) house of Senator Harry Wiley, the General Store, and a few ramshackle houses.” They weren’t flush enough to snap up the whole town. Still, hailing from America’s so-called “city of sin” has its advantages. As the site adds, “Not long after, Herb hit a mega jackpot in Las Vegas, bought up the rest of the town, and declared himself the local Sheriff.”
From there, Gold Point developed into the unique tourist attraction and accommodation which makes headlines today. Guests have the option of renting a cabin, or the whole kit and caboodle if the price is right. In fact it was used as a movie location back in 2012.
The main aim behind Gold Point these days is to keep the flame of history alive. Just as miners would stake a claim to the local gold, the town’s current owners have a strong sense of property rights. You can book your stay here.
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Their website gently reminds folk: “Remember when visiting Gold Point, that all of the buildings, regardless of condition, and the artifacts, even the ones left scattered around and in the cactus and sagebrush, DO BELONG TO SOMEONE.”