Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ghost town

This afternoon we saw a ghost town, Rhyolite, a town that was built around 1904 when gold was discovered in this area. At one time it had 12,000 residents. But it was abandoned by 1919 due to an economic crisis and problems with the mines. "Rhyolite" is apparently the name of the mineral in which the gold was found. There was another town built at the same time, called Bull Frog, but apparently there is nothing left of that town.

In Rhyolite, there was an old train depot, a house made out of bottles, and an old general store. There were ruins of 2 banks and some other structures. We also found an old cemetery down an old gravel road. It was really interesting. Most of the graves in the cemetery were unmarked or marked in a very primitive way (like a makeshift cross or a piece of old wood in the shape of a headstone). It seemed that many of the people there were buried long after the town had been abandoned. They probably grew up there and wanted to be buried there. It makes you wonder what it's like to live long enough to see your entire town completely disappear.

Here is a photo of the general store and bottle house:

From the cemetery:

After that, we headed back and looked at food options. There was the Sourdough Saloon, the Mexican-American Restaurant, and "Rita's," inside a casino. AAA recommended Rita's, so we went there. We had to walk through a very smokey casino, where there were a few people playing slot machines. The restaurant was unremarkable.

After dinner, we drove back out to the road to Rhyolite to look at the stars. There are no lights anywhere and we could see the Milky Way and about a thousand stars. I saw the entire Orion constellation, and I think I found the Big Dipper and the Seven Sisters. I wish I knew the other constellations.

Tomorrow we'll see Death Valley. Here's a preview (we drove a few miles into the park this afternoon):

Then we'll head back to Las Vegas, which we'll explore until we go back to Boston on Sunday morning.

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