Esmeralda County

Freedom in the Desert Air

The Markers Statistics

"Gold! Gold in Rivers of Fame and Fortune!"

In 1900, the name "Esmeralda" was born! In fact, "Esmeralda" owned newspapers nationwide with catchy one-liners that prompted fortune seekers from every corner of the nation to a little town named Goldfield. The chapter known as "Esmeralda" proved that "gold fever" was incurable and some claim, still incurable today. History does not deny the lasting legacy of this unassuming piece of Nevada ground, when in fact, much is left to be told. Many people traveling the long pavement of US 95 attempt a fathom or two as to how Goldfield, now a tiny town of about six hundred (residents, not rattlesnakes) was once Nevada's largest and most properous city of over twenty thousand!

Grandpa to Goldfield
At the turn of the century, a tough economy loomed over the nation and Nevada was destined for bankruptcy. Even talk of relinquishing Nevada's statehood became common talk and some say if it wasn't for Goldfield, the state of Nevada would have died a century ago. Others say it's nothing more than romantic fairy tales. The affluent gold veins that lie beneath the streets of Goldfield carried Nevada over into the 1930s - valueing "Grandpa" (named for the "Grandfather of all mining camps") as one of the state's last true mining towns.

"Grandpa" had enough wealth to shadow every district statewide even equalling or surpassing districts around the world and it wasted no time in showing off its great fortune. Residents furnished their courthouse with twentieth-century Tiffany lamps and its hotel with Persian tapestries. Some say, Goldfield had so much wealth that miners could "throw it at the birds." Low grade ore, or "scrap," was used to pave the streets today's residents regularly use. By 1901, the first automobiles hummed down Crook Street and it didn't take long for the rest of America to find out about the wealth showering Goldfield. Boxing, thought to be a brutal and debatable sport in those days, found a new venue in Goldfield. Promoters such as "Tex" Rickard put Goldfield on the map by hosting the largest (at the time) championship boxing match in history. The Gans Nelson Fight, which took place on the corner of Crook and Columbia Streets in 1903, brought in over twenty thousand spectators. An entire city block to was cordoned off to make room for the match. Goldfield was a place where every face of every race looked to for one last chance to strike it rich. Goldfield was well on its way.

The hype of Goldfield's boom did not lie in the persistence of its miners. Unlike Virginia City, Goldfield was not run by "kings," or mining corporations. Everybody had their own stake in the wealth. Average families, shop owners, boxing promoters, hotel workers, or whoever you were had at least some stock in Goldfield's ore. The ore was unearthed the hard way by pick and shovel but was assayed at more than $3,000 per ton - an overwhelming sum that while prized quality lacked in quantity. And hence, Goldfield's dent in its otherwise sharp and shiny future was too noticeable to ignore. Assayers and mine superintendants gravely miscalculated the ore's location and concluded that the prized rock was just too far from the surface to be viable in profit. Unlike Virginia City, Goldfield didn't have thousands of miners to rake the earth. A solitary pick axe and shovel were not enough to penetrate the earth for more of the shiny rock. By 1910, Goldfield was a shadow of its former self and its population did not up and run. Most people stayed behind and the population dwindled slowly over time and like many of Nevada's mining camps, Goldfield was reluctant to settle for defeat. Today, the town sits proudly under the desert sun as a testament to old fortunes with a never-say-die attitude. Almost every one of its resident knows of the great value beneath the soil town and many mining companies have tried to purchase Goldfield outright. The locals know better. Sometimes wealth isn't everything. Everybody knows the old cliche: Home is where you hang your hat.

The Markers
Essy is a haven for the inner desert rat. All of her markers are not only greatly spaced apart, but they can all be attained within a day's drive ... but to get from "here and there" takes a long time. As for Goldfield itself, the old mining king doesn't offer much in the way of services. Its residents are a resilient lot. Goldfield harbors little more than a locally-owned motel and a general store with a few seasonal gas pumps. If Goldfieldians want more "action" they make the twenty-minute drive to "the city:" Tonopah, Central Nevada's hub of activity - and a fine base jump for you! The state's repititious boom-to-bust legacy in all triteness still whispers to those visit the land of remote and haunting landscape known as "Esmeralda."

Markers of Esmeralda County

Coasting through the long and lonely vastness of Essy County is something of the wonderful for any desert rat. Although Goldfield may be the nucleus of Esmeralda, only two markers are located here so you'll be spending most of your time getting acquainted with the county's other outposts. Towns such as Silver Peak and Gold Point smear the impression of stubbornness and willingness to survive. The county's charm is in its past!

[14] -- Goldfield

37.70757, -117.23345

"For a 20-year period prior to 1900 the mining in Nevada fell into a slump that cast the entire state into a bleak depression and caused the loss of one-third of the population."

[20] -- Columbus

38.14959, -117.94723

"The full importance of Columbus was not recognized until 1871, when William Troop discovered borax in the locality."

[101] -- Millers

38.14024, -117.45391

"As a result of the mining excitement at Tonopah in 1901 and subsequent construction of the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad, Miller's was founded in 1904 as a station and watering stop on that line."

[133] -- Fish Lake Valley

37.69395, -118.09014

"This valley was settled when the Palmetto Mining District was discovered in 1866. In the 1870's, the Griffing & Nyman's, as well as the Pacific Borax Works, were extracting borax at Fish Lake."

[155] -- Silver Peak (Discovered in 1863)

38.0184, -117.77614

"Silver Peak is one of the oldest mining areas in Nevada. A 10-stamp mill was built in 1865, and by 1867 a 20-stamp mill was built."

[156] -- Gold Point

37.43757, -117.28527

"Gold Point was initially called Lime Point for the nearby lime deposits found in 1868."

[157] -- Lida

37.45555, -117.4993

"Lida revived and thrived for three years during the Goldfield boom but declined again in 1907. Mining efforts resumed a few years later, and a small community existed here until World War I."

[158] -- Palmetto

37.4443, -117.69524

"Thinking that local joshua trees were related to palm trees, the 1866 prospectors named the mining camp Palmetto. The town "died" and revived three times."

[174] -- Blair (Discovered by Accident)

37.78107, -117.63486

"William H. Boyd was granted a Utah Territory Franchise December 19, 1861, to provide a road to join Genoa to the Cradlebaugh Toll Road, the trunkline to the mining district of Esmeralda."

[242] -- Southern Nevada Consolidated Telephone-Telegraph Company Building

37.70935, -117.23552

"Having four railroads and other modern conveniences, the building was one of a few spared by a fire that destroyed 53 blocks of the downtown area in 1923."