Building Rhyolite

The Story of Rhyolite as told by the people who helped to build it.

View of Rhyolite, Nevada showing the Overbury Building, 1920s
The buildings of Rhyolite
  • “Citizens of Rhyolite viewed it as the hope of Nevada, a metropolitan with a good school and all the conveniences of polite society." [1]  Local boosters went to a handful of men at old Bonanza town site, a mile down the gulch, and induced the bunch to move up en masse. Men on foot, burros, mule teams, freights, light rigs, saddle outfits, automobiles, houses on wheels- all coming down the line from Tonopah and Goldfield raising a “string of dust a 100 miles long”. [2] 

  • “The town was built in a hurry, but not as quickly as might be judged by descriptions on paper, patience, planning and waiting, long tiresome overland hauling and huge capital expenditures were put into its building.” [3]

  • “Its civic services were financed by licensed prostitution” [4]

  •  “Rhyolite was the important camp” Surface ores were richer than the surface ores at Goldfield.”
  • “If there were no mines, there could be no city. There was nothing else to support it.”

  • “High prices for materials, labor, rentals and necessities of life were forgotten in the urgent demand for everything purchasable. Money was easy. It came easily and thus it went, until one day the people awakened to the fact that the climax of the boom had been reached. The inevitable happened.”[4]

  • “In 1909 Talk of lessening of production and of ore viens petering out were circulated via grapevine system and wise or faint hearted folks began leaving just 4 years after Rhyolite began.” [5]


Before the depression and in spite of the petering out process, Rhyolite’s record of shipments of ore would seem to justify the opinion of Bob Montgomery, Wi. M. Stewart and Schwab who invested heavily to express belief Rhyolite would be permanent. [6]

[1] Betsy Ritter, Life in the Ghost City of Rhyolite, Nevada. (Terra Bella News, Terra Bella CA Sagebrush Press; 1939) 5. 
[2] Harold and Lucile Weight Rhyolite: Death Valley’s Ghost City of Golden Dreams. (Calico Press, 29 Palms Arizona 1953) 15.
[3] Ritter, Life in the Ghost City. 5.
[4] Richard E. Lingenfelter, Death Valley and the Armogosa: A Land of Illusion (University of California Press, Berkeley 1986). 219.
[4] Weight. Rhyolite: Death Valley's Ghost City. 6-7; 16.
[5] Ritter, Life in the Ghost City. 11.
[6] Ritter, Life in the Ghost City. 7.