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Goldfield: The Old West Lives in Nevada’s Best Ghost Town

April 4, 2023
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historical image of goldfield, nevada during its peak boom years

The Great Basin State is the ultimate venue for freedom seekers, big thinkers, artists, and opportunists. By now I’ve been asked what my favorite place is more times than I can count, and the answer? It’ll always be Goldfield.

Through the years, there have been so many badass places in Nevada I’ve been lucky to experience. But that’s the beauty of a place like the Great Basin State—once she gets her hooks in you she digs deep, and you become part of the place. From drifting Corvette ZO6’s around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to summiting Nevada’s five tallest peaks, visiting every last state and national park, tracking down and soaking in most Nevada hot springs, and far beyond, “so, what’s your favorite place you’ve been in Nevada?” is a question I’ve been asked more times than I can count. And to most people’s surprise? It’ll always be Goldfield.

Goldfield, Nevada

Situated along Highway 95 at the near-halfway point between Reno and Las Vegas, Goldfield is that one almost-abandoned town where you have to actually slow down to 25 mph at a sharp, 90-degree curve through town or answer to Esmeralda County’s finest. If I had to guess, people are either in way too big of a hurry to get from A to B to stop and have a look around, are creeped out by Goldfield enough to not keep the skinny pedal down, or believe what they’re seeing is in fact completely abandoned yet off limits to the curious minded. Even I’ll admit that before I really took the time a place like Goldfield deserves, I’d taken what I’d seen out the window of my Tacoma as confirmation that I was too late or too early, with most historic structures decimated by a fire and a flood long ago, and the rest of them in a privately owned off-limits state of decay I couldn’t quite sort out from the highway. 

Old Sideboard Saloon Entrance in Goldfield, NV

But, that all changed one afternoon when I decided to stop and give the Goldfield Cemetery a look, and my love for Nevada led me right to two of my favorite pen pals. When out and about exploring Nevada’s hundreds of old boomtowns, one of my favorite places to begin learning the story of a place is to stop by the cemetery because to me, there’s no truer way to see men and women who lived, worked, and made the place what it became.

Reading each epitaph, row by row, I made my way over toward the two men to see they were there to paint fences, mark graves lost to the elements in Goldfield’s 120 year history, and keep the cemetery in good shape. I learned they were both retired, and that the presidents of the Tonopah AND Goldfield Historical Societies were before me. Seeing I was becoming more invested in the Goldfield story with each passing moment, they both sprung into action and before I knew it, we were dowsing graves one minute, and I was in their pickup with a six pack of beer headed to retrace the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad routes the next. 

Let’s just say the few hours I planned to poke around in Goldfield multiplied into days, and all these years later I’ve learned enough Goldfield history to convince myself I certainly must’ve spent another life there—it’s just that kind of place. From the flashy tales of Virgil and Wyatt Earp, to the place where socialites and prospectors shared the same sidewalk, to the folks living there today just trying to keep the bricks upright, like most places in Nevada, Goldfield is the type of place that deserves more than a glance out the window as you’re passing by. Once you’ve given the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known a chance, you’ll be glad you did.

historical image of goldfield, nevada during its peak boom years
Goldfield, Nevada During its mightiest // UNR Special Collections

History of Goldfield Nevada

The Origin of The Greatest Gold Camp Ever known

Boy, the turn of the 20th century in the West sure would’ve been a wily time to be alive—I think about it all the time as we travel down every old dirt road to Nevada’s deepest darkest corners. During that era, most of the enormous, legendary booms had already happened with thousands of old mining claims staked across Nevada’s Great Basin with a few old greats still booming, others hanging on, and even more yet to be discovered. Virginia City, the site of the Comstock Lode and the world’s (still to this day) largest silver strike had already boomed and busted, along with some of the other great Nevada booms in places like El Dorado Canyon and the Techatticup Mine, Pioche, Austin, Tuscarora, Berlin, Hamilton, Delamar and far too many more bygone boomtowns to count. 

But by the early 1900s just when everyone may have suspected all that was to be discovered was already pried from the Great Basin, another massive silver bounty—the second largest in Nevada history—was unearthed in central Nevada at what would become Tonopah, mighty Queen of the Silver Camps. With thousands upon thousands of people flocking to central Nevada to live and work Nevada’s silver renaissance, it persuaded American Dream-chasing prospectors that there may be more mineral prosperities in this part of the world. And like Tonopah’s initial discovery, a few curious prospectors in nearby Belmont, NV were tipped off about gold south of Tonopah by a local Shoshone man, and set off to see what was out there.

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Turn of the 20th Century Goldfield // UNR Special Collections
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“On a Pleasant Afternoon in Goldfield, Nev.” // UNR Special Collections

With a handful of grubstaked claims made in the middle of a sandstorm, this burgeoning discovery about 30 miles south of Tonopah was first called Grandpa or Gran Pah, which translates to great water in Shoshone, but was also given in this name in hopes it would come to be the granddaddy of all mining camps. This was all in late 1902, and by 1904 its gold bounties were so plentiful the town’s name was quickly changed to Goldfield because what lay before them was just that—an actual field of gold, waiting to be cashed in on. By 1904, this tiny mining camp gained major momentum and transformed from a modest tent city to a world-renowned city, bolstered by four separate mines cranking out a sum of $10,000 in gold ore production every single day.  Matter of fact, Goldfield was one of the first places where highgrading really took off, with gold ore so pure tradesmen were smuggling it out of the mines in their boot heels and ax handles. 

SAGE SECRET: From Gold Point to Gold Hill, too many mining camps with the word “Gold” in its name came on the Silver State scene that it made it an actual nightmare for the postmaster to figure out where mail needed to be routed. By the early 1900s, the postmaster put a stop to this, outlawing that any new mining camp be named anything with the word “Gold” in its name. And while a few mining camps took a couple linguistic liberties, naming their gold-rich ore boomtowns names like Midas after King Midas, or Bullionville, Goldfield was one of the very last towns to slip through before the “Gold” moratorium went into effect for good.

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Tonopah & Goldfield Railroad Depot // UNR Special Collections
northern saloon in goldfield, nevada
The Northern Saloon // Goldfield Historical Society

Even though 1904 was a defining year for Goldfield, the most thrilling boom years transformed the town into the largest city in Nevada from 1905 to 1908. In just a few years, Goldfield’s population swelled to 20,000 people from all walks of life, and the Esmeralda County seat was relocated from Hawthorne to Goldfield. Let me put it to you this way—Goldfield was the place everyone wanted to be in the American West during the turn of the 20th century, attracting everyone from wealthy bankers and businessmen, famous gunslingers (think Wyatt Earp and his brother Virgil) and renowned ladies of the night, blue collar workers hellbent on fortunes but determined to have a good time along the way, and ordinary opportunists aiming to carve out their own piece of paradise. 

Main Street Goldfield with Columbia Mountain in Distance // UNR Special Collections

Remarkably, a lot of historical figures who inspired the names of towns and roads all over Nevada, lived and worked in Tonopah and Goldfield during its boom years, like Tasker Oddie (Oddie Boulevard is named after him in Reno,) John Sparks (cattleman and Nevada Governor Sparks, Nevada was named after,) and most notably, George Wingfield (who was a bit of a villain, but flipped the bill for the Goldfield Hotel. Wingfield Park in Reno is named after him today.) Even Tex Rickard, the man who went on to develop New York’s Madison Square Garden cut his teeth in Goldfield, if you can believe it. Unlike other places in a rowdy, rural West, Goldfield was a place of society and order, ushering in a new, welcomed era by all who lived there. Sin was still big business with a red light district that beckoned overworked men to swingin’ dance halls, lively saloons and of course a warm crib all hours of the day, but the days of people getting shot in the street were becoming more and more distant.

And with wealthy bankers and businessmen and of course the crazy profits coming out of surrounding mines, they didn’t exactly cut corners when it came to building Goldfield—one of the most luxurious mining towns in the West. Some of Nevada’s most iconic institutions were built and remain in Goldfield to this very day, including the Tiffany lamp-outfitted Esmeralda County Courthouse, Goldfield High School, and the Goldfield Hotel. Additionally, Goldfield once offered five separate banks, two mining stock exchanges, five newspapers,and in true Wild West fashion, dozens upon dozens of saloons with one that stretched the length of an entire city block and required 30 bartenders to staff it at once.

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The Cataclysmic Flood of 1923 in Goldfield, Nevada // UNR Special Collections

Beholding the same fate as just about every other once-great Nevada boomtown, Goldfield suffered a few catastrophic fires, but what really ignited the demise of the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known were labor disputes. All kinds of strikes and other labor-related tiffs happened between mine owners and prospectors, and then by 1908 a hundred-stamp mill north of Goldfield was built, which reduced the need for so many men working the mines. Within a few years after Goldfield’s peak, the mines were making just as many profits, but required so fewer men to work them, and by 1913 a major flood wiped out many buildings in town. By 1918 the bulk of Goldfield’s population had moved on to more prosperous mining camps, and in 1923—already one hundred years ago—a devastating fire and another flood (!!) leveled 53 city blocks, changing the Goldfield story forever.

Goldfield Today: What You Won’t See from the Highway

So! The structures you see out your window as you roll through Goldfield today—those that were part of the largest town in Nevada and now more than 120 years later, have survived two apocalyptic fires and a flood—changes things slightly, right? Goldfield has seen some shit! Even though Goldfield’s population has changed from 20,000 to 200, the hardy few who’ve hung on, and in some cases moved to Goldfield in order to protect this sacred corner of Nevada, remain as adventurous in spirit as those who staked the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known all those years ago.

The next time you’re cruising through Goldfield—or hell, really get wild and make Goldfield the destination—better make sure you don’t skip town without checking these few places off the list. Through them, the old magic of the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known unquestionably lives.

Paste Eater’s Grave in Goldfield Historic Cemetery

Goldfield Historic Cemetery & The Ghouls of the Night

You’ve probably seen it, right? The Paste Eater’s Grave found within the old pioneer plot on Goldfield’s western edge. I found it that day I met John and Allen in the Goldfield Cemetery all those years ago, and it blew up as an attraction in the years since. Like that afternoon, a town’s forgotten burial ground is always my first stop when visiting an old Nevada ghost town because you get a sense of the types of people who lived there, what life must’ve been like, and more often than not, a glimpse of the complete and total wealth flowing through town based on how they entombed their loved ones for all eternity.

Official Ghouls, Goldfield Historic Cemetery

Like any other cemetery, the plots here are divided into various sections—the Firemen, Freemasons, and Catholics, to name a few examples—and in Goldfield, you’ll find a newer, modern-day burial ground. Follow a two lane dirt road to the back left of this historic haunt and you’ll find the really old graves adorned with painted white rocks with red lettering, though this isn’t the original site of where these folks were first laid to rest.

Back when Goldfield was a tiny array of miner’s tents and first being settled, they began burying their dead in what was off in the distance. If only they had a crystal ball and could predict the incomprehensible growth Goldfield would have—within just a few short years, the town had sprawled so dramatically a new train station was brought to Goldfield with its passengers detraining right at the Goldfield Cemetery. The cemetery was also right near what was set to open as one of the fanciest hotels in the West had ever known: The Goldfield Hotel. 

Knowing this put a crack in Goldfield’s image of luxury (and quick), a team of good samaritans assembled in the middle of the night to exhume the bodies and relocate them to their current location. Nicknamed the “Official Ghouls”, this group met and worked in the middle of the night so they wouldn’t terrorize anyone seeing this during daylight—because yikes, unearthing and moving an entire plot of folks would definitely be a site to see. There are plenty of old veteran graves here, and a memorable amount of Serbian plots too. I asked John and Allen about the Paste Eater’s Grave, wondering how on earth that happened, and they said after digging through a bunch of old records at the Esmeralda County Courthouse they realized that it was likely a homeless person who discovered the old glue, ate it because he was simply starving, and perished.

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Historic Esmeralda County Courthouse // UNR Special Collections
Esmeralda County Courthouse Today // John Deacon

Esmeralda County Courthouse

Before you go any further, tune into Radio Goldfield 89.1 the minute you cruise into town, and keep it on. Located in an old false front building across from the Goldfield Hotel, Radio Goldfield prides themselves as the “Voice of Goldfield”, and offers really amazing audio programming for a town of 200 people that includes Old Timey shows, oldies, “The Jackalope Show”, and other thrills. 

Remember those old graves I was just talking about? There aren’t many places in the world where you can cruise around an old cemetery, and then access a historic courthouse that was around as those very death certificates were filed. The Esmeralda County Courthouse is situated in the heart of downtown Goldfield and is one of the few titans who survived all those floods and fires. It still operates as the official Esmeralda County Courthouse, and as a public building, anybody can walk on in to explore those original Tiffany & Co. lamps, the DMV, Sheriff’s Office (with jailbirds strolling the yard out back), Assessor, and of course all the public records you are interested in browsing. The women who work here are super friendly, and will gladly hand over a photocopied document of Virgil Earp’s death certificate the office proudly keeps on record, and answer any other questions for inquiring minds. 

Thumb through old marriage certificates, historical archives, and other handwritten recorded documents that have been housed here since Goldfield’s very beginning. One of the most famous boxing matches of the early 20th century happened right out front—Gans vs. Nelson—And if there’s something else you’re curious about and can’t see in front of you (like one of the most robust photo archives in all of Nevada), cruise the 20 minutes north to the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah which spells out the complete history of all of central Nevada.

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A Sign of the Times at the Esmeralda County Courthouse
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The Goldfield Hotel

The Goldfield Hotel

There aren’t many other Nevada titans that are able to hold up the same intrigue as the day they opened more than 120 years ago. But that’s the Goldfield Hotel for you—a place that continues to enchant all these years later, even if it holds your attention for another reason altogether. Is the Goldfield Hotel haunted? People from around the world sure think so, traveling to Nevada from all corners of the globe to see if what they said on Ghost Adventures is actually true. 

Flowing champagne down the front steps, one of the first elevators West of the Mississippi, and an impressive roster of billionaire socialites earned the Goldfield Hotel the reputation of one of the most luxurious hotels in the West the day it opened in 1908. Would you expect anything less for a grand hotel designed to serve the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known? Built in the heart of a rapidly booming Goldfield, the old pioneer cemetery—the one that was exhumed and relocated—was located right around where the Goldfield Hotel was eventually built, so take that for whatever it’s worth when considering if the place is actually haunted or not. The Goldfield Hotel is so haunted, ghost hunters believe it’s actually a portal to another dimension. And the roster of not-so-friendly ghosts? “The Stabber”, who’s said to greet you and try and stab you at the entrance, George Wingfield himself, and his mistress he chained to a radiator for the entire duration of her pregnancy in room 109, who he then reportedly murdered. 

The Goldfield Hotel Lobby when the property opened in 1908

The hotel was built by Nevada banking magnate George Wingfield, and opened with 150 rooms complete with private baths, electricity, fine dining and entertainment, a lobby outfitted with mahogany-adorned everything and upholstered black leather benches, crystal chandeliers, and an elevator. The Goldfield Hotel had a gentleman’s lounge in the basement—women were forbidden to enter, of course, and stashed in their own lounge to the right of the  main lobby—which connected to Goldfield’s red light district through a labyrinth of underground tunnels. 

After Goldfield bust, the hotel has been managed by a variety of owners throughout the years, all of which have never been able to actually get the place back in motion. Call it bad property management, good ol’ fashioned greed, or maybe even an actual curse, but this place seems to be delving deeper and deeper into disrepair to a point of not being able to recover. Even though the Goldfield Hotel was built to last all these years and has, its latest property owner made some decisions that maybe hard to come back from, including auctioning off all the original hotel room doors, tiling over the gentleman’s suite leading to their basement hangout, bricking up old tunnels, sawing up old tile flooring because a few here and there are cracked, destroying the marble electrical switchplate, front desk, and much more all for the sake of getting it opened. It never has.  

That being said, the property is currently up for sale, so maybe it’s not too late to save. Goldfield Hotel tours are hit and miss—as of this writing they’re being offered by appointment only for $20 per person. Whether you have a ghostly encounter, access what they say is a portal to another dimension, or are simply interested in seeing Classic Revival architecture at one of the most legendary buildings in the Silver State, it’s worth a look.  

Goldfield Historic High

On the flip side of historic preservation, don’t skip town without seeing amazing efforts in play across the street at Goldfield High School. Located at the corner of Euclid and Ramsey (and right across the street from the Courthouse), GHS is one of the only schools that survived Goldfield’s meteorological ravages, and boy, just barely so. Like the Goldfield Hotel, the high school opened in 1908 and was designed luxuriously to serve Goldfield’s youth. The 20,000 square foot, three-story building opened with 12 classrooms, an auditorium, several bathrooms and offices, and in its first year served 125 children from all grades. 

And like the Goldfield Hotel and many other institutions across town, the powers at be didn’t skimp out on giving their children the absolute best. The school was outfitted with heat, drinking fountains, and one of the only standard-sized basketball courts in the state. It was the finest high school in all of Nevada, and served students up until the early 1950s. Since then, GHS sat abandoned, that is all the way up until 2005 when the Goldfield Historical Society made it their mission to save the structure. And throughout the past 20-or-so years, President of the Goldfield Historical Society John Ekman (the same friend I met in Goldfield’s Cemetery all those years ago) has worked tirelessly to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal grant monies to save GHS, and it’s working

Thanks to John, and the unending support of Nevada’s State Historic Preservation Office and other federal programs, Goldfield High has a freshly stabilized southern wall, which took the biggest weather-related beatings through the decades, as well as new front steps, all new windows, and a brand new roof. People want to believe the school is also crazy-haunted—you’ll have to determine that for yourself. Schedule a $20 tour just about anytime with Jeri or Steve Foutz at (541) 218-8236, and while you’re here, get yourself signed up to be a member of the Goldfield Historical Society—you’ll be glad you did.

John Ekman inside old Goldfield High // Bailey Freeman

Gemfield & Goldfield’s Wild Burros

Is there a truer symbol of the American West than a prospector and his trusted burro? Luckily, there’s no better place to experience Nevada’s unbridled landscapes and wily wild burros than Gemfield, which is situated only 4 miles from US 95 on Goldfield’s northern edge. 

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Gemfield Chalcedony

Best yet, almost every time I’ve rockhounded Gemfield there are wild horses or burros grazing in the rolling sage steppe that surrounds—sometimes both. Why are there so many wild burros in Nevada, anyway? A symbol of the Old West, burros worked Nevada’s mineral bonanzas just as much as the men and women who lived in these old boomtowns, and the burro herds in Goldfield, NV could very well be descendants of burros who were part of the boom years.

I never in a bazillion years would’ve ever guessed I’d love rooting around in the dirt, digging for turquoise, garnets, black fire opal, and now gem-quality chalcedony, but here we are. Rockhounding has a chokehold on me. Even though there may be higher quality specimens at other Nevada rockhounding sites, there’s something about Gemfield that has me coming back for more. Unlike many other rockhounding sites in Nevada, Gemfield lies on a private claim and by the honor system, asks $1 per pound. Inside, sling your rockhammer into gem-quality chalcedony and jasper just about every spectrum of the color wheel, with deep purples, swirled oranges and reds, tans, browns, yellows, and beyond. 

Goldfield Wild Burros

You can see these guys all over the Great Basin State with more than a few protected herds in places like Marietta (south of Hawthorne,) Big Smoky Valley (near Spencer Hot Springs), and Beatty (further south along Highway 95 outskirting Death Valley National Park), which is home to more than 800 wild burros. At one point the townspeople of Beatty were so menaced by the burros they asked for them to be relocated. Turns out, quickly thereafter all their pets started disappearing because the burros weren’t there to protect them from coyotes and other predators so for now, I think the burros are here to stay, and an unquestioned part of any true Goldfield experience.

Florence Mine Hoist House in Goldfield, Nevada

The Florence Mine

Speaking of burros, see more at the Florence Mine tour just north of downtown Goldfield. Finding the road to this historic mine site can sometimes be a challenge because the road’s aren’t exactly clearly marked, but the good news is you can let one of the only visible headframes in town be your beacon. 

Together with the Mohawk and Consolidated Mine, the Florence Mine was one of Goldfield’s major gold ore producers. Today, it’s one of the only historic mine sites standing and welcoming the general public to take a tour whenever you’re in town. The Florence Mine was Goldfield’s last major mine and mill, opening in 1909 and operating a forty stamp mill capable of processing 160 tons of gold ore per day. Like just about everything else in Nevada, it was destroyed by fire, shut down, then reopened by a few different mining operations in the decades since. 

But get this: during the 1950s, the Florence Mine was mostly operated by a woman—Ruth Grove—who was a school teacher who took a particular liking to Goldfield history. Legend has it that Ruth would sit in the swiveled hoist operating chair and put on quite a show for anyone who wanted to visit, which included a handful of television shows throughout the years. Today, you can tour the Florence Mine, which to me, is one of the most authentic, complete, and photogenic old mine sites in Nevada borders. While you’re here, get your burro head scratching, carrot-feeding thrills with the Florence Mine’s resident burros, who share the property with current owner John Aurich.

Florence Mine Owner John Aurich and Pet Burro
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Goldfield Car Forest

The Car Forest & Enigmata Esoterica

Sandwiched in between those century-old Victorian homes, schools, courthouses, and old glory hotels, the wandering eye may notice an artistic renaissance assuredly happening in the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known. Burners have flocked to Goldfield for many years, leaving their mark at Rocket Bob’s Art Cars as one example, but the artistic legacies of Goldfield, Nevada run much deeper than that, and can be felt all across town. 

Sprawled out on a parcel of land that’s owned by three separate German families for the sake of owning a piece of the American West, the International Car Forest of the Last Church is the brainchild of two Nevada artists, Chad Sorg and Mark Rippie. But, long before Sorg and Rippie, Goldfield local Slim Sirnes had been making desert art and art cars long before it was even a “thing” by the Burner crowd, who adopted this artistic movement in the early 90s. Similar to Nebraska’s Carhenge or even Texas’ Cadillac Ranch, this open air art gallery drove its very first rusted out old car into Nevada’s high desert terrain back in 2011, and has been adding buses, trucks, cars, vans and other vehicles to the “forest” in the years since. Slim’s sun, Sharon, purchased the land the Car Forest sits on from the Germans (she owns Gemfield, too.)

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Enigmata Esoterica in Goldfield, Nevada

Back in town, be sure to stop into Richard and Astrid’s shop, Enigmata Esoterica, where the pair of artists work and live to create all kinds of custom turquoise and silver jewelry and artwork of all kinds of different mediums. Richard and Astrid have spearheaded not just the Goldfield Art District, but also central Nevada’s latest art and science collective, the Esmeralda High Desert Institute. Together with artists in all corners of the Silver State, the Esmeralda High Desert Institute is growing momentum with each passing month, working to showcase the arts, humanities, and voices of the Great Basin State, and hosting regular lectures, meetups, and other events designed to foster the maker in all of us. 

Sunblotched and weather worn by the high desert sun, most of the cars in the Car Forest are forcefully nosedived into the ground, perfectly teetering on one another, or displayed in some other type of vertical fashion to form a forest of cars. And aside from the earthmoving itself, true artistry comes into play, thanks to generations of art car makers, and more recently, local curators Richard and Astrid, who came to Goldfield to run their store Enigmata Esoterica, and of course to welcome local and visiting artists to employ their work at the Car Forest. At one point, in the Car Forest’s early years, pretty much anyone wielding a paint can was allowed to make whatever they wanted out there, but now that Richard and Astrid are in the picture, a conscious curation effort is in the works where they welcome artists throughout the West to use old abandoned Car Forest vehicles as their canvas. 

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Turquoise and Variscite Rings by Blackfish Silver at Goldfield’s Enigmata Esoterica
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Goldfield’s Santa Fe Saloon

Santa Fe Saloon

Boy, life doesn’t afford you too many opportunities to stop and check out a wooden-boardwalk-lined, dusty old saloon that makes you forget what century you’re in, but that’s exactly what’s in store at Goldfield’s Santa Fe Saloon. Almost like a gift from the rural Nevada gods (or in this case, at least anyone willing to risk dropping a tire or two off US 95), anyone curious enough to cross the threshold will be rewarded with unending flowing beer and whiskey, a sassy bartender and even more spirited locals, and a glimpse of what it may have been like in Goldfield’s bonanza days all those years ago.

Santa Fe Saloon Brunswick Bar Counter

Most of Nevada’s old weather worn bars try and carve out their claim to fame in some way or another—oldest in the state, contains the fanciest original relics from the old country, best old Basque and buckaroo hangout, or in the Santa Fe’s case, the oldest continually operating bar in the Silver State. The Santa Fe has been open since 1905, and aside from weathering Prohibition and all the other obstacles everywhere else in Goldfield faced, perhaps the Santa Fe has survived all these years because it was the first bar on a prospector’s way back into town, and has remained a thirst quenching beacon for Nevada backroads adventurers in the centuries since.

There’s a bunch of lore and legends about the folks who used to frequent this place—including one tale about a blind miner who followed a cable from the Santa Fe all the way to the hoist house he worked at up the hill daily—and that’s the beauty of the Santa Fe experience. Like most places in rural Nevada, if you show up and show interest, you never know what cool stuff a local is waiting to tell you, or better yet, show you. Together with the Mozart Saloon, the Santa Fe is one of Goldfield’s two remaining saloons, and while the Mozart offers a more robust menu and modern day creature comforts, there’s a certain personality-packed patina about the Santa Fe that can’t be bought or replicated. Whether you stay for a pint or an overnight stay in the adjoining no-frills motel, better make sure you stop and have a look—your photo reel and the ol’ memory bank will surely thank you.

Goldfield Stop Inn

I’m usually a camping type of gal—after all, there are so many places to park the truck camper for the night in a state with more than 80% free public lands. But every now and then there’s a great stay that’s not just worth the few extra bucks, but adds to the character of the very place you’re visiting, like the Goldfield Stop Inn. 

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Goldfield Stop Inn // Just Jeri Photography
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“The Crip” at Goldfield Stop Inn // Just Jeri Photography

The same folks ready to unlock Goldfield High School and give you a proper tour, Goldfield residents Steve and Jeri Foutz relocated to the Greatest Gold Camp Ever Known after spending a career in medicine in the Pacific Northwest. Now full time Goldfieldans, both are super-duper involved in moving the Goldfield story forward, starting with their red-light-district-turned-lodging offerings. Retrofitting a collection of historic structures into a really well done private cabins, a stay at the Goldfield Stop Inn promises access to cozy rooms complete with all the Old West charm you can dream up, a hot tub (which, if you know me, always has my number), and access to impassioned locals ready to provide pointers for things to see and do while you’re in town, along with a type of storytelling and small-town hospitality and charm not found most places in a modern world.

Better yet, Jeri offers all kinds of tours all over town—think photography tours, rockhounding tours, and paranormal tours, to name a few. You’ll also find a pretty great little Goldfield museum they’ve made on their property too, filled with historic photos, the original piano from the Goldfield Hotel, and plenty of other relics keeping the pulse of Goldfield’s legacies alive.

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