Founded in 1904 and dead by 1916, Rhyolite was one of several short-lived boom-towns from the late Gold Rush era. People were drawn to the desert on the edge of Death Valley by the promise of gold found amongst quartz in local mines, and by 1906 the town had all the promising indicators of permanence with the largest population in the area.
According to the US National Park Service: “The town immediately boomed, with buildings springing up everywhere. One building was 3 stories tall and cost $90,000 to build. A stock exchange and Board of Trade were formed. The red-light district drew women from as far away as San Francisco. There were hotels, stores, a school for 250 children, an ice plant, two electric plants, foundries and machine shops and even a miner’s union hospital.”
But in 1907, the US financial markets were rocked by a panic that saw closures of banks, businesses, and mines. Rhyolite began to falter. The mine closed in 1911. In 1916, the lights went out forever. Since then, it has featured in several Westerns. In 1925 Paramount Pictures restored the bottle house for the film The Air Mail, and it was restored again more recently by locals… read more >