Yes! I’ve seen them! They lurk near the Goldwell Open Air Museum at the south end of town and they will hold still for pictures. Now and then wild burros are found wondering with them.
We left Lone Pine in the morning heading south on Hwy 395, then turned east on Hwy 136/190 into Death Valley. Although we were in tourist mode and were looking forward to seeing some of the high points as we looped through the vast desert area, we were going to stay true to “Our Roads Less Traveled” mode by ending this day in Ryolite near Beatty Nevada (Northeast exit out of Death Valley).
We stretched our legs in Stovepipe Wells, where you pay to enter the National Park. A National Park Lifetime Pass for Seniors (age 62+) is only $10. One of the best deals there is!
They mined borax and loaded the legendary “20 mule team wagons” at our next stop. Young buckaroos of the 1950’s grew up watching early westerns on TV like Rawhide, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, Cheyenne, and Maverick; and, remember Borax soap commercials where the 20 mule team wagons were being pulled a crossed the desert. Maybe you even sent away for the model kit to build your own.
We continued to Furnace Creek stopping again at the National Park Museum; but, didn’t linger. We were looking forward to the “Artist Palette” where minerals paint an array of colors on the hills.
We continued to the “Devil’s Golf Course” The salt and alkaline crystals build up spiky jagged formations which create a rough stark landscape. Unfortunately people have walked out through this, crushing the closest structures down so it’s hard to get a good picture without doing the same.
Further south was “Bad Water” the lowest place in the United States. Two hundred and eighty two fee below sea level.
If you look up from the white motor home in the right third of the parking lot you will see a white dash on the mountain. That is a sign showing sea level.
Because this trip was partially to see the wildflowers in bloom we continued south following the lower loop. Unlike the Antelope Valley and Lancaster’s poppy fields the flowers were few and far between.
We continued down and around the southern loop ending up in Shoshone, a cute little town but not much to do. From there we went north skirting the eastern edge to Death Valley all the way through the Amargosa Valley to Hwy 95, then north to Beatty. We were back in the “Roads Less Traveled” mode. Which brings us back to our Ghosts and Ghost town
Ryolite is just west out of Beatty. Gold was discovered in the Bullfrog hills and valley at the turn of the 19th century and Ryolite was born in 1905. By 1906 Industrialist like Charles Schwab were investing in the infrastructure of Ryolite. At it’s peak the town had up to 5,000 people. “Ryolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, newspapers, a hospital, a school, an opera house, and a stock exchange”. But by the end of 1907 things started to decline. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake caused funds to dry up for investing. By 1910 the major mines were running at a loss and in 1911 closed . For the next 9 years the towns population steadily diminished and by 1920 there were less than a 1000 people in Ryolite.
The town soon became a ghost town. The elegant’s of the past can still be seen in the crumbling architecture.
The wind whistles through the skeletons of buildings as dust from the dissolving masonry crawls down whats left of main street. A feeling of grand lives past seem to haunt the old hotel.
It’s not the ghosts you see that make you shiver… It’s the ghosts you feel… on this road less traveled.
Goodnight! Craig Lowe