Friday, May 28, 2021

Ghost Town and Art (maybe?)

The train station depot

 Just outside of Beatty is the ghost town of Rhyolite. Gold was discovered in 1904 and buildings began springing up everywhere. One building was 3 stories tall and cost $90,000. They had a stock exchange, hotels, stores, a school for 250 children, an ice plant, two electric plants and even a miner's union hospital.

But in 1907 the US financial markets were rocked by a panic that saw closures of banks and mines. The mine closed in 1911 and by 1916 the town was gone. Its only claim to glory now is that it was featured in a few movies including The Air Mail, a silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

One of the most famous houses in Rhyolite is Tom Kelly's bottle house.  In 1905 Tom arrived to try his hand at mining for gold. He wanted to build a house in the Bullfrog Hills but the only source of lumber were Joshua trees, not suited for building with. So Tom found inspiration at the bottom of his beer bottle. He collected 50,000 bottles in less than six months, enough to build a three room house. Inside the walls were plastered and the bottles were stuck in mortar on the outside.


When the house was completed in 1906 Kelly was 80 years old and he decided not to live in this house. Since everybody thought this place was like a castle, Kelly decided to raffle off the house for $3 per ticket. The Bennet family won the house and lived in it until 1914. When Rhyolite died all but 20 people left the area. The house had a caretaker from 1936 to 1954. The final inhabitants were the Thompson family who lived there until 1969. The house is maintained by the local historical society.

 Right down the road a few yards in the Goldwell Open Air Museum. I am the first to admit I do not understand most art and these even less than others.

In 1984 the Belgian artist, Albert Szukaiski built 12 life-sized figures patterned after "The Last Supper". They consist of empty flowing robes (made of fiberglass) and look like ghosts. Not sure what happened to the table.

Several pieces of art were destroyed in a wind storm in 2007. These remain.


The Artist

A miner and his penguin

Sit Here

And I find this one very bizarre. Lady of the Desert - she is 20' tall and made of pink and yellow cinder blocks. Not sure who put up the frame (or maybe hallway) leading up to her.

This picture of her is taken from the Goldwell Museum website. She was created by Hugo Heyrman.



  1. I've heard about the beer bottle house before.

  2. I agree with you on what some call art. But beer bottle house is pretty cool. There was a bottle house here on Old Benson Hwy but the last time I went out that way I did't see it.

  3. 50K bottles in six months? That's a lot of drinking! Surprised the man's liver didn't explode... :cD

  4. Some very unique finds when you have time to explore.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. What an amazing place. I should love to go there checking it out.


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