Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rhyolite, Ghost Town Fabuloso

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada was one of the highlights of our trip to the Death Valley region this fall. (Yep, I still have a few blog posts left to cover that trip!) Rhyolite has it all--a plethora of ruined buildings in a setting of scenic desolation. Above: the Cook Bank Building--photo by Bill Dahl. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the former three-story building on Golden Street:

"Finished in 1908, it cost more than $90,000, equivalent to $2,330,000 in 2013. Much of the cost went for Italian marble stairs, imported stained-glass windows, and other luxuries. The building housed brokerage offices and a post office, as well as the bank."


The town sprung to life in the early 1900s with the discovery of gold and went bust within a few years. Above: the famous bottle house, which is fenced and kept in good repair.

Above: The Last Supper by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski at the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which sits at the entrance to the town. (Photo by Bill) This museum features sculptures by other European artists, including Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by Hugo Heyrman, a cinder block sculpture said to be based on the idea of the pixel. There's a little gift shop with a caretaker who will talk your ear off--he specializes in taking pictures of lightning over Rhyolite, and they're really quite astounding. He will also sell you postcards and a "Death Valley Rock Racing Kit."

If all this wonderment weren't enough, the museum also has one of Eames Demetrios' "Kymaerica" plaques, placed in 2006, a tall tale that reads:

Rhyolite's District of Shadows 

"Up the hill lies the financial and population core of Rhyolite, capital of Rhyoleind, and trade center for rhyoleir, the rare lighter-than-air mineral that gave the city its power, wealth and, some said, purpose. You'll see bottlehouses built from discarded rhyolyaseh and the Cook's Banke, where the pure substance was stored and the Brave 57 killed by Federica the Unifier. Indeed, the city feels much the same today as it did after her forces looted it.

"But there were those who believed the treasure of this gwome was its land, light, and the extraordinary nature--not value--of rhyoleir itself, mined nowhere else. Right here was Geldwll, or "District of Shadows" in the Cognate tongue, after the miners of many faiths who prayed and created here out of sight of the greedy. As Rhyolite grew, this became the spiritual and cultural heart of the community, with several legendary museums. One, where art and even hallways floated just above the desert floor, was run by Porfire Golden who, ironically, saved the city's hoard at the cost of his own life."