Saturday, March 3, 2012

Death Valley Days-Part Three

2-21-12 and 2-22-12

Starting as a two-man camp in January 1905, Rhyolite became a town of 1,200 people in two weeks and reached a population of 2,500 by June 1905. By then it had 50 saloons, 35 gambling tables, cribs for prostitution, 19 lodging houses, 16 restaurants, half a dozen barbers, a public bath house, and a weekly newspaper, the Rhyolite Herald. Looks like drinking and gambling were the priority like every other mining town.



By 1907 about 4,000 people lived in Rhyolite. In 1907 Rhyolite had concrete sidewalks, electric lights, water mains, telephone and telegraph lines, daily and weekly newspapers, a monthly magazine, police and fire departments, a hospital, school, train station and railway depot, at least three banks, a stock exchange, an opera house, a public swimming pool and two formal church buildings. Most prominent was the three-story John S. Cook and Co. Bank on Golden Street. Finished in 1908, it cost more than $90,000, equivalent to $2,330,000 in 2012. 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 Rhyolite Mining Stock Exchange opened on March 25, 1907 with 125 members including brokers from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other large cities. The Stock Exchange listed shares of 74 area companies and a similar number of companies in nearby mining districts. Sixty thousand shares changed hands on the first day, and by the end of the second week the number had topped 750,000.
Three railroads eventually served Rhyolite. The first was the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad (LVTR), which began running regular trains to the city on December 14, 1906. The depot built in California-mission style cost about $130,000--equivalent to about $3,360,000 in 2012. It must have been a spectacular building in it’s day.



A miner named Tom T. Kelly built the Bottle House in February 1906 from 50,000 discarded beer and liquor bottles.


This is the only wood building left in Rhyolite because of a shortage of wood. When the “boom went bust” they tore down the wood buildings and took the lumber with them to new locations.


This was a former general store.


Here are the remains of the Cook Bank. The Cook Bank is in the center of the top row of the collage of pictures previously shown.


This is the second school house erected, but by the time the school was finished in 1909, most of the students had left because their parents had gone looking for their next opportunity. By 1919 even the post office closed.


Titus Canyon Road is a 27 mile one way road/trail that goes from east to west.


Normally, when Sandy sees a sign like this she starts to complain about traveling on the road. However we had visited with a guy camped next to us and he  assured us he had done the road in a Chevy Malibu. Now, if it had rained that would have changed the circumstances significantly.


The road starts out pretty good.


Here is our Subaru parked next to a pick up camper as seen from trailhead overlooking the area.


Now the road is getting more to my (Dave) liking.



Sandy taking pictures of the scenery and herself in the side mirror. And it’s a long way down over the edge of the of that skinny road. We spoke to one driver at one of the pull outs who said his fear of heights had him pretty freaked out on some of the sharp corners.


When we got to Red Pass at 5,250 elevation, we found out how it got it’s name. Now is that dirt red or what?




Have you noticed how much “better” the road is getting?


Scam artists ran amuck even back then.



We could see about 6 mine shafts going into the hill side.



It took us about 20 miles of driving to finally get to Titus Canyon. This is an area you would need the high clearance/4 wheel drive vehicle if it had previously rained. In fact you would not want to be in this canyon at all if it was a down pouring of rain.



This small spring was causing a road problem. Surprisingly, Death Valley has many springs in some areas.






The road narrows down to less than 20 feet in some sections. The rocks were not as colorful here, but the layers of rock formations were fascinatingly beautiful. Just imagine the violent forces that created this earth.






Out at last. What a wonderful drive it was.


A couple cowboys coming in from a day on the trail.


On our last day leaving Death Valley we stopped at Badwater Basin—the lowest spot in the USA at 282 feet below sea level.




That’s all from Death Valley and we are already talking about when we can get back here again to take in some of the areas we couldn’t fit into our schedule. It takes more than 2-3 days to see this vast area.

Until next time,

Dave and Sandy

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