The echoes of mining have long since evaporated from Gold Point, a ghost town in Esmeralda County, Nevada. But this old car and abandoned buildings guard the site of one of the Wild West’s most chance gold strikes. The tale began in the 1880s at a small mining camp called Lime Point. When silver was struck in 1902, prospectors from Tonopah and Goldfield made their way to the area and the town – renamed Hornsilver – was born.
However, harsh conditions and lack of water led to its abandonment within a year. Circumstances improved in 1905 with the discovery of a rich silver vein, and by 1908 the town had a post office and a rowdy 13 saloons. But fate intervened when costly lawsuits and inefficient mining methods soon rendered Hornsilver a ghost town for a second time.
Charles Stoneham of the New York Giants bought the mine in 1915. But it wasn’t until 1927 when a miner named J.W. Dunfee made a chance discovery – gold – that saw the ghost town renamed Gold Point and led to the longest period of prosperity in its history, warding off the Great Depression that swept America.
Gold Point’s third and final fall into abandonment was brought about by World War Two, when the government ordered all gold mines to close down as nonessential to the war effort. Residents drifted away or went to war, and Gold Point once again became a ghost town – a title it still holds today.
Deserted but still frequented, the town boasts around 50 abandoned buildings, including former Senator Harry Wiley’s home and the post office, which is now a museum. The High Desert Drifters Western Historical Society today calls Gold Point its home, and tourists flock in large numbers to the old ghost town.
According to local legend, the headless ghost of Brittany Daniloff – the last woman to die in Gold Point – haunts the town. Daniloff met her end while preparing scallops in her kitchen. Instability brought on by mine deconstruction caused a support beam over the kitchen to collapse, killing her outright.