The early inhabitants of California and Nevada left behind a rich history that documents their trials and tribulations. Many of their old towns transformed into functioning cities while other not-so-lucky ones were left abandoned and in ruin. This list showcases just a few of the interesting ghost towns California and Nevada has to offer for the curious.
1. Poker Flat, CA
This location isn’t an easy one to find but it sure is interesting. Located between La Porte and Downieville, Poker Flat was once a gambling town rich in gold with an abundance of stores, houses, and even fifteen saloons. Once the gold ran dry the residents left Poker Flat.
2. Malakoff Diggins, CA
The site of California’s largest hydraulic mine, Malakoff Diggins is still hosting visitors today. Guests range from treasure-seeking miners to the historically-minded curious. The visitor center offers a short video showcasing the history of this old mining town.
3. Bodie, CA
When a settler first discovered gold around 1860, it didn’t take long for Bodie to become a prosperous town. By 1880 there were around 10,000 people living in Bodie and 65 saloons that profited off on gambling and alcohol. No surprise that there was also a high-crime rate. Today, visitors can visit Bodie as a California State Park.
4. Gold Point, NV
What was once a struggling “tent city,” Gold Point found its fortune through silver and gold. It wasn’t to last though, once the price of gold dropped in the 1930’s and an unfortunate mining accident in the 1960’s, the inhabitants decided to leave the town for good.
5. Tunnel Camp, NV
Established in 1927, Tunnel Camp was meant to be a mining town that connected to the Seven Troughs deposit but was eventually abandoned by 1950. The workers were supposed to tunnel into the Coalition, Fairview, and Mazuma hills mines to relieve the water-filled tunnels, but the designers calculated wrong and ended up missing their target resulting in the whole project being marked a failure.
6. Metropolis, NV
Built in 1911 by the Pacific Reclamation Company, this town was an attempt to create a model city. Metropolis was a thriving city filled with all the modern amenities. It had everything it needed and survived happily until 1925 when a plague of crickets and drought caused the city’s agriculture to diminish. In 1947, the last class at the local school was taught and Southern Pacific Railroad removed their spur to the town.
7. Fort Churchill, NV
Fort Churchill was a military fort meant to protect the early settlers and the Pony Express along their route throughout Nevada. This haven of protection diminished into ruins under the protection of the state of Nevada. Fort Churchill is now a state historic park that welcomes all visitors to explore and camp in the shadow of this once-incredible fort.
8. Midas, NV
Nestled just west of Tuscarora, Midas was once a quaint mining town that witnessed many transformations and name changes. Established in 1907 after the first gold discovery, Midas grew to support several saloons but never exceeded a population of 5,000. Though Midas did well in regards to mining, it never supported a large population. The rubble of what was still exists, but it now remains on private property.
9. Belmont, NV
Belmont was the prime example of live fast, die young. Established in 1865, this mining town was known for its luxurious lifestyle and housing the “Cosmopolitan,” an extravagant music hall. During the town’s lifetime, it was estimated it produced $15 million in silver. When the mines ran dry after 20 years, the town added itself to the list of former jewels of Nevada only to become a ghost town.
10. Genoa, NV
Located east of the Sierra Nevada’s, Genoa was a haven for travelers tackling the majestic mountain range. Established as a trading post in 1851, the fort was destroyed from a fire in 1910. A replica was constructed in 1947 and became a part of the Pioneer Day celebration, Today, Genoa is a small but thriving community that is home to both the oldest settlement in Nevada as well as Nevada’s Oldest Bar.