Rhyolite is in the Bullfrog Hills of Nevada, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern boundary of Death Valley National Park. The town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, miners and investors flocked to the Bullfrog Mining District. The Las Vegas & Tonopah and Bullfrog Goldfield railroads actually built into town; the Tonopah & Tidewater RR built north from Ludlow to Gold Center and then gained access via the BGRR.

Industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the famed Montgomery Shoshone Mine in 1906 and built a mill. By 1907, Rhyolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, newspapers, a hospital, a school, an opera house, and a stock exchange. At its peak population was figured between 5,000 and 10,000.

But Rhyolite declined almost as rapidly as it rose. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital. Ore production soon dwindled throughout the district. By the end of 1910, the MS mine was operating at a loss, and it closed in 1911. At this time, and even prior, many out-of-work miners had moved elsewhere, and Rhyolite’s population dropped well below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to zero.

Presently, Rhyolite and its ruins are a tourist attraction and a setting for motion pictures. Most of its buildings crumbled, were salvaged for building materials, or were moved to nearby Beatty or other towns, although the railway depot and a house made chiefly of empty bottles were repaired and preserved.


Book Details




8.5"x11" paperback, color cover

Edition / Year

2012 reprint (1939)



About The Author

Betsy Ritter

The author (aka Mrs. Elizabeth Clemens, wife of Rhyolite Herald editor Earle R. Clemens) revisits the bustling life of the Bullfrog Mining District with memories of the fast and furious times of Rhyolite. A look at selected people, businesses, schools, railroad transportation and more – complete with black & white images.


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