Monday, January 14, 2008

The Ghost Town Of Candelaria, Nevada

Candelaria, Nevada is a terrific ghost town. It's very isolated----meaning it gets few visitors----and there are some great buildings and ruins scattered about the site. Candelaria is located in Nye county near the border with California, almost due east of Mono Lake in California. It is located along a dirt road between Nevada highways 95 and 360 south of Mina; when I drove it, the dirt road definitely required a high clearance 4WD vehicle like my 4Runner. The elevation is a little over 5000 feet, meaning summer days are often cool here and heavy snows are common in the winter.

Candelaria roared into being with a silver strike in 1879. Water had to be transported by wagon from a spring located nine miles away and sold for $1 a gallon-----whiskey was a cheaper (and more popular) drink. The "waterless mining" techniques produced fine dust which eventually killed many miners and other residents of Candelaria. Despite the water shortages, by 1893 Candelaria had a population of approximately 3000 and boasted two hotels, three doctors, several stores, and numerous saloons. But 1893 also marked the peak of silver production, which went into rapid decline. By 1900, the mines had closed, so had the post office, and most of the population had moved on. By the end of World War I, Candelaria was abandoned. However, there has been a revival of mining activity in the area. When I visited in 2002, there was a mining camp along the road, but this time miners are living in mobile homes. When that mine plays out, I expect those trailers will just move on to the next strike.

This is the first building you see when you arrive in Candelaria from the west. There's even some glass remaining in those front doors:

A surprising number of wood structures remain at Candelaria, although most are slowly collapsing like this one:

Many of the commercial structures at Candelaria had a stone foundation and walls and a wooden roof, like this one:

I wonder what this substantial looking structure was. It looks like it may have been a bank, but I could find no evidence of a reinforced vault area like those in other ghost town banks. Maybe it was the mining office or something of comparable importance:

This was the Main Street of Candelaria. I have no idea what the crumbling stone foundation once was, but the sagging wood structure seems to have been some sort of stable or barn for horses or other livestock:

I wonder how a realtor would've described this cabin if it was for sale: cozy little house with big backyard and view of mountains. . . . .

My visit to Candelaria was a marvelous experience. I dropped by on a glorious late August day when there was not a cloud in the sky, the wind was still, and the humidity seemed to be zero. It was so quiet I was aware of my own breathing and heartbeats. It was as if I could feel the history of those buildings, hear the voices of its former residents, and for a few moments grasp the past in my hands. It's sad to think the desert will one day reclaim Candelaria and this wonderful outdoor historical museum will be lost forever. I'm glad I got to experience it.