Monday, March 3, 2008

The Ghost Town Of Delamar, Nevada

In 1893. John Delamar struck gold at the current site of the ghost town named for him, Delamar. This desolate spot is in east-central Nevada off Highway 93, about 17 miles west of Caliente, NV; it's not too far from the border with Utah. It's reached by a signed dirt road off Highway 93. The first ten miles of the dirt road are fairly smooth, but the final two miles are steep, sandy, and require a high clearance 4WD vehicle (or did when I visited back in 2003). I suppose one could hike the remaining two miles, but I wouldn't recommend it!

By 1897, Delamar was the leading producer of gold in Nevada. it boasted a population of 3000 along with a post office, several businesses (including saloons and a hotel), and a combination theater/opera house. There is no large-scale source of water near Delamar, and as a result water had to be carried in by mule wagons from a stream 12 miles away. Other supplies had to be transported from a railhead in Milford, Utah, which was over 150 miles away. Because water was so scarce, "dry mining" techniques were used which produced clouds of fine dust in the mines. Many miners and other residents died from lung diseases, and Delamar became known as "the widowmaker." But because wages were high for the time (over $3 a day!), there were plenty of young men willing to take their chances in the mines.

Delamar died an abrupt death in 1909 when the veins of gold ore suddenly tapped out. This setback was compounded by a disastrous fire which destroyed the wooden buildings in town and the wooden roofs on the stone buildings. Delamar was deserted a year later.

The main things left in Delamar are stone walls and foundations, as you can see in the following photos:

I understand the structure below is what remains of the theater/opera house. It only takes a little imagination to visualize how it must've looked in the past, complete with full stone walls and a wooden roof:

The view below is from a hillside above Delamar and looks down on the town site. It gives you an idea of how isolated this place is (there's no cell phone service out here!) and how grim life must've been there when the mines were in operation:

Delamar is privately owned and access to the site can be restricted at any time, so I don't know if it is still possible to visit. It takes about three hours to reach Delamar from Las Vegas, but I found it well worth the trip. It combines the remoteness, the stark beauty, and the history that so infatuates me when it comes to ghost towns of the American west.