Nevada is full of amazing places to visit—stunning vistas and scenic natural beauty await the intrepid traveler venturing into the seemingly inhospitable desert; including world-renowned spots like the Hoover Dam and the epic Grand Canyon. And don’t forget the cities: the glitz, glamour, and gambling of Las Vegas, and the “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno.

But there’s more to Nevada than just its glittery cities and National Landmarks—there’s also plenty of history here, too; namely thanks to the Silver State’s over 600(!) ghost towns, many of which are still standing as a result of the state’s dry climate. An important part of both state and U.S. history, these bygone towns are a monument to the silver and gold rushes of the late 19th century that drew fortune-seekers from all over the world—but were subsequently abandoned once the flow of these valuable metals dried up.

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And Goldfield, Nevada is just one example of these historically significant ghost towns that dot the Nevada plains; known as a “living ghost town,” the Wild West outpost of Goldfield retains much of its history through several key landmarks that are reminiscent of the days when everyone from miners to out-of-town fortune hunters flocked to the area to try and grab a piece of the American Dream.

Get A Taste Of Local History And Lore

When visiting Goldfield, the ideal first stop is the Goldfield Visitor’s Center, which is full of useful info and historical relics about the town. It’s also home to locals who are more than willing to give visitors the skinny on the town’s fascinating history—so don’t forget to ask around for some insider tips and stories about Goldfield’s amazing past. The visitor’s center is also a bastion of information and offers everything from Historic Walking Tour maps to opportunities to sign up for one of the town’s paranormal or historical tours. Located on the northwestern edge of town, directly on U.S. Highway 95

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Belly Up To The Bar At The Santa Fe Saloon

Once one of the largest cities in the state, Goldfield had its share of natural disasters over the years that nearly leveled the town and many of its structures. However, the Santa Fe Saloon has stood the test of time and has the honor of remaining the longest continually operating business in the entire town. Established in 1905, the Santa Fe was built on the outskirts of town and was meant to cater to the area’s many miners and prospectors—a lucky break that perhaps saved the saloon from destruction when many of its Goldfield counterparts succumbed to both floods and fires.

Today, the Santa Fe is a great spot for visitors to truly embrace the town’s amazing history by bellying up to the original Brunswick bar and mingling with the locals. Enjoy a shot of Jack Daniels from “Nevada’s Meanest Bartender” and pose with the figure of the famous Wild West figure Wyatt Earp (who reportedly once lived here). There’s also a motel here, too, for those who feel like making a night of it in this Gold Rush-era treasure. 925 N 5th Avenue, Goldfield

History Rules At The Goldfield Historic Cemetery

One of the best things to see in Goldfield is its sprawling cemetery filled with a battalion of tombstones, each with an epitaph that's worth a read—after all, how often in today’s world do you see the person’s cause of death spelled out so literally on their headstone, whether it's from a mining accident or from eating library paste(!) Because the original cemetery had to be moved during the boom years, the more modern spot is out of town—but no less historic. A great way to truly learn about Goldfield's former inhabitants, the Goldfield Historic Cemetery tells a tale of this once enigmatic mining city all its own. Located just outside of town

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A Haunted And Historic Spot

Any visit to Goldfield would be incomplete without a tour of the Goldfield Historic High School. Like the Santa Fe, the historic high school survived all of Goldfield’s many Old Testament-esque natural disasters—and still stands today as a testament to the town’s longevity and historical merit. Abandoned for years, the building and its surroundings were on the verge of collapse and were nearly lost forever until preservation efforts made it possible for its continued existence—all the better for visitors to learn more about the Old West town through tours that help to keep its history alive.

From the original staircases (complete with cobwebs and rickety, borderline scary, charm), to the doorway inscribed with Goldfield High’s Class of 1942’s signatures, this place is packed with history—and the basement is also allegedly haunted, too. 321 Euclid Avenue, Goldfield

Other Ways To Explore Goldfield’s Living Ghost Town

One of the best ways to learn about Goldfield is by talking to the locals—many are from the area and have descendants who lived in Goldfield during its boom years, and most are willing to share their history with interested visitors. But that’s not all; outside of Goldfield’s most well-known attractions are other interesting facets of the town for those who know where to look.

  • The Historic Equipment Park is full of interesting relics from Goldfield’s past—including original pieces from the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad that made the town into one of the booming epicenters of the Gold Rush
  • Tune in to Goldfield Radio 89.1 FM to hear unique local programs like the Desert Rat Show and the Jackalope Hour—the perfect soundtrack to enhance any historic visit to Goldfield
  • Check out some of the town’s best relics at the Goldfield Fire Station, which, somewhat ironically, managed to survive the town’s many fires and has been standing for over 100 years
  • Explore the weird and wonderful Car Forest on Goldfield’s South Side
  • See more historic buildings like The Goldfield Hotel, the Esmeralda County Courthouse, and the Tex Rickard House

With its famous attractions such as Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Nevada is full of a fascinating history reaching back to the Gold Rush boom that created hundreds of towns throughout the state—places that were eventually deserted and have subsequently become ghost towns. By exploring these enigmatic reminders of the Silver State’s past through visits to places like Goldfield, visitors learn about a valuable part of American history in the form of the interesting and sometimes quirky attractions that still exist today to tell the thrilling tales of what was once the Wild Wild West.

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