The Dinky Diner

It is 2008.

Imagine you are a woman alone on a road trip. Passing through the center of Nevada, a fairly desolate place,  your car breaks down just outside of this town…

You have no way of knowing it just yet, but this was once the largest city in Nevada. That was back over 100 years ago. Now, it is more like a living ghost town.

It has been a tough road getting here.

Not everyone survives the trip.

There is no auto repair shop in town, so finding someone to fix your broken vehicle is no small feat. Once you do, it is only to learn getting the needed part will take three weeks.

Stranded, there is nothing left to do but settle in for a spell.

As you wander about, you become enchanted with the ramshackle houses… 

…dusty streets

…and random shop porches.

This is a place with few rules, and certainly no zoning laws. It is a place filled with the sort of offbeat characters such a remote outpost is destined to attract. Characters like yourself.

At some point you notice this place doesn’t have a diner, and, you think, it needs one.

Then you notice the abandoned filling station right after (or before depending on which direction you are traveling) the 90 degree bend in the main highway through town, forcing everyone to slow down as they pass it.

This, you might think, would be an ideal place for such a diner. Hungry travelers would have time to notice it, and their hunger, and pull in.

Someone, you might think, should do this.

As the weeks wear on waiting for that part, at some point you might think, that some one should be me.

Next thing you know, you strike a deal on the place, put in a kitchen and some tables and chairs, and hang an “Open” sign on the door.

Then you start luring family members from all around the country to move to this semi-Ghost town to help run the joint.

You wouldn’t be the first to wander in and stay. Virgil Earp, Wyatt’s brother, and his wife Allie showed up in 1904. He was promptly sworn in as sheriff. He died a year later. Pneumonia. He was 62.

Now it is the Spring of 2022. You passed away some three years ago and are one of the ghosts of this place. But your family carries on.

One incredibly windy day, an old FI blogger and his wife push through the door seeking refuge from the dust, something cool to drink, and food. They had been sent to the town and your diner by Ruth, the woman who runs the cafe in the Belvada Hotel in Tonopah about 26 miles north.

Your niece, their waitress, gets to chatting with them and she shares your story. Which, of course, has now become her story and that of your other family members working there.

Everything in this post is totally true…

….except the parts I totally made up to fill in the gaps.

Names were not used to protect the privacy of those involved…

…and because I forgot to ask for them.

So, there you go.

It is still a great story, even if I haven’t gotten it quite right.

All the more reason for you to go, hear it first hand for yourself, and hope your car breaks down and you get to stay.

Should you make the trip, we highly recommend staying at the Belvada in Tonopah, as long as you don’t mind ghosts. Ask for room 46. Give our best to Ruth in the cafe and Edward at the front desk.

Of course, make your way to The Dinky Diner down the road in Goldfield. The burgers are awesome, the service friendly and the atmosphere fitting. You’ll understand that last when you get there.

Spend some time wandering the town.

Tell ‘em I sent you. It won’t mean anything to anyone, but it might get a very interesting conversation started.

Goldfield, NV back in the day

Goldfield got its start in 1903 when a group of 36 prospectors and investors established the town site. As the name suggests, it was a mining town focused mostly on gold with some silver thrown in: a 3 to 1 ratio.

By 1905, there were 10,000 people. Two years later, in 1907, there were over 20,000 and it had become the largest city in Nevada and the state’s center of economic and political power.

There were…

  • 49 saloons
  • 27 restaurants 
  • 15 barber shops
  • 6 bakeries
  • 54 assayers
  • 84 attorneys
  • 162 brokers
  • 14 cigar stores
  • 21 grocers
  • 22 hotels
  • 17 laundries 
  • 40 doctors
  • 10 undertakers

Six years later it was mostly over.

The grand stone buildings that sprang up still line the streets today, the empty shells and ghosts waiting for rebirth. The Goldfield Hotel, the most prominent building of them all, would make for something great I lack the imagination to envision. I’m sure the ghosts wouldn’t mind.

In 1913 Goldfield was hit with a massive flood. It wiped out many of the homes and businesses and damaged the railroad lines.

Ten years later, in 1923, a fire destroyed 25 blocks of the central area. The very next year, another devastating fire swept through.

Goldfield was done. It became a specter of what had come before and home to a few individualists, a great cafe and, of course, its ghosts.

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      • Vorlic says

        Hurrah for the individualists!

        Nice tale.

        Be yourself.

        “The aim of life is not to be on the side of the majority, rather to avoid finding oneself within the ranks of the insane.”
        — Marcus Aurelius

    • Mark says

      Economies built on extractive industries producing a product of questionable intrinsic value are prone to boom and then bust. This may or may not be applicable to crypto. But hey, get insane with the blockchain if you want.

  1. B says

    Interesting- I didn’t know Goldfield was once the largest town in Nevada! I am glad you saw it for more than we did when we blew through on the way to Sin City. Thanks for the history lesson.

  2. JP says

    If in goldfield, I HIGHLY recommend going into their Recorder’s office. Go right at opening or after lunch so you can watch the recorder/clerk open the door….it’s an old, old bank vault door – straight out of the western movies. It’s awesome!

  3. Lynne says

    Hey, if our road trips happen to cross paths, I’d love to buy you a drink!
    We just came through Death Valley and the Alabama Hills and are presently in the Kernville/Lake Isabella area.

  4. Charlotte says

    We stayed in Tonopah as well and drove through Goldfield. It was fascinating! Lots of ghost towns in Nevada.

    • Tony W says

      Wait you actually watch the market?!
      Meh, didn’t even know the market was down lol. I’ll look in 15yrs when it’s time to start moving to bonds.

      • Ryan says

        It seems like I only speak to rich people here. I do value my money above everything. I work in a terrible job, no 401k, and I measure my money in years of my live gone to it.
        That’s maybe why I place so much value in it and when I see a year’s worth of work just vanish to Mr. Market I can’t stop to think I wasn’t cut for this. For most of you money should come way easier, especially if you have a 401k and degree in something, which is not my case, so it must be easier to stomach indeed and be so comfortable to not even open your account everyday.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Hi Ryan…

          The people here at at all different stages of their financial journey.

          The difference is mindset, not that money somehow has come more easily to others or that they have degrees. Plenty of people with degrees are dead broke and/or in debt.

          The mindset is that they understand what I have written many times here and in my book: Market declines are to be expected and are a perfectly natural part of the process. When they run their course, the market continues to go up. You can’t predict them, you just have to accept them and ride it out.

          But that is not easy and it is not for everyone. If this recent downturn has you losing sleep, then investing in the market is not for you. Nothing wrong with that. You have learned a valuable lesson.

          But be sure that is the lesson you have learned. When the market turns back up, if you buy back in you will be locking yourself into a no win strategy of panic selling and greedy buying.

        • Lynne says

          Oh Ryan, sorry that you didn’t check in here or on the MMM forum BEFORE you sold. “Buy low and sell high” is MUCH easier said than done and counterintuitive but it’s the way to get rich. My parents at the beginning of their marriage 60 years ago got burned in the market and from then on kept their money in a savings account. They would be gazillionnaires by now (in their 80s) and they would have taught me how to invest instead of me finally learning about it myself in my late 40s (with the help of JL and others).
          Read “The Simple Path to Wealth” and educate yourself until you understand how the markets work and are comfortable with jumping back in. Good luck to you. I’m sorry you had to learn the expensive/hard way.

          • Ryan says

            I hope you’re right but one day Mr Market won’t get back up and will stay down for generations. I definitely won’t get back in the market once it turns around because I know how painful it is to lose money. Way more than pleasure of gaining.
            I’ll just save enough to just spend some and get by until I die. I just bought a 3.5% yielding CD good for 10 yrs now. It’s not the promissed of 10% of stocks but it’s not zero of savings accts and it’s Safe (inflation aside which I’m well aware someone out there was going to reply about).

  5. Robert Reisner says

    In difficult times, unexpected opportunities might arise. US Treasury iBonds are now paying 9.62%. They only allow $15,000/yr per person to be invested but it does add up over time. A great option for the long term bond component of a retirement plan. 9.62% and fully guaranteed by the US government!

  6. Chenda says

    Hi JL

    OT question but do you know what happened to Mike over at lacking ambition? He was very influential on my younger self but he seemed to suddenly disappear from the fire community?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Chenda…

      I’d be curious to know myself. He was a good guy and I always enjoyed Lacking Ambition.

      The last time I saw him was around 2012 before I moved from the area. He was buying and fixing up some rental houses.

      His last post was May 8, 2014 but the blog is still up. My guess is he just lacks the ambition to write on it anymore. 😉

    • Mark says

      I’m always checking his site just in case he has started posting again.

      He had a huge impact on my journey to FI.

      I miss him!

  7. Princess Di says

    I wish these articles had dates. Lol.
    Are you willing to comment on bonds and stocks going down in tandem? Would love to know insights.

    • Donald says

      Same question here. Bonds are losing more than stocks lately and this is not normal. Bonds have only one job that is to estabilize a portfolio, now it’s not doing that. The simple path to wealth doesn’t say anything like that. I wonder if JL’s book is not prepared for the golden age of investing where things don’t behave any more as they always did.

    • Antony says

      I was wondering that too. I just finished reading the Simple Path to Wealth for a second time and that’s something not mentioned. Maybe times changed and this book is not up to date anymore. Hope this new book he announced will cover this huge gap

  8. Allen says

    Dear Mr. Collins,

    Loved your book the Simple Path to Wealth and have recommended it to many of my friends.
    I was again recommending the book to another friend today and saw that there seems to be a newly launched copycat book with similar title and front cover.
    I thought you should know. I almost thought it’s your sequel.

    Thanks in advance,

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