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.
…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.
- 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.