The miners of old spent lots of money at the brothels and even named mountains after their favorite ladies of the night. Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state in the lower 48. That’s a lot of mounds to check out. And still today, when a guy tires of the womenfolk, as they can become whiney, he can drive for hundreds of miles without seeing another human, keeping his whiskey—life’s other essential—all to himself.
Here is a list of a few of the many ghost towns to explore while on US Route 95, the Veterans Memorial Highway in Nevada. Places are listed starting from the north at Tonopah and heading south on US 95 towards Lost Wages.
At the crossroads of US 95 and US 6 is Tonopah. I would not consider Tonopah a true ghost town—it has a Best Western, McDonalds, and other modern chains that rape the idea of desolate from the landscape. There is really not much to see here during the day since it is in the middle of nowhere. A few hundred miles to the south on 95 is Las Vegas, the City of Lights. A few hundred miles to the north is the bastard child of Vegas, Reno. It is a two-hour ride to Area 51 towards the east and less than a 30 minute ride to Tonopah Test Range, home of the Stealth Bomber. The town lies far from any light pollution, which makes it a top spot for gazing at the stars (tonopahstartrails.com). I looked up and found a constellation in the shape of my manhood. Be sure to fill up your tank before leaving town, because you can’t get gas for a long time.
If you need to burn some time before the sun sets, you might want to stop by the Central Nevada Museum. It is tiny and fairly boring, but hey, it is free and was rated the Best Museum in rural Nevada for the second year in a row. Does that make it sound more exciting? It isn’t.
–Wyatt Earp opened the Northern Saloon here on January 1, 1902, with $80,000 from the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska.
–Reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes married Hollywood starlet Jean Peters in room 33 at the L&L Motel in Tonopah. That would be like Bill Gates getting hitched at a Super 8 motel.
Gold was discovered at Goldfield in 1902, and it soon became the largest town in Nevada with a whopping 30,000 people. Only 440 people remain in Goldfield now, so it’s kind of a ghost town, but people still pan for gold.
The Goldfield Hotel is said to be haunted. A lady of the evening was chained to a radiator while giving birth by the dude who owned the hotel. She died and her bastard child was chucked down the mineshaft that the hotel was built over. If you’re lucky, you can see her in room 109 and hear her baby crying on dark nights.
I stopped at Dusty Fenders Grill ’n’ Fill for breakfast and gas. Dusty Fenders is the only place in town that I found with gas. During breakfast I chatted with the waitress and she told me that a bike magazine did a story about her place many years ago. I asked her if I could see the article. To my astonishment it was in an older issue of Baggers written by Billy Bartels who was the previous editor of this magazine and the nephew of the waitress/owner. If you need anything, Dusty’s will find it—unless it’s on a Saturday where Dusty’s contributes to overcoming its financial drama that comes with living in any ghost town by honoring the Sabbath.
–Actor Ben Alexander, co-star of TV’s Dragnet, was born here in 1911.
–Wyatt Earp owned his second saloon here in 1905 (see Tonopah).
–Wyatt Earp’s brother, Virgil, died here from pneumonia in 1905. Wyatt bailed out of town shortly after.
–Episodes of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures were filmed here.