Exploring The Ghost Town of Rhyolite
Located in the Bullfrog Hills, Nevada, Rhyolite is a ghost town which came into existence as the result of a gold rush that began in 1904.Rhyolite had its peak population from 1905 to 1910, when decreased gold production led to a decline that culminated in its abandonment by 1919.
Rhyolite has a number of crumbling, old buildings. But before you reach them, you’ll probably be distracted by a collection of odd outdoor art projects.
Perhaps Rhyolite’s most distinctive art exhibit is this re-creation of Jesus’ Last Supper.The sculpture was created in 1984 by Poland-born Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski, based on the famous Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece.But instead of disciples wearing white robes, this version features only the white robes.
Although his Last Supper was built decades before the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, his ghostly white forms resemble the dark “Ringwraiths” in those films.He made the figures by wrapping live models in plaster-soaked fabric to achieve his Apostle o’ Shrouds effect.
Beside the last supper sculpture there’s a two-story-tall silhouette of a miner, and his penguin.This sculpture pays homage to the fact that, in Rhyolite, it was customary for the miners to keep penguins as pets.
Although Rhyolite is a religious town, a strikingly different sculpture stands slightly up the hill and across a wash from the Last Supper. It’s a 25-foot tall cinder block woman titled “Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada,” built by Belgian artist Dr. Hugo Heyrman.The Lady’s yellow hair and pink skin are garishly eye-capturing in this land of brown and gray.Dr. Hugo says the pixels used in his electronic 2D art inspired him to pixelize a nude woman in cinder blocks.
December 14, 1906 at 7:00pm the first train pulled into Rhyolite station from Las Vegas carrying more than 100 people. (45 of them were from Los Angeles) Six years later, the town was abandoned when the mines played out. In its heyday, the town boasted over 3500 citizens. The railroad tracks now removed, ran on the opposite side of the bldg.
The highlight of Rhyolite is Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, made of 30,000 bottles by a prospector who used the only building material available. It took him six months to build in the winter of 1905-06, and was abandoned with the rest of the town when the gold ran out in 1912. It lived on as a desert landmark and was featured on vintage vellum postcards.
Preservationists rebuilt the Bottle House in the summer of 2005. It now stands behind a locked fence, along with a miniature bottle village that was also Kelly’s work.
And finally here is some photos from Rhyolite’s abandoned buildings: