It ain't pretty being easy... (soopageek) wrote,
It ain't pretty being easy...

My adventure in Goldfield: Part 1

According to the minimal research I've done on Goldfield, like many of Nevada's towns, it was founded during a mining boom in the late 19th century.  As the town's name might suggest, the mineral of interest in the hills was gold.  A lot of modern-day prospecting and mining operations still exists there today, but the town itself is just a shadow of its former self.  At one time, Goldfield was a desert oasis, with a permanent population in the thousands and an assortment of casinos, saloons, and brothels.  Its main attraction, as we shall see, was the Goldfield Hotel; once the finest hotel between Denver and the California coast.

U.S. 95 runs through the center of town, providing some tourist commerce for the community in the form of Winnebago Warriors and the Clark Griswolds of our social fabric. There are still signs of life in Goldfield, with a couple hundred permanent residents in the area.  In fact, Goldfield still serves as the county-seat for Esmerelda County.  High atop the faux battlements of its castle-like architecture, the county courthouse proclaims its establishment in 1907.

Inside, the courthouse has been carefully renovated and meticulously maintained.  Various civil clerks, notaries, and treasurers busy themselves in its offices.  While sparse, there are ample signs of modern office tools like electric typewriters and computers.  They, however, are sitting on antique counters and desks and its apparent that while these conveniences of the late 20th century might exist, most of the town's public record still exists on paper.  And apparently, a good deal of the current.  While trying to obtain the address of the owner of the Goldfield Hotel, the clerk first tried to access it on a computer and then print it for me, to no avail.  She eventually had to retrieve it manually and write it down for me.

The second floor of the courthouse is beautiful with a wrought-iron skylight at one end and two, gorgeous windows at the other, filling the hallways with natural light.  The carpeting was low-pile and decidedly utilitarian, but the corridor was filled with remnants of yesteryear, mostly early-mid 20th century office furnitue:  desks and chairs, benches, mailboxes and what appeared to be a fully-functional fire hose mounted to the wall on a wheel.

As mentioned, I had recently begun discovering various features and settings for my fancy camera.  Besides basic things like aperature and shutter speed, I can also choose to shoot in black and white on the spot, rather than having to manipulate the color later with Photoshop.  I began playing with this feature some while in Goldfield, as opportunities presented themselves which I thought would be more appropriate in black and white.  I mention this now, for the next photo is one of these such photos.  At the end of the hallway by the windows in the courthouse was an old clerk's counter which had been moved into the hallway and beside it was an old bureau.  On both of these furnishings sat musty, old ledgers gathering dust.  An old desk sat beside them along the wall with a manual typewriter resting on it.

Across the street from the courthouse was a fire station that had also been restored.  You'll note that it is "Fire Station No. 1".  I think its unlikely there has ever been a "Fire Station No. 2", so I find it amusing the need to specify this as the first fire station.  You should also note the crooked lantern on the right side of the door - it seems so out of place on an otherwise symmetrical facade.

Along the left-side of the building are a couple of park benches and an ornate lamp post.  Also restored here is the station's call box, a small post outside the building with a fire alarm built into it which could be used by the public to awake the firefighters at night I presume, in the age before 911 and telephones.  Also present was a restored fire truck, which looks to be from around the '20s-'30's.

It's engine No. 3, or actually, it appears this was a ladder truck. This makes me wonder if it was indeed part of multiple-engine fire-fighting unit at one time.  Or perhaps all of the station's equipment was numbered?  Like, the house itself was No. 1, the tank/engine was No. 2 and the ladder truck No. 3?

This, however, ended the fully-restored section of Goldfield's municipal buildings.  But I guess two out of three isn't bad.  The municipal high school sat in complete disarray down the block from the courthouse.  It was fenced-off and in an arrested state of restoration.  The windows were boarded-up and broken-out, but signs of fairly recent drywall work was evident.

Aside from the municipal buildings and the business district, which we shall visit momentarily, most of Goldfield is comprised of residential structures representing various stages of Goldfield's rise and fall. These structures are strewn along Goldfield's dirt roads and alleys, a mixture of turn of the century shacks and sheds...

...mid-western style farmhouses...

...brick, gothic homes of a more urban style....

..and, what comprises the bulk of Nevada's current rural populace: 70's-era mobile homes with satellite dishes and pick-up trucks.

Like the residential area, the business district yields the same sort of mixture.  Goldfield's business district comprises a two-three block area along one street which is evenly dissected by U.S. 95 and is situated about one block from the municipal buildings.  On the northen side of the highway, a handful of restaurants and saloons still operate for the use of locals and passers-by.  It also is the location of the old bank building, which at one time housed a telelgraph office and various business offices and store fronts.  The entrance to the bank is situated on the north-western corner and has since been converted into a lawyer's office.

Diagonally across the intersection on the corner sits what appears to be an old mercantile or general store.  It has the appearance and features of a warehouse, with a few store fronts built-in at street level.

On the southern side of the highway sits the hotel and across the street from it, an old garage.

The garage is one of several along or near the highway that serve as reminders of our pre-interstate heritage.  You see lots of these old buildings when you drive the old U.S. Highways around the country: old motor lodges, garages/filling stations, and diners litter America's two-lane highways in varying states of abandonment, restoration, and revival.  As you can see from the photo above, the Brown Parker Automobile Co. does little more these days than serve as a make-shift billboard for the Gloryhole Gift Shop which sits just on the other side of it.  Incidentally, I'm amazed that no one on my f-list seems to know what a gloryhole is and why this is an absurd name for a "gift shop".

Most of the buildings of this type, though, were actually out on the main highway. 

As for the Hotel.  Well, you'll just have to wait.  I'm dedicating an entire journal entry to the Hotel and my walk around its premises.  But, as to not let you totally down, I will offer one more photo.  It's the last photo I took as I was leaving Goldfield.  It's of the old mission; only its arch remains.  In the background, you can clearly see the Hotel with Brown Parker's across the street.  This photo also contains something else to which I'm devoting an entire entry; one which I shall also cross-post to found_objects.  If it's anywhere near as successful as the Nevada Shoe Tree entry I did, I'm prepared for it this time.  They can't TOUCH my bandwidth now.  Muwahahahaha.

Tags: photo, travel
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