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BELMONT

Nye County, Nevada

by

Gary B. Speck

 

THE FORMER SILVER MINING TOWN OF BELMONT straddles State Highway 82, in the middle of nowhere about an hour drive northeast of Tonopah, in the heart of Nevada.   It consists of a handful of lived-in homes, old miner’s cabins, an active saloon, cemetery, the restored Nye County Courthouse, a collection of mill ruins, and a WONDERFUL main street lined with brick, rock and wooden building ruins, remnants from the town’s boom days.  Our tour will begin at the east end of town, where the tall brick smokestack of the Combination Mill stands proudly on the crown of a hill high above the scrub juniper forest and the brick and rock-walled ruins of the mill and outlying buildings. The mill was built around 1868 and consisted of a forty-stamp battery.  Magnificent ruins of the rock walls remain. The brick-lined door to the explosives bunker still remains in one of the walls.  Just to the west of the mill are several rock-walled cabin ruins that remain of East Belmont.

 

 Off a short distance to the south is the roofless, brick-walled hulk of the Cameron Mill which is frequently and erroneously called the Highbridge Mill (even in GNIS).  It was built from the bricks scavenged from the Combination Mill and was the second of the large mills to operate at this end of town.  Due to the distance from the parking area, I elected not to visit, but to view it from my telephoto lens.  The road to the mill is NOT passable in a passenger car, so either a four-wheel drive or high clearance vehicle is needed, or the visitor must walk the half mile or so.

 

Then there’s the town itself.  Only one word expresses my feelings for this town:  WOW!

 

Belmont is just a hollow shell of a once-booming 1860s-era silver mining town. For 20 years, Belmont was the glowing light in the heart of Nevada, and was home to around 4000 people.  Shortly after the boom began, Belmont vied for and won the county seat honors, displacing Ione in 1867.  A majestic brick courthouse was built to house the county offices and for nearly 40 years it maintained that honor.  In 1905, the upstart 20th Century mining town of Tonopah wrested the county seat from Belmont.  But it was already on the decline, so few protested.

 

During its boom days, Belmont had all the businesses it needed, including the post office (1867-1911 & 1915-1922), boarding houses, brewery, a church, doctors, fire department, drugstore, general stores, livery stable, three newspapers, six ore mills, restaurants, saloons, five sawmills, stage line, telegraph and an undertaker.  There were also a number of fraternal organizations.  One of the most famous buildings in town was the Cosmopolitan Saloon and dance hall. Photos of the ghostly two-story wooden building have graced countless articles and books featuring Belmont, but it unfortunately succumbed to vandals in 1989, and today lies in a large jumble of faded, twisted lumber.

 

By 1887, Belmont passed its boom days after $15 million in silver was wrested from the earth.  A few small mining revivals were attempted, but the ghosts kept on coming.  Then in 1914 a second boom breathed a little life back into Belmont.  The post office reopened and about a million dollars in ore was shipped from the mines.  But, in 1922 it was over, and Belmont once again slipped into a slumber from which it has not recovered.

 

Today’s Belmont shows a little life as newer cabins have been built, a bed & breakfast operates in the old mining company office and Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon is the focal point for the few residents and lots of travelers coming in.  The old church was carted off to nearby Manhattan, and a wooden replacement graces the east side of town overlooking the town site.  The original courthouse still stands as solid and secure as the day it was built, thanks to ongoing restoration efforts.  The jail cells have been returned from a brief stint elsewhere and they hang on the northwest corner of the courthouse.  Main Street is lined with the ruins of the boom with its picturesque rock & brick building shells interspersed with dead wooden structures, some standing, some not.  A smattering of old vehicles ranging from a faded fire truck, well-drilling rig and scattered dead cars and pickups balance out the dead buildings.  At the southern end of town are the old cemetery east of the road, and the ruins of the Monitor-Belmont Mill to the west.

 

Belmont is one of those fabulous old ghost towns that MUST be experienced to believe.  It is what makes this crazy hoppy so enjoyable.

           

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for Nov 2009

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

 

 

SITE NAME

ELEV.

LATITUDE

LONGITUDE

TOWNSHIP/RANGE

Belmont

7424’

38.5960444      38° 35’ 46” N

-116.8742436      116° 52’ 27” W

NW¼ Sec 25, NE¼ Sec 26 T9N, R45E, MDM *  (*Mount Diablo Meridian)

Belmont – Cemetery

7214’

38.5843779      38° 35’ 04” N

-116.8789658      116° 52’ 44” W

NE¼ Sec 35, T9N, R45E, MDM

Belmont – Combination Mill

7244’

38.5885445      38° 35’ 19” N

-116.8578540      116° 51’ 28” W

SE¼ Sec 25,  T9N, R45E, MDM

Belmont – Court House

7392’

38.5957666      38° 35’ 45” N

-116.8761881       116° 52’ 34” W

NE¼ Sec 26 T9N, R45E, MDM

Belmont – Cameron Mill (AKA – Highbridge Mill in error)

7241’

38.5804981      38° 34’ 50” N

-116.8589651       116° 51’ 32” W

NE¼ Sec 36 T9N, R45E, MDM

Belmont – Monitor-Belmont Mill

7241’

38.5899334      38° 35’ 24” N

-116.8814660      116° 52’ 53” W

SCtr Sec 26 T9N, R45E, MDM

 

 

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FIRST POSTED:  September 01, 1998

LAST UPDATED: February 27, 2010

 

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