The Ghost Town of Nelson
The only route to the ghost town called Nelson is south of Henderson, Nevada, on U.S.Highway 95 past a ten-mile-long dry lake where you can often see motorcycles, quads, and every type of car trying for a personal speed record. Lots of dust is usually blowing out there so I kept my cameras wrapped up and stayed off the playa. To avoid getting stuck in slippery mud, stay off the playa for a few days after a rain. Just south of the playa, a sign on U.S.Highway 95 marks the left turn onto Route 165, the mountainous road to Nelson. In a few miles, you will see the little community of Nelson, off in the distance, as you follow the pavement. The town has a population of around 500. It’s not your destination. Stay on the paved road as it makes a sweeping bend to the east for a few more miles to a ghost town/junk collection in Eldorado Canyon, site of the notorious Techatticup Mine. Avoid the crowds that drive out to this remote location on sunny weekends. This is a midweek destination for the best photography. It’s worth stopping for a few hours if you like old rusty trucks and cars, old gas stations and barns covered with rusting petroleum signs. Small hand-painted signs direct photographers to pay a $10. fee at the General Store if they want admission to off-limit areas and barn interiors. Rusting pickups, Plymouths, Packards, and a large collection of rusty cab-over trucks are scattered everywhere, along with rusting bikes, antique gas pumps and an airplane resting nose-down into the canyon wall. The interior of the General Store is a museum covered wall-to-wall with dust-covered treasures, someone’s vision of the area’s gold mining days of long ago. In the general store, you can sign up for a tour of the gold mine. They also sell snacks and drinks at the store. The large Texaco sign is a rusty relic, no gas is available at Nelson. Gold was discovered here in 1851. Long veins of quartz were blasted out by digging miles of tunnels through hard rock. The ore was ground into fine powder and extracted with cyanide, a slow process producing an ounce of gold from a ton of ore. Gold, worth millions of dollars, was carted down to the river and shipped out of the desert on steamboats. Eldorado Canyon was a hide-out for deserters from both the Union and Confederate armies. The area was lawless and killings were common. Nelson’s Landing was destroyed by a 40-foot-high flash flood down Eldorado Canyon in 1974.
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Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.