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Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

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Buenos Aires
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Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

Hi,

I read in another post that Death Valley Junction is a ghost town. Is it really? I was planning a longer trip back to LV from DVNP to be able to go to Rhyolite, which I understand is a "real" ghost town. Would it be OK if I skip Rhyolite and just go via DVJ? Would the experience be similar?

Thanks!

Vancouver...
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1. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

No, it is not. Rhyolite is. If you use Google or Bing, you can get more information about each. Chuck...

San Francisco
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2. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

Ghost towns come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. What they all have in common is that they were typically started for a specific reason (gold, oil, rich farmland, etc.) but faded when the reason for their existence was gone. Cities with diverse economic, cultural, and demographic conditions are less likely to become ghost towns, unless some major disaster happens (e.g. Pompeii). Sometimes, a few people stay in a ghost town, even if it has been deserted for years, maybe because they grew up there, or their ancestors were from there, or they just like the historic atmosphere.

Some ghost towns are on public land; Rhyolite is under the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Death Valley Junction is privately owned. Both have a few residents.

DVJ is smaller. It began in the 1920s as a borax company town, and a very few old houses are left. The major building is the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, originally a dormitory for the borax workers with a recreation hall that now houses the theatre. Across the road is an old auto service garage with "Death Valley Junction" on it in faded paint. These buildings are both stucco. Just south of town on Hwy 127 is a desolate graveyard with a fabulous view of the surrounding landscape for the "occupants" to enjoy.

Rhyolite is an early 19th-early 20th century gold mining town. If you've seen historic photos, you know it was a thriving town with many streets full of well-built stone and concrete buildings. A number of them are still there in various conditions. You can see the school, bank, jail, several stores, and an ornate train station. The most unique one is a bottle house. In desert mining camps, wood for big buildings wss scarce, but bottles weren't. Probably more booze and beer were consumed than water! Bottle houses were made of adobe layers with bottles laid sideways, creating a translucent wall that was warm in winter and, perhaps unfortunately, also warm in summer because it magnified the sun and insulated the interior very well. Rhyolite had smaller wooden buildings, mostly homes, but they return to nature sooner than the stone and concrete ones.

One reason Rhyolite grew bigger and more prosperous is because as a gold mining town, it had a lot of financing from San Francisco. One reason it eventually died was the loss of much of this backing after the 1906 S.F. earthquake and fire, when attention and money became focused on the City's recovery. The borax industry in and around Death Valley was always in the hands of smaller, more private interests; the Pacific Coast Borax Company, which built DVJ and later became U.S. Borax, was never a publicly held company, and in its early days was controlled by a very few American and British owners.

A modern addition to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which has weird and fanciful sculptures that you can see anytime.

www.amargosa-opera-house.com/

http://www.rhyolitesite.com/

www.goldwellmuseum.org/

If you have time for one, I would pick Rhyolite because it has more to see. If you can, try to see both, because they are so different. If you're staying at Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek, Rhyolite is about 40 minutes away. Traveling between the park and LV on thje Pahrump route, DVJ is right on the way.

Tucson, Arizona
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3. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

I have heard the rumor that the Amaragosa Opera House does have ghosts! So do not be fooled into believing that what you are seeing is Haloweeners.

ZB

San Francisco
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4. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

Ooops.

** "Rhyolite is an early 19th-early 20th century gold mining town"**

Sorry, I should have said late 19th-early 20th century.

Buenos Aires
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5. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

I can't thank you enough for your extensive replies. Now I have a good understanding of the differences. I think my boy will like Rhyolite better. But we will try to visit both, one on the way into DVNP and the other on our way out.

Mission Viejo...
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6. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

Part of DVJ history hasn't been discussed. That's Marta Beckett, who "found" the town and turned the auditorium into her "opera house" and the dormitories into a hotel. You can stay at the hotel and/or attend performances. Check the Amargosa Opera House website, they are both very unique experiences.

Edited: 01 October 2010, 06:31
7. Re: Is DVJ actually a ghost town?

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