COALDALE - How would you like to own a small Nevada town that includes a store, cafe, gas station and garage, a motel, several mobile homes, an airstrip and a Department of Transportation sand and gravel pit?
If you've got $70,000, Coaldale can be yours, says Ed Ylst, administrator of the SN Trust, which currently owns this community 190 miles southeast of Carson City at the junction of highways 95 and 6.
The person or persons who purchases Coaldale not only will be taking over a place rich in Nevada mining history, but a town also known internationally as the filming site of one of the most popular "biker" motion pictures of all time.
But be warned: Coaldale, which encompasses some 40 acres in north central Esmeralda County, comes with several potential challenges.
Its present population is zero. All of the town's buildings have been vandalized or damaged by fire. And Nevada environmental officials say the land under the gas station and garage is polluted by diesel and gasoline fuels.
Nevertheless, Ylst (pronounced "ailst"), says Coaldale could have a bright and prosperous future if its new owners are far-sighted entrepreneurs willing to spend a few bucks to fix the town up.
Ylst, 56, is a resident of nearby Tonopah, where he works for a pest-control firm and heads the American Independent Party of Nye County. He says Coaldale's "excellent location" at the junction of highways 95 and 6 make it a "prime spot" for the development of a casino, bar and new motel, restaurant, store, gas station and garage.
Coaldale, he adds, also would be a good place for the construction of new homes to serve people "sick and tired of big-city life."
"Lots of people drive through here, going to Reno and Las Vegas and Death Valley. The weather's great, the air is clean, and Coaldale is only a half hour from Tonopah, which has a supermarket and other shopping," he stated.
"There's plenty of water here, electricity is supplied by Sierra Pacific, we've got policing by the sheriff's office and Nevada Highway Patrol, and I think there's still some coal left in the nearby mines that could bring somebody a profit," he added.
Coaldale was named in the 1880s by its founder, William Groezinger, a German prospector who discovered bituminous coal deposits here. The town grew steadily, and soon stores, a post office and station on the Tonopah & Goldfield Railroad were erected.
In the early 1900s, turquoise and agate were discovered, and dozens of mines were opened by prospectors hoping to find gold and silver.
But like so many Nevada communities of that era, Coaldale's fortunes eventually plummeted. The coal, turquoise and agate finds became exhausted, gold and silver never were found, the population began moving elsewhere, the post office closed, and the railroad was shut down.
Neighboring towns built around mining operations also went bust. Communities such as Columbus, Blair, Pickhandle Gulch, Rhodes and Sodaville, which bloomed following the discoveries of silver, borax and large amounts of salt, withered away when their mines were depleted. Tiny Coaldale was the only place to eat, sleep, and gas up in this remote and desolate part of Nevada.
Located east of the Columbus Marsh area and west of the Monte Cristo volcanic mountains, Coaldale and its setting in the barren desert experienced a renaissance of sorts in the mid-1990s when discovered by Hollywood.
This discovery, alas, brought fame, but no fortune.
In 1994, dozens of actors and technicians descended upon Coaldale to film "The Stranger," which starred Kathy Long, at the time the world's female kickboxing champion.
Long played the part of a lusty, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding heroine who saves the town from a terrorizing band of killer bikers. Using her kickboxing skills and a vicious leather whip, she kills one bad guy by tossing a wrench in his mouth, dispatches several others by blowing up their speeding cycles, and eventually drives all the gangsters out of town, to the cheering of its residents.
The film is recognized by cult film enthusiasts as one of the best biker movies ever made. It is favorably compared to "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, "Cycle Savages" with Bruce Dern, "On Any Sunday" with Steve McQueen, "Hellriders" with Tina Louise and Adam West, and "Hell's Angels on Wheels," starring Jack Nicholson.
Meanwhile, 126 years after its founding and 11 years after its role in "The Stranger," Coaldale may be on the threshold of a new life.
"For $70,000, I'll turn over the keys to Coaldale. The town needs fixing up, I admit, but it's got a great future," says Ylst. He can be reached at (775) 482-7750.