Hoping to strike gold in Goldfield
December 14, 2004
Goldfield, in Esmeralda County, is a small stop on Highway 95, almost half way between Reno and Las Vegas. In the early 20th century, Goldfield was one of the largest towns in Nevada. At its peak, about 25,000 people lived there, profiting off the lucrative gold rush. But state Archivist Guy Rocha said even though its population exceeded Reno, it didn’t last long. In 2003, the state demographer listed Goldfield’s population at 439.
Roberts bought the Goldfield Hotel, the town’s most prominent building, for about $360,000 at a tax sale last year. The 100-room hotel will have a coffee shop, gift shop, dining room and casino. Roberts said once completed, the turn-of-the-century hotel will be a “long-weekend get-away from Vegas.”
He also anticipates that the nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain will bring some business to the hotel.
“I think it’ll fly,” he said. “I’m at least going to gamble on it.”
Patty Cafferata, author of the book “The Goldfield Hotel, Gem of the Desert” said many businessmen have tried and failed, but with the right marketing plan, it could work.
She said the largest building in Goldfield was built in 1908, almost at the end of the gold rush, and since then has struggled. Most claims say it was built for $330,000. Prominent miner George Wingfield was one of the owners.
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The hotel’s main floor is granite, and the other three are brick. Cafferata said the building’s structure is in good shape, but it had no plumbing or electricity.
The town population is mostly retirees, families there and in Silver Peak and Fish Lake Valley, county workers and “geologists and mining types, but they come and go.”
Other than the hotel, the county government is centered in Goldfield; then there are the grammar schools and some mining outside of town. But it’s minimal, she said.
“He has a difficult task ahead of him,” Cafferata said. “On the other hand, if you had bus groups coming in, then I think you could make some money.”
About 2,000 cars a day passed through Goldfield in 2003, which is down slightly from previous years, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
– Becky Bosshart