Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 | 1:30 p.m.
The Goldfield Hotel is a monument to the mining boom in Central Nevada. Opened in 1908, it is an impressive brick building, and was opulent — plush carpet, thick leather chairs and 150 rooms, including 45 suites with bathrooms.
The dining room, lobby and saloon were paneled in mahogany. Behind the bar, there was a long row of champagne corks from bottles popped on opening night when champagne, according to one account, “ran across the lobby and down the steps.”
Champagne wishes, indeed, eh, Robin?
Nevada wasn’t all wild west. Menus in Tonopah and Goldfield hotels included delicacies — quail and oysters. The Works Progress Administration’s 1940 “Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State” reports: “The elegance of Tonopah was quite out-distanced; parties of all kinds were frequent and lavish.”
At the Goldfield Hotel, men could go into the dining room from the bar, but women had to take another entrance because they weren’t allowed in the saloon. This was, after all, polite society with “stable social circles.”
But the champagne wishes faded long ago. Except for a flock of pigeons (and the requisite rumored ghosts), the hotel remains unoccupied, as it has since the end of World War II. Attempts to restore the hotel have fallen short. And the town, which once boasted a population of 20,000, now has a few hundred people hearty enough to live here. But don’t think that society in Goldfield is dead.
A couple of young men told me about traveling south on U.S. 95 a few years back. They planned to stop at the gas station in Goldfield but spotted a man in the parking lot. He was wearing a tank top, camouflage pants and boots. He was holding something that looked like an AK-47. When the man saw the car, he smiled and waved.
There is, after all, still a polite society.