Mr. Sun’s Almanac:

Belmont: A living ghost town


Matt Hufman

A house in Belmont shown on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.


Population: A handful year-round

Location:About 45 miles north of Tonopah.

GPS: 38.596044°, -116.874244°

Elevation: 7,433 feet

Belmont has a colorful history and is a true Nevada town. Silver was discovered in 1865 and two years later, Belmont was bustling and named the seat of Nye County. In 1876, the red brick Belmont Courthouse opened. (Rancher Jim Butler, who would discover high-quality silver in Tonopah, once served as the prosecuting attorney in Belmont, even though he wasn’t a lawyer.)

But the boom didn’t last too long. After an initial rush, there was an ebb and flow of work in the mines before they were shut down two decades after the initial find. In 1905, the county seat moved south to the new boomtown of Tonopah.

The town was left to dwindle. The courthouse fell into disrepair – a wall was broken to pull out jail cells, which were taken to Gabbs. (They were returned decades later in the early 1990s — and left outside.)

The courthouse and the town are designated as historic places, which means, in a nutshell, don’t take anything, don’t harm anything. Vandals have previously inflicted damage to buildings in the town. Age and neclect have hurt the courthouse. The non-profit Friends of the Belmont Courthouse has been working for several years to restore the building. It’s a good effort, but there is still much work to be done.

Future:There are only a handful of residents year-round. In the past, there were times there was a single person, if anyone, in what’s nearly a ghost town. Many people have fallen in love with the area, and there’s reason for that. There’s outdoor recreation – hunting, camping, hiking and fishing – and the courthouse is a draw. But don’t expect a boom any time soon.

Remember: I was told there are two basic rules: Don’t take any of the ghost town’s remains (though feel free to look and enjoy), and no camping. (There’s camping nearby.) … Also, it’s at elevation, so take that into account – extra water, pace yourself, use sunscreen, etc.

If you go:

Make sure you check to see what’s open and available before you go. There are a handful of year-round residents, so something may be closed on the day you want to arrive.

As of this writing, there’s the Belmont Inn and Saloon, a bed-and-breakfast, Dirty Dick’s Saloon and Sticks and Stones, a “high desert boutique” in town.

There’s no gas or groceries here, so plan ahead.

On the web:

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pine Creek Campground is about 20 miles north of Belmont. There are 10 spots. Reservations are not taken. There’s hiking and fishing nearby.

The Belmont Inn and Saloon is being renovated. Check out the website and Facebook page for details and availability.

Dirty Dick’s Saloon can be found on Facebook.

Sticks and Stones sells jewelry, art, knives and a range of souvenirs, some with the town’s name on them.

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