The mining town of Goldfield was founded in 1902, and within a few short years it was the largest city in Nevada. At its height, Goldfield boasted a population of 30,000, three newspapers, five banks, a mining stock exchange, and what was most likely the longest bar in any mining town – Tex Rickard’s Northern Saloon, which required 80 bartenders to handle its customers. Rickard’s old Victorian house is still standing, and you may recognize his name as the man who built the original Madison Square Garden in New York City and the mastermind behind the famous Nelson-Gans prize fight in Goldfield in 1906.
Wealthy gold mines funded it all, but just eight years after the town was founded, the ore ran out and the population dwindled to roughly 1,500 people.
Today, a tour of the historic town of Goldfield offers a glimpse into the rich history of the West. The courthouse in Goldfield, which still remains the Esmeralda County seat, has been in regular use since its grand opening in 1908. The elaborate building, constructed of native sandstone, was one of the most intricate buildings of its time and still features the original Tiffany lamps. Just beyond the courthouse is the original jail with three levels of metal cells. Other historic buildings include the Santa Fe Saloon, built in 1905, and the Goldfield High School.
But it’s the historic – and reportedly haunted – Goldfield Hotel that really stands out among the rest. The hotel opened in 1908 as possibly the most luxurious hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. The stone-and-brick building was equipped with telephones, electricity and a heating system, and was decorated with rich mahogany, black leather, gold-leaf and crystal chandeliers.
Soon after opening, mining magnate George Wingfield bought the hotel and is said to still haunt the halls of the old hotel. His signature cigar smoke can often be smelled in his room, emanating from fresh ashes. Other reported ghosts include Wingfield’s mistress and illegitimate child, two guests who committed suicide in the hotel, two children and a little person who are said to pull pranks on visitors, and “The Stabber” who is said to “attack” people with a knife, although his ghostly attacks cause more fear than harm.
Whether the ghosts are real or not, many people have attested to feeling strange presences in the hotel, and in Room 109 cameras mysteriously stop working and the room becomes intensely cold. The hotel has been featured in TV shows and documentaries on haunted places, and more than one psychic has named it a gateway to another world.