We get it, walking around a cemetery might not sound like the number one to do on your trip to Nevada. But, hear us when we say the Goldfield Cemetery chock full of some of the most interesting history in Nevada, completely worthy of a lookie loo.
Goldfield has been reduced to a few open businesses in present day, but hear us when we say that this used to be one of the largest mining communities in the Western United States. After all, it wasn’t called the Last Great Gold Camp for no reason. True to Nevada fashion, most of the old boomtowns were lost to accidental fire, but Goldfield had it particularly bad after suffering not only a few fires but also a flood, stripping this endlessly interesting area of its once-flourishing businesses. So, understand that while it might appear like much was going on here, believe us, there so was.
In fact, it was such a happening place that it drew in famed westerners like Virgil and Wyatt Earp. Gold mining was so lucrative that it was one of the first places that miners actually went to measures like hollowing out boot heels and axe picks to bamboozle their own lode in secrecy. The Goldfield Hotel was rumored to have flooded the lobby steps with champagne during its grand opening, the county courthouse had [and still has] Tiffany lamps adorning the walls, and the Goldfield high school was one of the first in the area to have lavish amenities like heating and drinking fountains.
THE GOLDFIELD CEMETERY TODAY
So, what goes along with a serious boomtown? An endlessly interesting cemetery, of course. Goldfield’s cemetery was originally located in the center of town, but as the population and infrastructure swelled to accommodate 20,000 people and the railroad came to town, they needed to relocate the local burial ground. The railroad company didn’t want passengers stepping off the train and onto graves, and the city didn’t want graves near its largest hotel, so a group of men assembled to relocate the remains. Known as the “Official Ghouls,” this group of men unearthed the remains in the middle of the night, moving them to the modern day site on the edge of town.
Today, the cemetery connects out-of-town residents to ancestors buried in Goldfield; One family even made the trip from Pennsylvania to replace their great grandfather’s headstone. For people who aren’t directly connected to Goldfield’s rich history, there are plenty of noteworthy graves to check out. Take note of the historical grave markers that have inscriptions alluding to cause of death, like, “Gunshot,” or even “Man Died Eating Library Paste.” Interestingly, Virgil Earp was once buried here, but his body was later exhumed and relocated to California.
For a more in-depth look at some of the interesting stories associated with the people buried here, visit Goldfield Historical Society’s website.
Visitors should be respectful in any case, but it’s important to note that the cemetery is still being used as Goldfield’s modern-day burial ground. The historical section can be accessed all the way to the back on the left. The large white stones, used as grave markers, make the plot easy to locate.