In a state with more than 600 ghost towns—a place with more ghost towns than any other state in the U.S., by the way—Delamar manages to stand out, thanks to its wildly lucrative and deadly mining history. Out producing the entire state of Nevada in gold mining efforts, Delamar Ghost Town is admired by ghost town hounds near and far thanks to its spot in the Nevada history books, and impressive frozen-in-time structures. As one of the more famous southern Nevada ghost towns, Delamar’s gold mines produced $13.5 million between 1895 to 1900, making it a proper boomtown with more than 3,000 residents.
Gold was first discovered in the Delamar Mountains in 1889, which led to the development of Helene—a small mining camp with only a few prospectors. After a discovery of pure, gold-laden quartzite brought in $500-per-ton Helene’s fate was forever changed, attracting hundreds of miners to the otherwise quiet agricultural communities in the region. It wasn’t long before a man by the name of John De Lamar got a hold of small individual claims already made in Helene, uniting them into the Delamar town site and mining district.
By 1897, Delamar was the place to be, drawing thousands of residents to support a hospital, opera house, churches, a school, and countless shops, stores, and saloons. Most structures in town were stone masoned with native rock—many of which still stand in this historic townsite today. Outproducing other famous gold mines of the time—think Rhyolite and Manhattan, combined—Delamar was cranking out 260 tons of ore daily. Though unimaginably profitable, Delamar quickly became known as the “widowmaker” because when the gold was crushed and processed, it created a toxic silica dust. When miners working in the mines and mills breathed it in, they would quickly develop silicosis, meeting untimely deaths.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Like most of the Nevada ghost town greats, Delamar was mostly destroyed by fire in 1900. De Lamar sold most of his mining claims, and though a new owner took over and immediately resumed mining efforts, most profits had already been reaped and the majority of the population moved on to more lucrative endeavors. Just a few short years later, most mining efforts were completely shut down and closed in 1909.
A visit to Delamar Ghost Town today promises the exploration of countless stone structures that have survived the Mojave Desert elements for more than 100 years. Many foundations and entire structures can be seen—made from native rock that makes it different than most all other Nevada ghost towns—along with two historic cemeteries and mill sites.
Getting There and Info to Know Before You Go
Delamar Ghost Town lies nearly 150 miles (or about 2.5 hours) northeast of Las Vegas, nearest the southeastern community of Caliente. When you’re cruising the Great Basin Highway, Delamar makes for an excellent ghost town pit stop, since it’s situated a quick 30 minutes off Hwy 93. To get there, follow the Great Basin Highway about 30 miles past Alamo. You’ll see a blue, Nevada-shaped historic marker detailing Delamar’s history on the right (or south) side of the road with a narrow dirt road leading to Delamar. Follow this unmaintained dirt road about 14 miles to Delamar’s Ghost Town.
When traveling Nevada backroads, be sure to live by the Dirt Road Code by traveling with 4×4 access and a spare tire. Carry plenty of snacks and water, be sure to let someone know where you’re headed and when you plan to return, and practice Leave No Trace methods whenever possible. That, and there is only one way safe way to deal with historic mine sites—stay out, stay alive. From shaky timber, cave-ins, dangerous air quality and old explosives, exploring in and around old mining sites is extremely unsafe. Do not attempt to enter old mine shafts or adits when exploring Nevada ghost towns.
Delamar Ghost Town is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only thing preventing you from accessing Delamar Ghost Town would be a seasonal, weather-related road closure. For more information on Delamar Ghost Town, and to check road conditions before heading to this historic townsite, get in touch with the Nevada BLM Caliente Field Office at (775) 726-8100.
Delamar Ghost Town is protected by the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM), making free public access available to all.