Bolstering the spirit of the Silver State, all kinds of mighty prosperous boomtowns thrived along the southern edge of Mineral County during the late 1800s—Marietta included. After silver, borax and salt mining were discovered in the region, Candelaria, Belleville, Rhodes and Marietta popped up almost overnight, and for a time, were the county’s largest communities and home to thousands of people. Situated within minutes of the Free-Range Art Highway, or US Highway 95, make certain Marietta Ghost Town is part of your Silver State discoveries—ghost town lover, or not.
Unlike other neighboring boomtowns in the area, Marietta swiftly secured its spot on the map as a salt mine, whose profits were used to help process silver and gold ore in Virginia City, Aurora and Bodie. And being a salt miner? That was different—and in a lot of ways, more tedious—than mining mineral-rich ore across the state. This meant setting up processing plants near Teels Marsh, a mostly evaporated alkali flat, where workers would scrape the marshy surface to extract the salt. Salt mining was Marietta’s main prospecting revenue stream, but well-known prospector F.M. “Borax” Smith helped initiate borax mining in Marietta later on, too.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
By 1877, Marietta was a new home to several hundred people with all kinds of saloons, general stores and mercantiles, and an official post office. Most of the other towns in this mining district had some type of law, order, and refinement while Marietta did not. Despite its relatively small size, it was the most isolated of the camps in the area which made it an easy target for robberies, and all-around lawlessness. A mining camp made up of mostly rowdy, male bachelors, the stage service running to and from Marietta was robbed 30 times alone in 1880—even four times in one little ol’ week. With way more lucrative borax mining to the south in what would become Death Valley, most of Marietta was abandoned entirely by the early 1900s.
Today, all kinds of stone and adobe structures original to the Marietta story can be found minutes from the Free-Range Art Highway. While modern day mining has resumed, the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM) started managing the area, called the Wild Burro Range after about 85 burros who live in and around Marietta’s ruins.
Getting There and Info to Know Before You Go
Marietta Ghost Town is situated in central Nevada, southeast of Hawthorne. From Hawthorne follow US Highway 95 south for 57 miles. Once you’ve passed Luning and Mina, make a right on State Route 360. From the 95 and 360 junction, continue down Highway 360 for about 5 miles, then make a right onto a dirt road leading the final 10 miles to Marietta. Accessing this Nevada ghost town requires 4×4 clearance and the ability to navigate with a paper map in remote conditions without cell service.
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 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 any Nevada ghost towns.
Marietta Ghost Town is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only thing preventing you from accessing Poinsettia would be a seasonal, weather-related closure. For more information on Marietta Ghost Town, and to check conditions for heading to this historic townsite, get in touch with Visit Mineral County directly at (775) 945-5854.
No admission is required to access Marietta Ghost Town.