Nelson Nevada Ghost Town: A Journey Through The Wild West
Nelson, Nevada, a fascinating ghost town in the Eldorado Mountains of Clark County, is an extraordinary destination that transports visitors back to the Wild West. Rich in history and mystery, this nearly abandoned mining town offers a unique experience for adventurers, photographers, and history enthusiasts alike.
This article will delve into the intriguing past, present, and future of Nelson, Nevada, Ghost Town.
Nelson, Nevada, a small ghost town in the heart of Eldorado Canyon, is a treasure trove of rich history, picturesque landscapes, and captivating tales of the Wild West. Originally known as Eldorado, this town was once the epicenter of a major gold and silver boom in Nevada.
Today, it serves as a popular tourist attraction that offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the storied past of this nearly abandoned mining town.
With its intriguing history, stunning scenery, and countless photo opportunities, Nelson, Nevada Ghost Town is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore a unique slice of the American West.
Geography and Location
Nelson is located between Las Vegas and Laughlin in the Eldorado Mountains of Clark County, Nevada. The town sits along Nevada State Route 165, about 8 miles southeast of its junction with U.S. Route 95. The picturesque Eldorado Canyon, where the town is nestled, is a striking feature of the region and adds to the allure of this ghost town.
Nelson is approximately 25 miles from Boulder City and 45 miles from Las Vegas, making it easily accessible for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The Early Days
The area now known as Nelson Nevada was first discovered in 1775 by the Spaniards, who initially called it El Dorado, meaning “city of gold.” The Spanish were the first to attempt mining in the area, but they only found silver and eventually abandoned their efforts.
It wasn’t until the late 1850s that American prospectors discovered gold and resumed mining activities in the canyon.
Nelson’s most famous mine, the Techatticup Mine, was established in 1861, and the town quickly became a hub of mining activity. The nearby Colorado River served as a crucial transportation route, and several mining camps and a steamboat landing were established in the region.
Mining Chaos and Violence
During its heyday, Nelson, Nevada was known for its lawlessness and violence. The town attracted a rough cast of characters, including deserters from the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War.
Disputes over mining claims and ownership of the Techatticup Mine often led to brutal violence and murder, with law enforcement rarely appearing due to the town’s remote location.
Despite the chaos and bloodshed, the mines in Nelson produced several million dollars’ worth of gold, silver, copper, and lead. The town’s reputation as a Wild West mining hub whose riches were paid for in blood only added to its allure for fortune-seekers.
Nelson’s Landing, located just five miles east of the town, was a small village on the Colorado River where the river converged with Lake Mohave. The landing served as a crucial transportation hub for the mining community, but it was tragically destroyed in a flash flood on September 14, 1974.
Nine people died, and the entire village was swept into Lake Mohave by a wall of water reportedly 40 feet high.
Visiting Nelson Ghost Town
How to Get There
To reach Nelson Nevada Ghost Town, you will need to rent a car as no public transportation is available to the area. Take Beltway 215 east from Las Vegas towards Boulder City, then merge onto I-11. Take the exit for U.S.-95 and continue past the dry lake bed.
Look for the exit for Nelson on the left side, and follow the road for approximately 15 minutes until you reach the town.
What to See and Do
Upon arriving at Nelson Ghost Town, visitors will be greeted by a mix of crumbling buildings, rusted machinery, and vintage cars that testify to the town’s storied past. The main attraction in Nelson is the Techatticup Mine, which offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into the area’s mining history.
In addition to the mine, visitors can explore the various abandoned structures and relics that dot the landscape, including an old Texaco gas station, weathered barns, and antique gas pumps. The town also features several art installations and sculptures, adding a unique touch to the already captivating scenery.
Nelson Nevada Ghost Town is a photographer’s dream, with its plethora of vintage cars, rusted-out machinery, and weathered buildings providing countless opportunities for stunning shots. The town has also been featured in numerous music videos, video games, and movies, including the 2001 film “3000 Miles to Graceland.”
Visitors must check in at the main office and pay a photography fee ranging from $10 to $20 per hour, depending on whether the photos are for personal or professional use. Wedding photo sessions and commercial shoots may require additional fees and should be arranged in advance with the main office.
The Techatticup Mine, also known as the Eldorado Mine, is Southern Nevada’s oldest and most famous gold mine. The mine operated from 1858 until 1945, with its most prosperous period between 1864 and 1900.
During this time, the mine produced an estimated $10 million worth of ore, making it one of the most successful mining ventures in the state’s history.
The Techatticup Mine now serves as one of Nelson’s biggest tourist attractions, offering guided tours that showcase the mine’s fascinating history and impressive underground workings. Tours are available by reservation and can be made online or by calling 702-291-0026.
The walking tour of the mine is approximately 1/4 mile long and lasts just over an hour. Tours are priced at $15 for adults and $10 for children aged 5-12, with kids under 5 admitted for free. It’s worth noting that the mine can be cool, especially during the winter months, so visitors are advised to bring a jacket for their tour.
Located just 5 miles east of Nelson Ghost Town, Nelson’s Landing is a popular spot for cliff jumping and relaxing by the Colorado River. The landing offers stunning views of the water and serves as a reminder of the tragic flood that destroyed the original village in 1974.
Visitors to Nelson’s Landing can enjoy various activities, including swimming, fishing, picnicking, and exploring the surrounding area’s breathtaking scenery. However, it’s important to exercise caution when cliff jumping, as the activity can be dangerous and is done at your own risk.
While visiting Nelson Nevada Ghost Town, be sure to check out some of the other nearby attractions, including:
- Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon Zipline (24.9 mi north, 35 min)
- Lake Mead (32 mi northeast, 40 min)
- Gold Strike Hot Springs (33.6 mi north, 40 min)
- Hoover Dam (35.9 mi north, 45 min)
- Las Vegas (45.2 mi northwest, 55 min)
- Red Rock Canyon (57.7 mi northwest, 1 hr)
Planning Your Visit
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Nelson, Nevada Ghost Town is during the cooler months, as the desert heat can be intense during the summer. Spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures and beautiful desert blooms, while winter provides a unique opportunity to explore the town’s attractions in a more serene setting.
No hotels near Nelson Ghost Town exist, so visitors must find accommodations in nearby Boulder City or Las Vegas. Both cities offer various lodging options, ranging from budget-friendly motels to luxurious resorts.
When visiting Nelson, Nevada Ghost Town, keeping safety in mind is essential. Be aware of the potential for flash floods, especially during the monsoon season, and exercise caution when exploring the area’s various abandoned structures and mine shafts.
Remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and dress appropriately for the desert climate.
Nelson Nevada Ghost Town offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the rich history of the American West. With its fascinating past, stunning scenery, and countless photo opportunities, this nearly abandoned mining town is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience a piece of Nevada’s storied heritage.
Whether you’re a history buff, an adventurer, or simply seeking a one-of-a-kind experience, Nelson Nevada Ghost Town is sure to leave a lasting impression.