For those who have been stricken with gold fever, there really is no cure. The lure of gold led many men out into the old wild west, while the promise of discovering riches beyond belief has left even more men completely destitute. When gold fever strikes, the consequences no longer matter and the countless stories of claim swindling become more like a lure than a warning sign. Tales of lost hidden gold mines and rich mother lode strikes are the only thing on the mind of those whose who are obsessed with obtaining the shiny yellow metal, yet in reality, relatively few ever make more than a meager living when prospecting for gold.
Oddly enough, many of the most famous gold strikes in the old west can be attributed to plain old dumb luck. Such is the case of the discovery of the gold bearing mother lode in Tonopah, Nevada. According to the old historical account, a local prospector was chasing down his escaped mule when he noticed a rock that the mule kicked up looked promising. The rock contained a high percentage of gold ore, so it was assayed and quicker than greased lightning, a mining claim was made. This gold claim turned out to be a major strike and due to the lack of investment capital, the claim was leased by the foot for a percentage of the revenue and the Tonopah gold rush was on! The town of Tonopah soon became a shining spot on the map that drew thousands seeking fortune, just like a moths to a flame.
Tonopah, Nevada soon became one of the wealthiest towns in America and many of the old original buildings from the golden age have survived. The historic town of Tonopah is now a major tourist attraction along U.S. Highway 95. The lavish lifestyle that came along with the untold riches has been preserved in the old historic Mizpah Hotel, which is a place where no expense was spared for luxury.
Tonopah has a very interesting mining history and there are a few mining museums in this city that are well worth checking out. The grandaddy of them all happens to be the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, which is where many of the most famous mines are located. The Tonopah Historic Mining Park covers a vast expanse of land, which is still an active claim. Equipment from every decade of Nevada mining history from the mid 1800s gold rush to the modern age is on display in this open air museum! There are even some items that are rarely seen in old ghost towns anywhere else, like complete hammer mills and early Studebaker Ore Wagons.
Visitors of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park can do a self guided tour of the grounds or they can take the guided tour for a small fee. This Mining Park Museum operates on donation funding, so be sure to drop some spare cash in the box while there. The guided tour option includes going deep underground into the maze of tunnels from the old gold mining days. Some of the mining tunnels extend for over 100 miles in this region, which is an interesting topic in itself. Needless to say, the Tonopah Historic Mining Park offers a complete gold mining history experience and plenty of interesting lessons can be learned!
For those who relish the though of doing a great gold mine tour, the Tonopah Historic Mining Park has probably already been placed high on the proverbial ore bucket destination list! For those who are just starting to get the prospector's itch, there is plenty to see and do in Tonopah, which makes this town the number one stopover point between Las Vegas and Reno on Highway 95. All that it takes to make the trip happen is to come down with a serious case of gold fever!
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