Janet Chester Bly – 7 Little Known Facts of Goldfield, Nevada

Goldfield, Nevada of Esmeralda County is most known these days for its haunted hotel and array of original buildings still in good repair. A 20th century boom town, it sprang into existence after a rich gold strike by William Marsh and Harry Stimler (part Shoshone) in December 1902 and mostly died by 1910. Stimler and Marsh were first on the ground after sighting an Indian named Tom Fisherman loaded down with yellow rock. They eventually pressured Fisherman into showing them the place where he found the treasure. A revival of mining soon exploded in Nevada.

Here are seven other random factoids about the fascinating early days of desert ghost town Goldfield, Nevada.

A Town Full of Visionaries

Fantastical mining and business schemes abounded, of course, but also new inventions. Improvements for the mines, such as making building blocks from sagebrush. Brake upgrades for carriages. Charles Chrisman created the “Desert Flyer,” a sixty horsepower auto with no gears. However, efforts to produce the auto failed. Then, there were the various airships concocted by men with names like Beller and Froberg who made daytime and secret night test flights to the entertainment and endless derision of Goldfield citizens.

Death Stats

Alcoholism was either the sole cause or leading factor in more than 5% of deaths, especially in the boom years. In fact, water cost more than whiskey, which provided a story kernel for my late hubby author Stephen Bly’s novel Fool’s Gold, Book 1, Skinners of Goldfield series. In the early days, a bath was the ultimate expensive luxury.

Next, homicide victims were 4%.

Suicides rated 3%.

Unforgiving Environment

Descriptions of the site by newcomers ranged from “hideous” to “too much sky and not enough water” to “the end of the world.” Parmeter Ken in the Goldfield Gossip, 1906 wrote Goldfield had the “worst climate in the world … For three months it scorches the life out of you; freezes and chills you for another three, and blows what’s left of you into dust for the remaining six.”

Hosts of Pests

The desert town was home to its share of rattlesnakes, tarantulas, vinegarones, and bloodsucking flies. However, some considered the lizards the most beautiful they’d ever seen. One young man found them also somewhat palatable. He survived for five days by chewing cacti and lizards until a rescue party found him.

Teachers and Firemen

Both these trades held a unique distinction. They often worked without pay for periods as long as five months at a time.

Womba Women

Only the most vigorous women pulled up stakes with their men to come to Goldfield. One man wrote of his wife: “She is a brave little body and is entirely willing to cast her fortunes with me in Tonopah or Goldfield, and brings the matter up every day.” The ghost town still has about 200-300 hardy living residents and is a popular tourist stop.

The Ladies Aid Society

This group proved to be the civilizers and equal opportunity social movers of this frontier town. They raised money for a building where religious meetings of many different beliefs could take place. The hall also provided concerts, a justice court, as well as boxing matches, and served as an all-purpose recreation center for dances.

(You can find out much more in resources such as Goldfield/The Last Gold rush on the Western Frontier by Sally Zanjani)


Have you ever visited the town of Goldfield or one like it? What was your most compelling impression? Would you ever want to live there? Would love to have you leave a comment below so we can chat and also you can be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of Down Squash Blossom Road — either paperback (USA only) or .pdf for your digital reader.



Janet Chester Bly is the widow of Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids. Janet and their three sons finished Stephen’s last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. Down Squash Blossom Road is Book 2 in the Reba Cahill contemporary western mystery series.

Download 5 free chapters now here:


Book 1 is Wind in the Wires. Find it here: http://www.blybooks.com/books/inspirational-books-novel/

Down Squash Blossom Road

What Secret Lies Down Squash Blossom Road?

Cowgirl Reba Cahill’s schedule is full. Save the family ranch. Free her mom from a mental institute. Take a road trip that includes Goldfield, Nevada. Solve a murder and kidnapping. Evade a stalker. Can she also squeeze in romance?

Reba Cahill focused on the duties of the ranch, along with her widowed grandmother. But a crippled Champ Runcie returns to Road’s End in a wheelchair and seeks revenge for the accident that put him there. He blames Reba’s horse. Meanwhile, a letter from her estranged mom forces her and Grandma Pearl back on the road: I can leave now. Come get me. Love, Mom

When they arrive in Reno, her mother issues a demand and refuses to return to Idaho. They head west instead by way of Goldfield, Nevada. In California, Reba’s friend Ginny’s marriage is on the rocks. The family business is threatened. And squabbles turn deadly.

Reba digs deep to find the courage to forge a relationship with her mom and escape a crazed man’s obsession. She also hopes for a future with a horse trainer who offers her a new horse to replace the one she lost in the accident. But why does he have a photo of a pretty woman on his wall?


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Hauck said of Book 1, Wind in the Wires: “I love your voice! I love the setting…It’s a great story!”


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30 thoughts on “Janet Chester Bly – 7 Little Known Facts of Goldfield, Nevada”

  1. Have been to Nevada, but not Goldfield. Wouldn’t want to live there—-not enough water, and don’t like the critters.

  2. I haven’t been to any place like that. I don’t think I could live there either. I’m too used to everything offered closer to the city.

  3. This is fascinating. I couldn’t live in such an isolated place. I need medical care. I find those towns so interesting and captivating.

  4. I have traveled to various towns in NM which were abandoned and interested me greatly. The history and locale is intriguing. I couldn’t live there though.

  5. When we went on a road trip to Colorado and New Mexico we visited towns which were hidden away and once were mining towns. Madrid, Shakespeare and they were all enthralling. Living there would be impossible.

  6. Hi Janet…..Thank you for coming to visit. Goldfield sounds like a very interesting town and surely made a lot of history. I loved the first hand description of the environment. Too funny! All those deadly pests would make me look elsewhere for a place to live.

    Lots of luck with your new book!

  7. I’ve only been “out west” a couple of times. We did enjoy the town of Tombstone but no real mining towns. (only the coal mines in the east since that’s where I live lol). Your facts are fascinating!

  8. Hi Janet – Thanks for stopping by P&P with all your info about Goldfield. No, I have never them there. Vacationed out West, but not to Nevada. Sounds a little too hot, too cold but not just right….. Your book, DOWN SQUASH BLOSSOM ROAD sounds awesome..your cowgirl, Reba has a lot on her plate. Thanks for a chance to win a print copy.

  9. Reba certainly has a full plate of problems to deal with. DOWN SQUASH BLOSSOM ROAD should be a good read.
    I have never been to or through Goldfield, Nevada. It does sound interesting. Will have to find it on the map and try to swing through on our next trip west. On our last trip out West, we passed through many towns that from the picture above were much smaller than Goldfield. Driving down the main street, when we crossed a side street it was maybe 3 houses long, then nothing but open prairie or desert.
    Thanks for the interesting information.

  10. I’m not sure if I’ve been to Goldfield, NV but if not, it was a very similar town! I spent the summer of 1980 as a Summer Missionary @ Lake Tahoe CA/NV. On the weekends or if we had extra time off, we would take Day Trips & explore the area. I grew up having horses & loving everything about the Old West. I do think the mining towns might have been a little too rustic for me! Our family took a vacation & went to where they made “Paint Your Wagon” & we rode the actual horses that were in the movie!! I’m old enough that Roy Rogers, Matt Dillon & Ben Cartwright were my heroes!! REAL men had hair on their chest & were MANLY MEN! Thanks for this contest!

    • Lisa: Thanks so much for your note! Lake Tahoe is a wonderful place to spend a summer. How interesting you went there as a missionary. My late hubby and I wrote a historical cozy mystery series set in Carson City, just down the road, called the Carson City Chronicles. Wonderful memories of doing on location research for those books! Blessings to you, Janet

  11. Not been to Goldfield. Went to Cripple Creek, CO before it became a casino town. Loved it! I would like to live be in a town like that.

  12. I have not been to Goldfield but have been to several ghost towns in the gold and silver fields of Colorado. We especially like St Elmo and own a few acres nearby with old mining buildings on them. We love the history of these places.

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