Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada

I’m starting to get this thing for photographing ghost towns.

While staying in Beatty, Nevada, to visit Death Valley National Park, I heard there was a ghost town nearby known as Rhyolite Ghost Town. After my experience in a ghost town called Terlingua in Texas last year, I was excited to visit and photograph another ghost town and see what kinds of images I could make at this one.

Rhylote Ghost Town, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell
Please click the images to view larger versions.

Rhyolite, Nevada, is an old gold mining town in the Bullfrog Hills near Death Valley. In the early 1900’s prospectors discovered gold and within two weeks the population went from a handful to 1,200. The gold rush brought up to five thousand miners and within a few years there was electricity, running water, telephones, a school and rail transport.

Rhylote Ghost Town, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell

But the rush didn’t last long. The mine started running out of ore around the same time as the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 which interrupted rail service. Then the New York Stock Exchange fell in 1907 which restricted funding for more development. By 1920 the place was almost deserted.

Rhylote Ghost Town, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell

As you can see, I went a little crazy with the processing on these. Every once in awhile I get the urge to super process my images and try to create something special. But processing alone never works. Unique images always start in camera with the use of composition and techniques that enable the photographer to convey mood and emotion in an image. That’s the first step.

If you can achieve that, then you can take it a step further if you want by employing various processing techniques. But the processing techniques will never “fix” a bad image. You have to start with a good image in the first place.

Two of these images are high dynamic range (the last one is not) and then I further processed them using Nik Color Efex to adjust tonal contrast and finally I used one of Trey’s Lightroom presets which added the dramatic colour.

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    • says

      Thank you so much Toad, that really means a lot to me. I would like to go back and dig into the stories a bit more next time. It’s an interesting place. I didn’t know that much about it until after the visit.

  1. says

    Hello Anne. Sorry but I am not a fan of H/D or over processing. Maybe I would have rather tried “Monochrome” on the old Truck or maybe not.

    Went to an old “Ghost Town” myself and there was an old “Hotel” that was still open and serving meals and beer. There were three “Mining Company” Pick-up trucks parked out front with all their safety stripes and Hi-Vis colours so that didn’t work. Blue plastic covers seemed to be somewhere in every shot we call them “Tarps” but I don’t know what you call them so just didn’t quite work out and there seemed to be old “Shipping Containers” in almost every house yard as well.
    Sorry but I must go out on the town wearing nothing but a smile too. Ciao.

  2. says

    There are a lot of ghost towns across the state. Living in SoCal, you come across quite a few driving to Nevada. Great subjects. What was that HD&LD Porter facade you captured. Might have composed it quite differently.

    • says

      Hi Nicholas, I have been to a couple of the ghost towns, but I would like to visit more, they are such interesting subjects. I’m not sure what that particular buildings used to be. Thanks for your comments.


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