Peaceful Nelson, Nevada, offers visitors a step back in time to the vibrant mining days of Nevada, the Silver State, an escape from daily life.
This ghost town is off the beaten path, and while standing among its historic buildings one would not think they were just a 45-minute drive from the bright lights of Las Vegas. Those traveling from Vegas on Route 95 will also pass Eldorado Canyon and “the monument,” Nevada Historical Marker 9.
After an enjoyable ride through the valley travelers will come upon several original buildings from the 1700s. Originally, Nelson was called Eldorado, named by the Spaniards. They were the first to find gold in the mountains. About 100 years later the miners and prospectors developed the Techatticup Mine, which stands today in Nelson. The mine has a clouded reputation of killings that resulted from labor and management disputes. However, in 1861 the mine was considered to be the most important in the canyon as it produced millions of dollars of gold ore. The mine, a short distance from the Colorado River, was served by steamboats. The name Techatticup came from two Paiute words meaning “hungry” and “bread.”
This now ghost of a town produced millions of dollars of copper, silver and gold until the mine closed in 1945.
Today mine tours are offered by stopping at the General Store in Nelson to sign up for the Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours. The buildings offer a historic tour of collectables from the area. Canoe and kayak rentals are available for those wanting to take an adventure on the beautiful Colorado River.
Inside the General Store is a small museum with pictures and information on the filming that takes place at Nelson, along with memorabilia and historic information. All ages will enjoy exploring the museum and walking around outside finding old cars, trucks and airplanes. The planes were used as props for the movie “3,000 Miles to Graceland.” This ghost town is a popular area for use in movie backdrops, photo shoots and music videos. The National Geographic Channel’s “Brain Games” was filmed in Nelson, as were the movies “Eye of the Beholder” and “Breakdown.”
Do not get your hopes up when you travel downhill and see the Texaco sign standing tall among the historic buildings of Nelson. It is also historic. There is not a gas station or place to eat here. However, the General Store offers snacks and drinks. Fill your tank before setting out to visit Nelson.
Once you have completed the exploration of Nelson, continue to the end of the road where a spectacular view of the Colorado River awaits. Pack a picnic and find a rock, bring chairs, or sit in the car and enjoy what nature has to offer. Visitors can walk down to the river from this area.
Coming back uphill from the river, continue past the general store and on the left will be a few houses and a dirt road, Main Street. Turn left and follow it for a desert drive. If it is raining or has recently rained, better go back the way you came. If you are short on gas or time, do not do it! However, if you do continue, it is a climb to the top where big eared jackrabbits might be seen. Keep your camera ready as road runners are fast but you might get a picture, and the burros are much slower — they will pose longer.
The road will take desert adventurers back down to Highway 95. A left turn goes into Searchlight, another mining town which, in its heyday around 1902 was more populated than Las Vegas. Today about 500 residents call this town home.
A few buildings are left from the mining days. Searchlight has modern structures, too — gas stations, places to get a drink and some food, including McDonalds. Las Vegas is one hour from Searchlight and 30 minutes from Laughlin.