Seattle to Lake Havasu City Day Four
The tendency is to believe there is nothing between Reno and Las Vegas. However, Goldfield proved us wrong, and in a big way.
"Isn't this the place with the haunted hotel?"
"I think so."
I have driven through Goldfield dozens of times, and it looked intriguing in a sad and broken down way- a town the reflects better days, long ago. Each trip, the cars looked dustier, the buildings more broken down.
We approched Goldfield, and Dad pointed, "I went to that cemetary once. It was pretty interesting." I braked hard and spun the wheel. Why not?
Wow. The dirt road split monuments and markers that covered the barren landscape. We stepped out from the car. The dry wind rattled the metal flagpole- no flag- like a metronome. Approaching a decrepit picket fence, the gate, wired in place, squeaked forlornly. The dates indicated the resting place of a child, not even two years old.
Reading the monuments, it appeared the first 'tenants' checked in around the turn of the century- the other century- and dates randomly moved forward, the most current 2010. Most disturbing was the graves marked with white wooden crosses, and no names. "It's rather sad," Dad shook his head, "that someone would be buried like this, and forgotten." Yet for each one buried here, how many were out in the desert, the victims of mining mishaps?
On those happy notes, we drove on into town and stopped at the courthouse. It was a two story structure, and looked original. We sauntered over to the Chamber of Commerce. Locked. the sign read, 'For tours, contact Linda.'
"May I help you?" A woman startled us from behind. Turning, I saw a white haired woman, with guileless eyes and a sweet smile.
"Are you Linda?"
"No, I'm Virginia."
And so began the adventure.
Virginia was a seventy-eight year old treasure box of information. She lived in Goldfield for forty two years, and had the only tow truck in the county, started the Chamber, had been a commissioner, and owned various properties in the past. Now retired, she spotted us and decided to give us the Grand Tour.
First she took us through the courthouse. Built in 1909, it still operated every day, and held county records from the nineteenth century. She escorted us upstairs to the courtroom. Very traditional, from the judge's bench to the tables for proscution and defense. On the opposite wall hung a painting of a judge.
"See him?" Virginia pointed, then turned back to the bench," I took a group of psycics through here once, and he appeared on the bench, in the judge's seat."
Hmm. I'm really more of a doubter, so I take that with a grain of salt.
The wind moaned through the window in the corner.
I provided my arm to Virginia as we headed down the stairs, with her continually pattering about the amazing history of Goldfield.
It had a population of 30,000 people a hundred years ago, while Las Vegas had around four hundred.
My how things have changed.
"Let's hop in my car and we'll drive around town."
Sure. Why not?
Because this is what Stephen King books look like, that's why not.
Nah. Virginia was a sweet old gal.
We got in her twenty year old Cadillac and cruised the town. There's the entry for a saloon, a conrete monument, nothing else left. A fire erupted and destroyed fifty seven buildings. The place had a one hundred foot bar, the biggest in the United States. There's the newspaper building. The railroad depot. Someone is trying to restore it. That is the last standing brothel. A flood wiped the rest of them out, even the three story one.
Finally, the hotel. The haunted hotel. I asked her about ghosts, spirits lurking in the place.
"There's a couple of them," she stated as she fiddled with the lock. Doves cooed in the ceiling above. We entered into the relic, and it felt like the movie, 'Titanic', where you could just imagine people dressed in suits and frilly dreses, the piano player belting out songs in the corner. Virginia continued her oration. One hundred fifty rooms. Movies made here. Restoration attempts. We walked into the dining area.
"No women were allowed in here," Virginia smiled, "See the stairway? Men went down there to the basement to refresh themselves. There was a barber shop and baths. And there was a three hundred foot tunnel that led to the bordello. The men came up refreshed." Her eyes twinkled at her own joke.
Next, she took us to a room to meet Elizabeth. First, she instructed me to leave my camera behind. She would go first and greet her. "She sometimes doesn't like men."
"Elizabeth?" she introduced herself and told the empty room that two friends were coming in.
We entered the dark room. "Hello, Elizabeth," I said to the empty room. I half felt like a camera crew would come out laughing at the prank. Virginia bent and peered at a vase of yellow daisies. "See the petals move?" I squatted and stared at the flowers. Were they moving? The flora looked like an invisible had was moving back and forth, lightly brushing the petals. Being a doubter, I looked for wires, something, anything that would prove it to be a ruse. Nothing. We talked to Elizabeth for a short while and left. Virigina continued her narration. Someone left the flowers two weeks ago, and they were still fresh. There is another man upstairs, and a woman, too.
Virginia locked the door and shook our hands, declining any money.
She didn't have any agenda. Didn't know we were coming. Does things like that a half dozen times a year or so. Loves what whe does. Is retired, and just putters around Goldfield.
Spirits? Ghosts? I saw the flowers move.
We drove off into the wide expanse of desert, the dust of Goldfield and it's past in our wake.