Nevada’s distinct history is borne by the nearly 600 towns that rose and fell before the 1900s even had time to stretch its legs. The gold and silver fever that struck the nation resulted in a clamor that touched nearly every corner of the state. While most towns bore fruit only for short periods, they literally left their mark on the state’s landscape. Many ghost towns may have no residents, but they are still full of stories, if you listen closely.
Oily indigo smoke billowed from a circular opening in the top of a strange beehive shrine, marking the near completion of a process as foreign as the 1800s Nevada frontier had ever seen. Weeks prior, cords of juniper and pinyon were lain into the rocky tomb, set ablaze, and cooked in the oxygen-starved environment, as observant eyes kept watch of the smoke, and attentive hands operated a series of flues. At first, the smoke burned white, then yellow for a couple days, then dark blue, marking the completion of the process. An uninformed Nevada frontiersman who witnessed these makeshift mausoleums may have attributed the colossal bulbous structures to the occult, maybe even gone as far as to believe they were a portal to the underworld.