You are here

Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In June of 1873, owing to a decline in the silver-mining city of Hamilton's population that saw the size of the town fall from over 12,000 to fewer than 4,000 people over just a couple years, the owner of a cigar shop quietly set fire to his store in hopes of collecting the insurance. The fire spread, ultimately destroying or damaging enough buldings in the town business district to cause $600,000 of damage - approximately over $12 million in today's value when adjusted for inflation. Many businesses never repaired or rebuilt. At the same time, many of the miners who had worked the areas surrounding Hamilton discovered that the shallow silver veins meant there was less silver than they had previously hoped.

Soon after this fire, the town's population declined to around 500 people. Following another significant fire in 1885 that destroyed the courthouse and all of the records housed inside, the new records would begin being filed in the town of Ely, which soon took over from Hamilton as the County Seat of White Pine County. Hamilton slid into further decline and lost its post office in 1931, becoming a ghost town remnant of Nevada's silver boom.

At its peak, the town epitomized the boom town phenomenon: Its population exploded from 600 to over 12,000 under two years, and it had over 200 mining companies operating in the area along with a thriving business and recreation district. 

What remains today is a ghost town with several fairly well-preserved buildings and a footprint stretching out along scenic mountainsides. Many stone and brick buildings remain, some with arched doorways and window frames, dominating chimneys, and cavernous interiors. However, Hamilton's high-elevation and snowy winter seasons also have led to a noticeable natural decay of the buildings over the years. 

Reaching the ghost town requires a drive of around 10 miles on a graded dirt road. This road generally stays in good condition and should be passable by passenger vehicles and smaller RVs during the summer and fall; however, wet conditions may cause some serious mud and rutting. 

A cemetery sits alongside the road in from the Illipah Reservoir; there are crumbling headstones and fencing standing in the quiet ghost town air. Buildings within Hamilton tend to be spread out and will require some walking through the sage-graced hillsides to reach. Roads from Hamilton continue deeper into the mountainous terrain but also quickly become more rocky and rough.

Hamilton is one of the better ghost towns in Nevada. It is located off the beaten path and worth a visit for those looking for an alternative to the more touristic ruins. The road is not well-signed, so it is best to have a map or GPS with forks noted before making the drive in.

There are no amenities of any type anywhere along the road or in the ghost town. Nearest groceries and gas are in the towns of Eureka or Ely in either direction along Highway 50.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Numerous building ruins.

Cons

Modern structures exist here, too.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Features

Wildlife
Historically significant
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.