I invited readers to share their own weird travel tales. Reader Adrianne Roe alerted me to one of her favorite “haunts,” the ghost town of Gold Point, Nevada, which has been lovingly preserved since 1981 by a gentleman named Sheriff Stone. He and a couple of friends bought and began restoring the old post office and other deserted buildings.
Sheriff Stone encourages travelers to “Vacation in the Old West.” He describes accommodations in Gold Point as “rustic on the outside.” A trip to the website confirms this. One can choose from the more “deluxe” Radkie House or opt for one of the four standard cabins, including the perhaps aptly named “House of Payne.” Food is served family style at the Main House, where one can listen to Sheriff Stone spin a colorful yarn or two. Visitors to Gold Point are welcome to browse through Stone’s 115-pound album containing no fewer than 8,000 ghost town photos. Really.
By chance, Adrianne’s note about Gold Point reached me shortly after my family had returned from our spring break trip to the Grand Canyon, which included a blast-from-the-past stop in the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona. Back in the early 1900s, Jerome was proclaimed to be the “wickedest town in the West,” full of gamblers, stagecoach robbers, claim jumpers and such.
By the time my husband Murray and I discovered Jerome in the 1970s, the town had cleaned up quite a bit from its outlaw heyday. Artists and counterculture types had made the town home and opened up a few charming galleries and cafes.
On our visit this year, we found a lot more activity in Jerome, but somehow it seemed much spookier than I remembered -- one could imagine paranormal goings-on without much difficulty. Rickety, witchy looking houses and buildings cling to sheer drop-offs, and there is a seriously strange vibe to the place.
Also note that getting to Jerome is not for the faint of heart. The town is a mile high up in the hills and is reached by a seemingly endless road snaking its way up and up and then up some more. You will, however, be rewarded with fantastic views in addition to the feeling you have stepped onto the set of a horror movie. If you happen to be in the area on the first Saturday of
any month, you can forget about ghosts while you take in the Jerome Art Walk and visit twenty-five galleries and studios. The annual Ghost Walk is scheduled for October 12 and 13 this year for any brave souls out there.
If you aren’t able to follow Adrianne’s recommendation to visit Gold Point or make it out to Jerome this summer, there are plenty of other noteworthy ghost towns west of the Mississippi. Check out Garnet, Montana; South Pass City, Wyoming; St. Elmo, Colorado; Terlingua, Texas or Goldfield, Arizona for a “spirited” taste of American history.
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