Another ghost town story: It had 50 buildings by 1867, of which 20 were whiskey shops or bars

Petar Djajkovski
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This town got its name from the French immigrants looking for gold. In French, Beaumont means “Beautiful Mountain” (beau – beautiful and mont, short for montagne, which means a mountain). It all began in 1865 when a prospector from Mexico discovered a big silver vein up in the Toquima Mountains.

As a bonus to the silver finds there were also copper, lead, and antimony minerals extracted from the Belmont soil. Before the name Belmont got stuck, there were several different names ringing around the town. It was known as The Philadelphia, Silver Bend, The Transylvania, and at last, Belmont.

Sign at the entrance to Belmont, Nevada – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

The town of Belmont blossomed by 1867. It’s population reached more than 4,000 inhabitants, plus visitors and travelers. All kinds of people from many different nations arrived from every direction. Miners, merchants, mine managers, saloon owners, bankers, prospectors, etc. They all came rushing, as they always did whenever a silver strike was made. Soon after, wooden western style desert buildings were raised and the opening of the mine shafts was official. What followed was the opening of the school, the bank, merchant shops, two churches, post office with a telegraph service, and two local newspapers competing for the prime news about big finds. Their names were: Silver Bend Reporter and Mountain Champion.

Ruins in Belmont, Nevada – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

Reports say that the town of Belmont had 50 buildings by 1867, of which 20 were whiskey shops or bars. The next year one of the brick buildings in the town became the Nye County government building. It was decided later that the building was inadequate for this purpose, but by the time a new one was built in 1876, silver prices had dropped and the rate of ore extraction fell.

Remaining ruins of buildings in Belmont, Nevada – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

The mines struggled for several years as prices fluctuated. The number of new strikes also bottomed out and by 1886-7, the mines were tapped out. The town of Belmont was swiftly abandoned by its inhabitants. Only about 150 of them remained and most of them because they couldn’t leave due the nature of their job, including government officials, and we all know things adapt and change with a slow nature in that department.

Belmont Courthouse in Belmont, Nevada viewed from the east – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

Most of the miners were familiar with the gold rush way of life, and those who weren’t were bound to find out more about it. A town was booming and producing silver and gold, or any valuable ore, only for a short while. Those of them who were very lucky might be able to buy a piece of land with the money and retire. However, most of them would just dig the earth until the treasure dried up, then just move on up to the next headliner town, the next big boomer, their next big hope. Most of the prospectors from Belmont moved to the growing town of Tonopah in 1903.

Old equipment in Belmont, Nevada – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

Old vehicles in Belmont, Nevada – Author: Famartin – CC BY-SA 4.0

Some of the original Belmont buildings can be still seen today. The courthouse is in good shape, both its exterior and interior, and the Monitor-Belmont Mill is also still standing. The old atmosphere of the Cosmopolitan Saloon can still be sensed and seen with the right kind of eyes. Some of the old buildings are undergoing restoration and preservation, including the old Mill and Mine Combination Office, the Belmont Courier Newspaper office building, and Philadelphia House, which was a lodging house back in the 1880s. This building also went by the name of Belmont Inn and Belmont Saloon, and sometimes even as Monitor Inn. It most definitely was the building with the most names inside the town of Belmont.

Canfield’s Mill, Belmont, Nevada, 1 January 1871.

Most of the restoration of the town is done by volunteers. “Friends of the Belmont Courthouse” take care of and look after the Belmont Courthouse today. They moved it from Belmont Courthouse State Historical Park to the county of Nye back in 2002. The building is fully restored and still used for certain functions.