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Las Vegas and Nevada Travel Column

Nelson, NV and the Techatticup Mine

A Short Drive to the Past



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So, what makes a ghost town a ghost town? Well, according to Webster's Dictionary it's “a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of exhaustion of some natural resource”.

That definition certainly partially describes Nelson, Nevada located just 40 minutes southwest of Las Vegas. Although nearly deserted by humans, Nelson and the neighboring Tecchatticup Mine are said to have ghostly residents. So, whether you're looking to explore historical sites or haunted places, Nelson, Nevada is an easy half-day excursion worth adding to your itinerary.

From Las Vegas, head toward Boulder City on 95 South. Just before entering the town of Boulder City, take the exit on the right that continues on 95 South toward Searchlight, Nevada, another town worth exploring. You won't be on the highway long before you come upon a road marked 165 towards Nelson. The turn is also marked with a State Centennial Marker for ease of recognition. The road will lead you through El Dorado Canyon. It is a narrow 2-lane road that winds around the hilly canyon to Nelson, Nevada. (MAP to Nelson NV and Techatticup Mine)

The area was originally home to the Pueblo Indians and later the Paiutes and Mojave. In 1775, the Spaniards invaded the canyon and established a settlement they would call Eldorado. They were not highly successful in their quest for gold and abandoned operations leaving behind what was to become one of the earliest and richest mining operations in Nevada Territory.


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In the mid-1800's, the Techatticup and Queen City mines were discovered. The owner was none other than a prominent California politician named George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst. News of the find spread and the area become home to many including Civil War deserters and gunfighters who were eager to strike it rich. Lawlessness was rampant with murder the popular way to settle claim disputes. The closest sheriff was based in Pioche, Nevada, a town 200 miles away. It would take the sheriff a week to make his way to Eldorado to investigate. With no lawmen readily present, vigilantism became the law of the land. Federal troops were eventually brought in by steamboat and set up camp. Their purpose, to protect the steamboat traffic on the river, deter the local Indian population from raiding the camps and stop the bloodshed among the miners themselves.

The mines remained active until the 1940's yielding millions of dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead. Since then, the area has evolved and the once notorious town has become a perfect setting for movie makers, a destination for history buffs, a backdrop for photographers, a popular location for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Tours of the famous Techatticup Mine are offered by proprietors Tony and Bobbie Werly. The tour and the mine are rich in history, ghostly sightings, and outdoor adventure. The Werlys took ownership of the 50 acres in 1994. They have been working on restoring the area so that Eldorado Canyon can be felt and enjoyed for years to come. For mine tour information, visit www.eldoradocanyonminetours.com. For more information about this and other popular Nevada attractions, visit www.travelnevada.com.


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