The rich discovery of silver marked the birth of the Belmont mining camp in 1865. As the town prospered, a more permanent town was built using materials such as brick, mortar and stone from local quarries. Red bricks use to construct the store front of many of the buildings on main street plus the famous Belmont Court House was manufactured from clay discovered four miles west of town.
Main Street was the commercial hub while East Belmont, located over the east ridge of town, was where most of the mining activity occurred.
At its peak, Belmont boasted a population of more than 2000 inhabitants (although there is a rumor of 15,000). During this time, the town contained businesses and amenities similar to a big city. A post office officially opened in 1867 and Nye County seat was moved from Ione, NV to Belmont.
The Bank Building, built in 1968, was originally design to hold valuables and precious ore recovered from the mines. It was a one story brick building with a basement. Before the completion of the courthouse, this building was converted into a courtroom, sheriff’s office, and jail. It was in the basement of this building that Jack Walker and Charles McIntyre were hung by a group of vigilantes. Shortly after which, the Belmont newspaper noted that most of the rougher elements of town left for friendlier parts of the state.
The Cosmopolitan was a two story wooden structure that housed a saloon, dance hall, restaurant and rooms for rent on the second floor. The building opened in 1967 and was used continuously until 1930.
Tasker Oddie lived in this house when he moved to Belmont from Austin, NV in 1899. Oddie arrived in Belmont to look after the business interests of Ansom Stokes. He would later become the Nye County District Attorney from 1900 to 1902. He made his fortune in mining interest in Tonopah. Later, Tasker would serve as governor of Nevada during 1911 and 1915 and US senator for two terms until he was defeated by Pat McCarran in 1932. Mount Oddie near Tonopah and Oddie boulevard in the Reno-Spark area were named after him.
The Belmont Church is a replica of the Catholic Church (built in 1872) that moved to Manhattan in 1906. Car dealer and historic preservationist Jim Marsh of Las Vegas donated the funds to recreate the historical building. The original church was called St. Stephen’s Church.
Combination Mill was a 40-stamp mill built in 1867 and closed by the end of 1968. Sulfide silver was crushed, roasted and mixed with mercury to extract silver. Initial there were two tall smoke stacks intended to carry the smoke down wind and away from the town of Belmont. After a short revival, the mill machinery was moved in 1880 to the camp of Gold Mountain.
At the time, county offices were scattered around town in several buildings. Due to this inconvenience and a recent jailbreak from the old jail, the county decided to build a new building to house all of the offices and jail. The Nye County Courthouse was completed in 1876 and reflected Belmont’s prosperity. The courthouse functioned as the county seat until 1905 and abandoned during the 1920’s. In 1976, the courthouse was acquired by the Nevada State Park System and with help from The Friends of the Belmont Courthouse the building is undergoing restoration.
Like so many mining town of Nevada, Belmont experience an eventual decline. A series of unfortunate events and larger booms in the part of the state caused many citizens to leave. Some left town with not only their personal belongings, but the scarce wooden building materials from their homes and businesses. Fortunately, many of the buildings were left intact, especially those made of stone and brick.
Belmont today is viewed as a ghost town, but there are still many residents who proudly make Belmont their home (11 permanent residents).
Buildings are now owned by either private individuals, Nye County or the State of Nevada. The town along with the Belmont Court House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Tours of the Historical Belmont Court House are offered to the general public daily at 1 pm.
If you ever manage to visit this hidden gem in Nye County, stop by Dirty Dick’s Saloon and tried a Picon Punch.
GPS Coordinates: 38.59534 N, -116.87951 W