Travelers on US95 drive by a historical mark several times a day but are unaware of its importance.
In 1998, the Walker Lake Posse dedicated a bronzed plaque in honor of the salt mining operation that existed near the dry lake bed. The group mounted the plaque on a cement marker about 20 feet from the highway.
This red and black painted marker is located just north of the Tonopah Junction in Mineral County and east of the highway. Stage brush surrounds the historical marker making the monument barely visible, until travelers are almost perpendicular to the concrete structure.
During the golden age of mining in Nevada (OK, maybe the silver age), this area was known as the Virginia Salt Marsh and located in Esmeralda County. During that time, a businessman named A.J. Rhodes established a salt mining operation and town in this area, later renamed the dry lake bed as Rhodes Salt Marsh.
By 1862, Rhodes Salt Marsh was supplying salt to Aurora, Belmont, Belleville, and Virginia City. Salt was transported to Virginia City by camel and later sold on the open market in San Francisco, CA. Traders would buy the salt at a price of $120 to $180 per ton. It was once said the Rhodes Salt Marsh produced enough salt that could preserve the world.
Operations were extremely profitable during that year. The follow year, salt pools were discovered at Sand Springs in the Churchill County and bought an end to profitability as the Rhodes Salt Marsh mine could not complete in the Comstock market.
For a short time, the town did benefit from the discovery of Borax and installation of the Carson & Colorado Railway between Hawthorne, NV and Belleville, NV. Eventually the decline in salt production led to a slow demise to mining operations and the town. By 1911, the town and area was abandoned.
The tower withstood the test of time as bright symbol of Nevada’s mining past for over a 100 years, until it collapsed between 2015 and 2016. Nowadays, the only thing that remains on the site are piles of timber and a historical marker connecting people to the past.
Has curiosity ever cause you to stop and check out this historical site?
GPS Location: 38.27874 N, -118.09959 W