Nestled in the El Dorado Canyon in the El Dorado Mountains is the tiny, nearly abandoned ghost town of Nelson, NV, about an hours drive from Willow Beach. Nelson is only four square miles in size with a population of 37.
It was originally founded by Spaniards who named it El Dorado meaning “City of Gold”. When gold was discovered in 1859, the rush was on! In 1897, it was renamed to “Nelson” after Charles Nelson, a camp leader who was murdered, along with four others, in his camp by Avote, a renegade Indian. Many of the early miners were actually Civil War deserters, who fled the east to avoid the conflict.
Over a period of 87 years, the canyon would reveal millions of dollars worth of gold, thanks to the Techatticup, Wall Street and Queen City mines, which in 1872 alone, produced $25.2 million of gold and silver. The Techatticup Mine became known as a lawless, violent place, where gunfights were notorious and death was the norm. John Riggs, an Eldorado Canyon Gold Miner in 1880 said “I think there never was another place where, in proportion to the population, so many murders were committed without the criminals being brought to trial or even apprehended.”
Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours is 2 miles past Nelson on NV-165 at mile marker 13. The mine tours are of the Techatticup Mine and are by reservation only, and when they have four or more adults. $20 per person for adults, kids 5-12 are $12.50 and under 5 is free.
In addition to the mine tour, there are expansive grounds with all kinds of old cars, planes, and all sorts of what is essentially junk, but we thought it was fun and interesting to see all this stuff. The General Store is very cool with all sorts of unique artifacts (scorpion earrings anyone?). We visited on a whim on a weekday, so no tours were happening that day, but wow, if you like funky-junky stuff, this is the place!
They didn’t used to charge a fee to just explore the grounds, but based on the sign above, “The Abundancy of Stupid People” precipitated a policy change, so now there is a small per person fee. It was $1 when we visited and we feel it was well worth it. Professional photo shoots are charged a higher hourly fee. Apparently this place is also a popular wedding venue. Hmm.
This location has been used for many photo shoots, music videos and several feature films. The site features a small aircraft seemingly smashed nose-first into a dune, however, the plane is not a true relic, but a fabricated wreck from the 2001 crime film 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Oh, my, what a fascinating place! From an old 1800’s General Store filled with antiques, memorabilia and pictures that covers the history of the ghost town, to crashed airplanes, to a vintage motel sign, to a wedding chapel, to a collection of cool old vehicles and even unique RV’s made out of old school buses!
After walking around the grounds for well over an hour, we continued along NV-165 providing another very scenic drive to the Colorado River. This is where Nelson’s Landing is located, approximately 5 miles east of Nelson at the downstream end of Eldorado Canyon.
That’s because in September of 1974, there was a flash flood which wiped out the village and landing located there. Another road took us down closer to the wash. Hard to imagine that there once was a village here.
Take a tour of Nelson and Nelson’s Landing by viewing our photos!
Having finished with all of the sightseeing, it was time to head back to Willow Beach, about an hours drive.
Our original plan was to leave Willow Beach towards the end of January for a week long stay at Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort so we could see some of the sights in Las Vegas. But trying to rationalize moving from such a lovely, quiet campground, to being crammed into a cityfied more expensive resort, just wasn’t making any sense. What were we thinking? Instead we relocated to pull thru site B04, which was well worth the slight inconvenience of moving the rig. Instead of our original plans, a day trip to Sin City would have to suffice (and it was more than enough)!
Before heading down to the strip area in Las Vegas, we discovered that free parking was offered at the Venetian Hotel. OMG! This place was not only a hotel and casino but a gargantuan shopping mall, complete with singing gondoliers who were piloting gondolas along a very long indoor canal.
It took us about an hour to figure out how to find our way from there to the city monorail which traverses a large span of the strip and saves a lot of walking. We ended up buying a day pass ($13.45 each) which provides unlimited use. We rode it for the length of the strip and back just to get a look at the scenery and the various resorts.
Not being gamblers, we weren’t really interested in partaking of the casinos, however we did enjoy the theming at some of the more elaborate resorts.
One of the highlights later that afternoon were the fountains at the Bellagio MGM Resort. On their website they describe it as “more than a thousand fountains sway in front of the hotel, enhanced by music and lights. The display spans more than 1,000 feet with water soaring as high as 460 feet into the air.” Pretty cool!
By the time we headed back to the car, it was after 5:00 p.m. and we had at least an hour drive back to Willow Beach not counting delays due to rush hour traffic. An exhausting but enjoyable day to say the least!
Here are more photos of our visit to Las Vegas!