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Gold Butte Townsite
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Gold Butte Townsite
Gold Butte Timesite
Gold Butte Road at Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S)

Overview

The Gold Butte Townsite is an interesting place to visit and commune with the mining and ranching history of this wild and rugged region.

in 1873, commercial grade muscovite (mica) was discovered at the Nevada Mica Mine on Rattlesnake Peak, a few miles south of the townsite. Then in 1905, gold was discovered on Gold Butte Peak, and when the news got out, miners poured into the area.

The town of Gold Butte was established in 1906 with a post office, and by 1908 there was a hotel, livery stable, saloon, mercantile, and some 2,000 residents. It is said that everyone lived in wall-tents because it was to expensive to ship lumber into the area.

Link to map.

Gold Butte Timesite
Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S)

Miners extracted copper, gold, lead, and zinc from the surrounding mountains for several years, but the ore (including the mica) wasn't rich enough to ship profitably and the miners drifted away. A few miles north on Tramp Ridge, however, the Lincoln Mine produced enough copper to be worth working into more recent times.

Today the area is littered with evidence of mining, including a mine shafts and adits, old equipment, the remains of old mills, can dumps, and cement foundations, but all of the buildings are gone.

The graves of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett give silent testament to two men who lived together and worked the Gold Butte mines from about 1916 until they died in 1958 and 1961, respectively. They lived in a cabin that sat between the grave site and Gold Butte Road, and were said to have been gracious hosts to everyone traveling the remote region.

Gold Butte Townsite
Collapsed mine tunnel -- yes, they really do cave in!

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this area is fairly safe, but there are old mines around, and holes in the ground are never safe to enter. The access road requires a high-clearance vehicle or a carefully driven sedan.

This is a wild and remote area without services of any kind (no restrooms, no water, no gas, no food). Bring what you need to survive. Be prepared and be self-reliant. Law enforcement no longer patrols the area. Someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two. Cell phones only work along parts of the paved road.

While visiting, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a remote hike, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Gold Butte Townsite

When exploring and finding interesting things, especially small things that fit in your pocket, please remember that this "junk" belongs to everyone, so leave it for your grandchildren to discover and enjoy. Also, these items are more than 50 years old and the historic site is so interesting that this area could someday be a registered as a National Historic Site. Trash is another matter; if you can, please help haul out trash left by other visitors.

 

Getting to the Townsite

Gold Butte Townsite is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 3 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

Gold Butte Townsite
Graves of William Garrett and Arthur Coleman

From town, drive out the paved Gold Butte Road for 21 miles to Whitney Pocket where the pavement ends. Continue south on the scenic unpaved Gold Butte Road for 19.8 miles a cattle guard that marks entry into the to Gold Butte Townsite area.

Continuing 20 yards past the cattle guard, Voight Well Road East (Table 1, 1650), on the left, leads into the Voight Well area (Site 1698 and Site 1699). Voight Well is the east end of the Townsite area. Voight Well Road West (Site 1651) also leads back into the Voight Well Area.

At about 0.4 miles past the cattle guard (20.2 miles total), Gold Butte Townsite Road East (Site 1648) forks left into the Townsite area, proper. Notice at this point a road sign for Red Bluff Spring Road (Site 0806) on the right several yards ahead. Angle left (southwest) onto Gold Butte Townsite Road East. In a few yards, the road runs through an old fenceline and into Gold Butte Townsite (Site 0460), proper, which is an open area about 110 yards wide.

Gold Butte Townsite
Old mining equipment

The Townsite

The things that can be seen from the center of the large cleared area are most of what remains. The grave sites of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett are on the southeast side of the cleared area, and the mine shaft (well?) and some rusting equipment lie on the west side. Cement foundations can be seen near the center of the area.

Around the area, the minor road leading southeast from the grave sites leads to mine opening and the foundation of an old mill. Little remains, but this and other things can be found by exploring the area. The road leading southwest from the grate-covered mine shaft leads to several mining prospects. Other interesting things are scattered about: make it a treasure hunt and see what you can find.

Old kitchen equipment, including a stove and refrigerator, lie southeast of the grave sites. Not much remains, but it is interesting to see what Garrett and Coleman had in their house. [Much of this has been removed in recent years.]

Gold Butte Townsite
Wet campsite by the "big" trees at the Townsite

Longtime area resident and former owner of the Treasure Hawk Mine (on the other side of Gold Butte Peak), John Lear, says:

Gold was discovered here after 1900, and by 1907, mining was going well the town of Gold Butte had a post office and a saloon, but few permanent buildings. They all had tents in those days because it was too tough to bring in wood to build houses. Gold Butte, which at one time had a population approaching 2,000, had only a brief period of glory.

By 1909, the miners cleared out and the post office was closed because so few people remained in the region. Only "The Odd Pair," Bill Garrett and Art Coleman remained at Gold Butte and continued to work their mines. Bill Garrett was a tall Texan cowboy and an expert gunman, while Art Coleman, short and slight, was intellectual and of frail health. The two men arrived in the Gold Butte area about 1916, and for years, their cabin was a stopping place for travelers. They were known for their hospitality and for keeping their word. Excerpted from Desert Valley Times, David Bly, January 18, 2008; or snatch a PDF [500kb] here).

Gold Butte Townsite
Approaching graves of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett (view SE)
Gold Butte Townsite
Graves of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett during summer
Gold Butte Timesite
Graves of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett during winter
Gold Butte Townsite
Graves of Arthur Coleman and William Garrett (view N)
Gold Butte Townsite
Shrub planted October 2016
Gold Butte Townsite
Shrub planted October 2016
Arthur S. Coleman
Grave marker for Arthur S. Coleman (winter)
William H. Garrett
Grave marker for William H. Garrett (winter)
Gold Butte Townsite
Grave marker for Arthur S. Coleman (summer)
Gold Butte Townsite
Grave marker for William H. Garrett (summer)
Gold Butte Townsite
Grave marker for Arthur S. Coleman (summer 2016)
Gold Butte Townsite
Grave marker for William H. Garrett (summer 2016)
Gold Butte Townsite
Visitor at the grave site (view N)
Gold Butte Townsite
Vandalism: fence post cut for firewood -- don't do this!
Gold Butte Townsite
Evening light at the grave sites
Gold Butte Townsite
Evening light at Gold Butte Townsite
Gold Butte Townsite
Site of the historic post office (view E)
Gold Butte Townsite
Site of the historic post office (view E)
Gold Butte Townsite
Metal grate over near-vertical mine shaft (view NW, winter)
Gold Butte Townsite
Metal grate over near-vertical mine shaft (view SE; summer)
Gold Butte Townsite
Old cabin equipment (removed)
Gold Butte Townsite
Old cabin stove (removed)
Gold Butte Townsite
Old cans (these are historic artifacts, not trash).
Gold Butte Townsite
Big Baker?
Gold Butte Townsite Gold Butte Townsite
Gold Butte Townsite
Old Equipment
Gold Butte Townsite
Old equipment during summer (view W)
Gold Butte Townsite
Junior Mark ...
Gold Butte Townsite
Old hopper
Gold Butte Townsite
Pace Arrow
Gold Butte Townsite
Two foundations (view SE)
Gold Butte Townsite
East foundation
Gold Butte Townsite
West foundation
Gold Butte Townsite
Spur road to mine openings and mill site (view SE)
Gold Butte Townsite
Spur road to mine openings and mill site (view SE)
Gold Butte Townsite
Campsite at old mill site
Gold Butte Townsite
Mine and mill site (view SW)
Gold Butte Townsite
Cold winter campsite at old mill site
Gold Butte Townsite
Historic site or low-impact campsite? I'm not so sure ...
Gold Butte Townsite
Mill foundation
Gold Butte Townsite
Concrete pedestal with assorted debris
Gold Butte Townsite
55-gallon drum used as a tub
Gold Butte Townsite
Worn-out shoes
Gold Butte Townsite
Funnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Funnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Mill site (view N from above)
Gold Butte Townsite
Mine opening
Gold Butte Townsite
Mine entrance
Gold Butte Townsite
Collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Back of collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Fractured rock walls inside mine
Gold Butte Townsite
Another mine opening
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine -- stay back from wooden floor!
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden supports and air vent (view up)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers and air vent (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers and air vent (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Hillside above mine looking into collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Hillside above mine looking into collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Another mine opening - don't fall in!
GB Townsite
Sunset over the Townsite (view W)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0460 Gold Butte Townsite 751564 4018463 36.28017 114.19926 3,749 Yes
0806 Gold Butte Rd at Red Bluff Spring Road 751471 4018545 36.28093 114.20028 3,705 Yes
1648 Gold Butte Rd at GB Townsite Rd East 751531 4018569 36.28113 114.19960 3,727 Yes
1650 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd E 752023 4019023 36.28510 114.19398 3,710 Yes
1651 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd W 751876 4018844 36.28352 114.19567 3,696 Yes
1698 Voight Well Area   752057 4018860 36.28362 114.19366 3,724 Yes
1699 Gold Butte Peak Trailhead 752256 4018822 36.28323 114.19145 3,743 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161119

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