Searchlight Nevada

Searchlight Nevada is a unincorporated town with a history in mining. The small town in Clark County is located south of Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada and honored with Nevada State Historic Marker number one hundred and sixteen. The Nevada Start Historic Marker is located on the west side of the highway as you enter town.

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

Main Street of Searchlight, Nevada
Main Street of Searchlight, Nevada

The town is founded after George Frederick Cook prospected the area beginning May 6th, 1897. It is said that he would take a searchlight to find gold in the area, lending the town its name. Following the discovery of gold, the area boomed, which caused its population to raise. At the time, the mining town was part of Lincoln County, and for a time its population was larger than that of Las Vegas. When Clark County is created the town was briefly considered to be the county seat.

Between 1907 and 1910, the gold mines of Searchlight produced $7 million dollars in gold and boasted a population of 1,500. Ore is shipped to Barnwell via the Barnwell and Searchlight rail service. In order to reduce costs, the Quartette company constructed a twenty-stamp mill on the Colorado River. The new mill utilized a 15 mile narrow gauge rail is constructed down to the mill in an attempt to further reduce costs. The rail is completed in 1902. Several tent saloons are erected during this time and named Cyrus Noble, Old Bottle and the Little Brown Jug.

Quartette Mill, Searchlight, Nevada
Quartette Mill, Searchlight, Nevada

Later in 1903, enough water is is on hand in town to support a second twenty-stamp mill. The onsite mills capacity is further increased in 1906 when the Colorado Mill is closed and relocate near town.

During its peak in 1907, Searchlight boasts well-furnished stores, about a dozen saloons, telephone exchange, forty four mines and several mills. The Chamber of Commerce advertised some 5,000 people living in the little haven. Searchlight’s decline began in 1917.

Today, the town is home to about 500 people. Its location on the 95 highway offers a rest spot for travelers between Las Vegas and various Colorado River how spots, including Lake Mojave, Laughlin NV, Bullhead City and Havasu. The small community is home to a few small casinos, gas and food. Senator Majority Harry Leader Harry Reid is perhaps the towns most notable citizen. Harry Ried proudly raised the American Flag over his property, when he was home which was visible from the highway.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

Initial discoveries of predominately gold ore were first made at this location on May 6, 1897.  G.F. Colton filed the first claim, later to become the Duplex Mine.  The Quartette Mining Company, formed in 1900, became the mainstay of the Searchlight district, producing almost half of the area’s total output.  In May 1902, a 16 mile narrow-gauge railroad was built down the hill to the company’s mill on the Colorado River.

On March 31, 1907, the 23.22 mile Barnwell and Searchlight Railroad connected the town with the then main Santa Fe line from Needles to Mojave.  By 1919 trains travelled over the B. and S. Railroad only twice a week.  A severe washout on September 23, 1923, halted traffic completely.  Train service was never restored.

Searchlight is the birthplace of U.S. Senator Harry Reid (b.1939) who became the first Nevadan to serve as the Senate Majority Leader, a position he assumed in 2007.

STATE HISTORICAL MARKER No. 116
STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE

Nevada State Historic Marker Map

Town Summary

NameSearchlight, Nevada
LocationClark County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude35.4744, -114.9307
Nevada State Historic Marker116
GNIS0845654
Populationup to 5,000
Elevation3,547 ft (1,081 m)
News PaperSearchlight Bulletin Jan 1, 1903 – Jan 3, 1913

References

Colorado Steamships

From 1852 through 1909, Colorado Steamships ferried people and supplies up and down the Colorado River to mining camps and outposts. Following the discovery of gold in California, westward expansion of the United States was on the mind of most people seeking their fortune of livelihood. Wagon trains, horses and trains all brought people deep into the new county seeking their fortune. Lesser known is the role of the steamships, which brought supplies and people up the Colorado River from Baja California to the Green River in Wyoming.

View showing steamboat Cochan on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona in 1900 - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
View showing steamboat Cochan on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona in 1900 – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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Willow Beach Campground

Willow Beach Campground is a full service campground located near the eastern shore of the Colorado River, in Mohave County Arizona. Willow Beach is a small boat ramp on the Arizona side of the Colorado. The boat ramp allows launches into the river and access to Lake Mohave, downstream and Hoover Damn looms very large up river.

Willow Beach is a wonderful location to participate in all water sports or just sit by the Colorado River and have a picnic. The location offers a great access points and offers some scenic views of Black Canyon gorge. The campground is located slightly above the river and does offer River views.

The Hoover Damn Bypass Bridge viewed from the Colorado River is accessible from Willow Beach
The Hoover Damn Bypass Bridge viewed from the Colorado River

The campgrounds offers year round enjoyment to the area. The area is known for extreme hot temperatures so be prepared! One trip canoeing below Hoover Damn to Willow Beach we pulled the canoes from the river at 121 F.

Campground Summary

NameWillow Beach Campground
LocationColorado River, Mohave County, Arizona
Longitude, Latitude35.87338834278191, -114.65113899560673
Elevation855
Sites66, 38 RV / Trailer, 37 Campsites
AmenitiesBBQ Grills, Campground Host, Campsite Tables, Drinking Water, Electrical Hookup, Fire Pit, Firewood Available, Rentals, Restrooms (Flush Toilets), RV Hookups, Showers, Vending Machines, WiFi

Willow Beach Campground Map

References

Nelson Nevada and Eldorado Canyon – Clark County Ghost Town

Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.
Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.

The ghost town of Nelson, Nevada, which is located in Eldorado Canyon along Lake Mojave, is a quaint destination which offers the visitor a brief glimpse into the past.

History

The Southwest Mining Company Quartz mill located just off the Colorado River.
The Southwest Mining Company Quartz mill located just off the Colorado River.

El Dorado Canyon has a long and storied mining history which includes 150 years of mining activities by Native Americans, Spanish Explorers and Mormons prior to 1861. In 1863, miners from nearby Potosi flooded the area and established four town sites in the narrow canyon, the establishment of which caused some excitement on the western coast.

Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.
Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.

In 1864, near the mouth of Eldorado canyon a ten-stamp stamp mile is built. This despite a six month lead time for supplied to arrive in the remote location. At the time, Eldorado canyon was part of the Arizona territory and the Eldorado mill was the first in the Arizona territory.

The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.
The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.

As the town grew, in 1865 the town added a post office. However the area was a rough camp with the nearest law about 300 miles away. Vigilantes dispensed justice to those who crossed the line.

Mill in Eldorado Canyon, circa 1890
Mill in Eldorado Canyon, circa 1890

Founded in 1905 Nelson, Nevada is located some seven miles west at the head of Eldorado Canyon. The town of Nelson slumped for two decades beginning in 1909, but the 1930’s found a resurgence in gold production. By 1941, the three cyanide mills processed 220 tons of ore daily. The population reached 600 persons, however increased costs caused the gold production to slow and eventually cease. The Techatticip mine produced over half of the total gold produced in the area. The gold produced by the region has an estimated valued at $10,000,000.00.

In 1951, Davis Damn is completed. The original town site in Eldorado canyon was buried and drowned by the rising waters of Lake Mojave.

A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here.  Nelson, Nevada
A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here. Nelson, Nevada

Today

Today, the town of Nelson hosts some 37 people in the 2010 census. The older section of town hosts many old buildings, ruins, cars, mining equipment and all in all is an eclectic collection of mining and western history. The current occupants have a wonderful collection of old mining gear and western history, mixed with an eclectic collection of art.

Nelson, Nevada

The town was recently used as a movie set, and the a tour of the town is available to those interested.

Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.
Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.

Nelson and El Dorado trail map