Delamar Ghost Town - Atlas Obscura

Delamar Ghost Town

Caliente, Nevada

The eerie ruins of an isolated abandoned town nicknamed "the Widowmaker" for its deadly gold mine. 


In the remote high desert, over a hundred miles from Las Vegas and 30 miles from the nearest inhabited town, lies a ruined mining settlement hidden in the hills. At one time one of the largest towns in Lincoln county, and infamous for a very high number of mining-related fatalities, Delamar was a victim of the boom and bust cycle in the late 1800s, and has since been abandoned.

In 1889, gold was discovered nearby by a pair of prospectors, Joseph Sharp and John Ferguson, and a small camp named for the latter was formed. Soon other prospectors began to flock to the newly created mining camp, and gold production began in earnest, despite Ferguson’s remote location.

In 1894, the profitability of Ferguson caught the attention of a speculator and mining financier from Montana, Joseph Raphael De Lamar, who purchased several of the mines in the area and moved the town site to where it presently sits under its current name, Delamar.

From 1895 until 1900 the mine produced over $8 million in gold ore, but never reached the level that other prominent Nevada mines did, and in 1909 the last mine in Delamar stopped production, and the town was abandoned (the site was briefly active again during the Great Depression).

However, the mine is most notorious for the high number of deaths caused by the amount of silica dust created by ore production. This silica dust settled in the lungs of many miners and townsfolk, causing a condition called silicosis, and eventually death, earning Delamar the nickname “The Widowmaker.” Local legend holds that at one time, over 400 widows lived in Delamar.

After a long, lonely journey along abandoned dirt trails, visitors emerge into a small valley tucked away in the hills, with rows of rocky foundations and several freestanding walls from ruined buildings. Picking among the rocks and weeds, the remains of several old bank safes can be found, their doors ripped off and the contents long gone. Due to Delamar’s isolation and enclosed location in the valley, there is an eerie stillness in the area, and even in bright daylight visitors sometimes report the sensation of being watched.  

Know Before You Go

On the U.S. 93 freeway, 25 miles past the junction with N.V. 318, turn south and follow posted markers on the dirt road. A high-clearance vehicle is required. (Be advised, that some areas nearby are marked as private property, and abandoned mines are extremely dangerous and should not be entered. Obey all posted signs.)

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