Rhyolite Historic Area, Nevada

Rhyolite is one of Nevada’s most famous and accessible early 20th century gold-mining boom towns turned ghost town. The crumbling brick façade of the town’s former Cook Bank Building is purported to be the most photographed ghost town building in the west. When gold was discovered here in 1904, people flocked to Rhyolite and its population soon burgeoned to 5,000 – 10,000 people. The thriving boomtown was home to saloons, railroads, newspapers, an opera house, grocery stores, barber shops, a red-light district, and many others. In less than a decade, however, the town began to decline. By 1920 the town was all but abandoned. Today, visitors may wander the ghost town, visit the Rhyolite Bottle House or the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad Depot. While out there, add these other heritage sites to your route: the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field; the ET (Extraterrestrial) Highway, and the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah.

Rhyolite is located 4 miles southwest of Beatty, Nevada on State Route 374. From the turn-off, travel 3 miles on a gravel road to the recreation area. The site is staffed by Bureau of Land Management personnel. There is no admission fee.

Harkin Store, Minnesota

This 19th century general store is a virtual time capsule. After the railroad passed by the town in 1873, trade diminished, and the store was abandoned with most of its inventory in situ. Today, the Brown County Historical Society maintains the store and staffs it with costumed interpreters. Couple a trip to the Harkin Store with your visit to nearby New Ulm, a picturesque town settled in the mid-1850s and located along the Minnesota River. The town’s significant role in the 1862 Dakota Conflict is examined in detail at the Brown County Historical Museum. Many of the buildings in New Ulm reflect the town’s Germanic heritage, including the August Schell Brewing Company and the Hermann Monument.

Harkin Store is located at 2 North Broadway on County Hwy. 21, eight miles northwest of New Ulm.

Historic Richmondtown, New York

Richmond Town began as a hamlet in 1690 and by 1730 it was the seat of the county government. The Staten Island Historical Society began restoration of the old hamlet in 1936 to portray the evolution of a Staten Island settlement during the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Historic Richmondtown is now a 100-acre park with more than two dozen historic buildings representing a variety of architectural styles across four centuries. The buildings include the Voorlezer’s House (circa 1696), the oldest remaining elementary school in the country, the Treasure House (circa 1700), where $5,000 in gold coins was found behind a wall, and the Grocery Store (circa 1870), which now displays the equipment of an old printing shop. The buildings display authentic furnishings, antique toys, vehicles, costumes, and memorabilia. Costumed reenactors model the life and the activities of householders, farmers, merchants, and tradesman of earlier eras.

Historic Richmondtown is located at 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10306. To reach Historic Richmondtown by bus, take S #74 to Richmond Road and Court Place. By car, take the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Richmond Road/Clove Road exit, and then turn left onto Richmond Avenue. Take Richmond approximately 5 miles. Historic Richmondtown is on the left. Or take the West Shore Expressway to Richmond Avenue, and turn left onto Arthur Kill Road to Clarke Avenue.

Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland

St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent English settlement in North America and the first capital of the Province of Maryland. The first statute providing for (limited) religious toleration was enacted in the State House that is reconstructed on the site. The site features very little in the way of reconstruction, however, making it something an anti-Williamsburg, leaving most of the city’s colonial appearance to the imagination. (Which approach is more to your taste is something like the difference between preferring television or radio: it is endlessly debatable but in the end, you can enjoy both.) The site is off the beaten track (although a reasonable drive from Washington, D.C., or Baltimore) and seldom crowded, providing a wonderful atmosphere for leisurely viewing the exhibits in the Visitor Center and roaming the grounds to give the imagination time to do its work. One special feature is that archaeologists are busy on the grounds during the summer season. It’s usually possible to get a close-up look at their work and to find an eager archaeological field student to explain what they’re doing.

Located off Route 5 in Southern Maryland, travel time to Historic St. Mary’s City is less than two hours from Washington, D.C. and Annapolis and less than three hours from Richmond and Baltimore.

Eureka Springs Historic District

Legend has it that Indians had identified healing springs in the mountains of what later became “Arkansas” long before Europeans reached the region. In 1856, Dr. Alvah Jackson claimed that the waters from Basin Spring in northwestern Arkansas had cured his son of an eye ailment. After the Civil War, Dr. Jackson started a business selling “Dr. Jackson’s Eye Water,” and people began to flock to the site of the healing springs. By 1879, about 400 people had settled around the springs, and the new town of Eureka Springs was established in 1880. When the railroad arrived a few years later, Eureka Springs entered a golden age as one of America’s top spa towns. Fifty fine hotels, along with hundreds of commercial buildings and residences, were built in the town during the thirty years from 1880 to 1910. These beautiful old structures are now the heart of the Eureka Springs Historic District, which has over 33 significant and 250 contributing structures registered with the National Register of Historic Places. Basin Spring itself is located in Basin Park downtown. Other highlights of the historic district include: the 1886 Crescent Hotel, Eureka’s first stone structure, which is perched on top of one of the town’s hills; the 1900 New Orleans Hotel, which features fancy iron grillwork reminiscent of its namesake city; Hatchet Hall, lovingly named in remembrance of its most famous resident, Carrie Nation, who spent the last three years of her life in Eureka Springs; the Crescent Cottage Inn, originally a home built in 1881 by former Arkansas Governor Powell Clayton; and the Bank of Eureka Springs, with a meticulously restored interior of oak furniture, brass tellers’ cages, and antique business machines. The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is located in the former Califf House, which was built in 1889 as a residence and general store. The museum offers self-guided exhibits on local history, a doll collection, and historic photographs.

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

The Mystic River in southeastern Connecticut has been the scene of shipbuilding since the 1600s, and more than 600 vessels are known to have been constructed there between 1784 and 1919. The town of Mystic became a prominent shipbuilding port after 1840, with almost 100 vessels launched from Mystic between then and 1880. Wooden shipbuilding in small communities like Mystic declined in the late nineteenth century, although local yards turned out a modest number of large coasting schooners, yachts, and small fishing vessels until 1920. In 1929, three Mystic residents established the Marine Historical Association to preserve the rapidly disappearing remnants of the town’s maritime past. Mystic Seaport is now an active living history museum with 17 acres of exhibits portraying coastal life in New England during the nineteenth century. Four major vessels lie at Mystic Seaport wharves and docks where they may be boarded by visitors. The highlight is the wooden whaleship “Charles W. Morgan,” which was built in 1841 and was active until 1921. Mystic Seaport also has a number of exhibit galleries which display a wide-ranging collection of art and artifacts, along with a schedule of changing exhibitions.

Location map and directions click here.

Links: Mystic Seaport Museum by the Sea

Jerome State Historic Park, Arizona

The 1916 mansion of the James S. Douglas family sits on a hill overlooking the scenic Verde Valley, which was once the Arizona Territory’s most productive copper mining area. The Douglas family made a fortune in copper mining, and lived in the house during the heyday of copper mining in the area. They also used the mansion as a “hotel” for visiting mining officials and investors. The Arizona copper mining industry collapsed when copper prices plummeted during the Depression. The state of Arizona now preserves the mansion as an historic site. The mansion’s well-appointed interior and adobe-brick architecture reflect the high-life of copper mining magnates before the decline of their industry. Exhibits in the house display local mining history and methods. The site also preserves archival records such as photographs, newspapers on microfilm, correspondence, publications, manuscripts, and ephemera.


Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Links: Jerome State Historic Park

Fayette Historic State Park, Michigan

The great iron ore deposits of the Marquette Iron Range in the Upper Peninsula were exploited in the mid-nineteenth century, establishing the state as a leader in the iron industry, and triggering the growth of industry boomtowns. One of those was the town of Fayette, the site of The Jackson Iron Company’s blast furnace, built there in 1867. Fayette’s success centered on its charcoal-fired blast furnace and the easy access to the main ingredients, lime and charcoal (from the nearby limestone cliffs and hardwood forests) for the smelting process. The town prospered for almost three decades, but improved technology sealed its fate. The massive blast furnace could not compete with the newer coke-fired furnaces. When the blast furnace closed in 1891, so did Fayette. Today, the town is preserved within this state park, and visitors may take a self-guided walking tour of the site. Included among its 26 structures and surface features are the town hall, opera house, hotel, several homes, and the remains of the blast furnace. The iron industry and its cultural heritage is preserved in historic sites and museums throughout the Upper Peninsula. Two excellent sources are The Marquette County Historical Museum and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Link: Historic Fayette Town Site