Nevada’s ghost towns have stories to tell. Tales of riches sought in Wild West boomtowns, of infamous criminals roaming the desert, of Civil War deserters seeking a hidden haven. Travel Nevada’s back roads this summer to reach the state’s ghost towns, once booming centers of mining enterprises and community life. Today, picturesque wooden structures and crumbing stones mark the places where pioneers and dreamers once struggled to wrest a living from the desert.

Here’s a few ghost towns to consider when planning your Nevada road trip:

Unionville. American author Mark Twain once prospected in this town off Interstate 80 in Pershing County. Founded in 1861, Unionville experienced a major mining boom from 1863 to 1870, and once served as the seat of Humboldt County. In its heyday, it was home to about 1,500 people; today, about 20. Hit the road to check out the weathered wooden structures, including Twain’s old cabin. For an overnight, consider the Old Pioneer Garden B&B Guest Ranch, one of the town’s few remaining businesses. For more, including directions to Unionville, click here or and type “Unionville” into the search field.

Belmont. Infamous criminal Charles Manson once may have camped in Belmont, about 45 miles north of Tonopah in Nye County. Of course, the town predates the alleged Manson visit by almost a century. Belmont was founded after an 1865 silver strike in the area. By the 1870s, the population peaked at about 2,000 people, but soon dwindled after the mines shut down. Today, a couple businesses remain, along with old wooden structures and the Belmont Courthouse, which sports graffiti that may have been left by Manson. The courthouse is closed, but tours are offered from May through September through Friends of the Belmont Courthouse, For more on Belmont, click here or visit and type “Belmont” into the search field. A video of the Belmont Courthouse is available here.

Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon. Civil War deserters reportedly preferred Eldorado Canyon — home of the Techatticup Mine and its corresponding ghost town — just 44 miles south of Las Vegas. The isolated canyon first was mined for gold by the Spanish in the 1700s; later prospectors established the Colorado Mining District — which included the Techatticup — in the 1860s. Today, historical mining tours are available through Eldorado Canyon Tine Tours. For more information on Eldorado Canyon and Techatticup Mine tours, click here or visit TravelNevada.comand type “Techatticup” into the search field.

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