The Goldfield Hotel

Goldfield, Nevada The town in which it resides is all but dead. Few remain of what was once a thriving community, and the buildings that line the streets are marked with decay and disuse. Among the crumbling bricks and boarded windows sits a monolithic titan, once the toast of the town and many states over. Its windows covered, its sidewalk fenced off, one might get the impression that the town doesn’t want the liability of letting anyone in. It just might be, however, that the greater liability lies in letting whatever is inside out.

Hauntings can be caused by numerous things: intersecting lay-lines, great passion, or, the most common, tragedy and evil. When a building is erected on all three, they combine to form one of the most haunted spots in the western United States, complete with mystery and sadness. In The Goldfield Hotel it seem that some of the residents never checked out.

The town of Goldfield, Nevada, was built around a mining camp and the gold mines that produced over ten million dollars worth of gold. As the miners struck gold, more came, creating need and commerce. Saloons opened, brothels did booming business, and the city grew until its population reached well over 30,000 people at any given time.

In 1908 the massive Goldfield Hotel was built by the Hays-Monetle Syndicate over a mine shaft that had gone dry. It was widely considered to be the most luxurious hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. From its marble floors to the crystal chandeliers, the 154-room hotel boasted every modern convenience. The mahogany-trimmed lobby with black leather upholstery and gilded columns appealed to the upper crust, and the owner, George Winfield, grew to be a rich man.

But life was not all well with Winfield. At some point in the 1930s, his life took a turn for the worse when a prostitute he visited frequently, named Elizabeth, turned up pregnant and claimed his was the child she carried. For a while he paid her to stay away, afraid of the scandal that such a child could bring to his business. When it was no longer possible to hide the pregnancy, Winfield lured her to Room 109 of his hotel and chained her to a radiator. There she stayed, supplied with food and water, until the child was born. According to some, Elizabeth died in childbirth. Others contend that Winfield solved the problem with more finality by brutally murdering her. Either way, she was found dead. George Winfield then took the baby and threw it into the open mine shaft over which his hotel was built.

Over the course of the next few years, Winfield’s health deteriorated amid rumors that his murdered mistress continued to visit him. The sound of a crying child could sometimes be heard from below the hotel. In the mid 1940’s, with the mines completely played out and the population dwindling, The Goldfield Hotel closed its doors.

Because it was the site of many emotional moments and hardships, The Goldfield Hotel boasts more than its share of ghosts. In addition, many psychics who have visited the site claim that the hotel itself is one of nine gateways into the other world. It could be because of the natural lay-lines of the area, but more than likely it is due to the volume of souls that still walk the halls.

Two of the ghosts are of people who committed suicide in third floor rooms. One, a woman, hanged herself while the male spirit jumped to his death from a window. Their identities have never been confirmed, but they have been sighted by more than a dozen people.

Near the stairs is a strange trio of spirits, two children and what has only been described as “a midget.” The three are pranksters, sneaking up behind people and tapping their shoulders before giggling and dancing away. Their identities are thus far unknown.

Across the hall in the main dining room is the most startling of all Goldfield’s permanent guests, the stabber. He stays by the entrance of the dining room and randomly attacks any who cross the threshold with what appears to be a large kitchen knife. While his blade has never actually harmed anyone, the sight of a man lunging with a knife in his hand is enough to send most anyone screaming from the room. The fact that he disappears immediately following the attack does not help matters.

Perhaps the most well known ghosts that still reside in The Goldfield Hotel are those of Elizabeth and her baby. She’s most often described as a woman in a long white gown who looks terribly sad. She paces the halls, calling out to her child. More than one investigator has encountered her and walked away in tears. The child can sometimes be heard as well, her voice drifting up from below the hotel’s marble floor.

The final ghost to haunt the halls is that of George Winfield himself. The odious man makes his presence known by moving objects about and with the stench of his cigar smoke. It is also not uncommon to find fresh piles of cigar ash in his downstairs room, even though the room has not been occupied in nearly sixty years.

Present Day:
After standing deserted for more than forty years, The Goldfield Hotel was bought by a land developer in 1985. Lester O’Shea had intentions of renovating the hotel and reopening it, giving a boon to the tourism industry of the town. However, only a few years later, his company went bankrupt and ownership reverted back to the county. It seemed The Goldfield Hotel would be lost forever. Then, in 2003, the county held an auction of nearly ninety parcels of historic land to pay its taxes. The Goldfield was among the parcels.

A rancher and engineer from Carson City named Edgar “Red” Rogers liked the potential he saw in the building and placed his bid. As it turned out, his was the only bid received on the hotel, and he won with a bid of only $360,000. It turned out the renovations begun by O?Shea were roughly 85% complete, and Rogers vowed to finish the restoration and open the hotel again to the public. It is scheduled to be reopened sometime in 2005.

In the meantime, The Goldfield Hotel has appeared in several movies, most notably Vanishing Point, Butterfly, and the sci-fi film Cherry 2000. In the fall of 2001 it was also featured on Fox Family TV?s ?World?s Scariest Places.?

Best Times:
As of the time of this writing, the hotel is not open to the public, but construction continues. When it finally reopens in 2005, the plan is to make the bottom two floors accessible to the public as a year-round retreat from Las Vegas. While in Goldfield, one can get a glimpse into what it was like in a real mining town. Or one could simply go to The Goldfield Hotel and meet some of the more permanent residents for a taste of the old world.

See you in two weeks!

Scott A. Johnson

Original artwork by Bill "Splat" Johnson

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