Utah State University Digital History Collections


Death Valley Region Photo Collection


Document Type

Digital Collection


Merrill-Cazier Library


This small collection of black and white photographs of the Death Valley area of Nevada and California was taken mainly in the late 1920s by "Shorty" Harris or one of his associates. Featuring buildings, a hearse, a gravestone, and other scenes from the ghost towns of Rhyolite, Aurora, and Calico, the Death Valley Region Photograph Collection consists of eleven silver gelatin POP prints purchased from Amalgre Books of Bloomington, Indiana in April of 1997. Rhyolite, Nevada was founded in 1904 after Shorty Harris and Ed Cross discovered Rhyolite Quartz at the Bullfrog mine. By 1906 the town had two railroad lines and a population of 10,000. The mines, however, did not produce as expected and by the early 1910s Rhyolite was abandoned. Aurora, Nevada was a silver mining boom town founded in 1860. The heyday of Aurora ran throughout the 1860s (Mark Twain briefly lived there), but it slowly declined after 1870. It went through a rebirth in 1912 when a new stamp mill and cyanide plant were built at the mines. In 1917, however, the mill closed down and by the early 1920s Aurora was abandoned. Calico, California was initially founded as a silver mining town in 1882 but by 1890 the cost of recovering the silver became prohibitive. The town, however, continued to exist until 1907 due to the production of Borax.