The southwestern United States is home to many defunct boomtowns (now known as ghost towns) that sprang up overnight and just as quickly disappeared. The towns were centered on mining activity taking place in the area and populations rose and fell with the success and demise of the mines and the mills.
Belmont, located in Nye County, Nevada, is one such town. Begun in 1865 when silver was found there, Belmont quickly grew and eventually became the county seat—the place where the county government was located—in 1867. At its peak, the population is rumored to have been 10,000 – 15,000, although census records indicate that number to much lower. (Possibly 4,000 residents but more likely closer to 2,000.) Belmont’s current year-round population is less than a handful.
Few buildings of the boomtown era remain intact. Because lumber was so scarce in the area, many residents literally ‘moved house’ when they relocated to the next boomtown. Decay and vandalism have taken their toll on the rest of the surviving buildings in Belmont. The crowning glory of the town was the red brick courthouse erected in 1875. The exterior is made of bricks from red clay found in the area. Efforts are currently underway to restore the courthouse to its former beauty.
Dwindling mine production after 1887 caused most residents to move away. The only residents that remained were members of the county government. In 1905 the county government moved to Tonopah, Nevada where the majority of the population was centered due to new mining operations located there. From 1914-1922 there was an increase in population in Belmont as new mining techniques caused a mining revival. The prosperity was short-lived and the post office officially closed in 1922.