View Full Version : Bottle House in Ryholite Nevada

07-28-2009, 05:47 PM
I visited the famous Bottle House in Rhyolite, Nevada a couple weeks ago. It was built in 1906 and the original owner used 50,000 beer, whiskey, soda, and medicine bottles to build his house. It's been restored and fenced off but I managed to get in and take some pictures anyhow. I recognized a Web's Liver and Kidney, a Lash's, and a Hostetter's but most of them I could not identify immediately. I found three other bottle houses in Tonopah and will post pictures in a separate thread later.....Ron


07-28-2009, 06:01 PM
I guess that settles the dispute that it's impossible for some bottles to turn dark purple without being nuked! Those have been sitting in the sun for at least 106 years!

07-28-2009, 06:02 PM
What's on the inside? Lots of pegs to hang your clothes & stuff?

07-28-2009, 06:46 PM
Awesome!! Now I have a reason to keep hitting the fleas!
Here's an earlier pic:

07-28-2009, 06:55 PM
There is a house just like that in the ghost town/tourist trap of Calico (California?? or Nevada??

07-28-2009, 07:46 PM
You are right Wilkie. Bottle houses are more common that advertised. A few are made into tourist traps. Here are the two other bottle houses I found - both in GoldField - not far from Tonopah. This first one is still being used as an antique shop. They sell a lot of very nice bottles in here and had good prices. I bought four. The owner is an 80 year old Gent and an ex-president of the LA Bottle Club. He's holding five GoldField bottles for another buyer that I may be able to get at a later date if the other buyer doesn't show....Ron


07-28-2009, 07:52 PM
This is the other bottle house I stopped at in Goldfield. I could see 3 others up on the hill. This one was right beside the highway....Ron


07-28-2009, 07:54 PM
I just read that they did this because timber was scarce.. and in that climate and environment, few trees and lots of thirsty settlers, it kind of makes sense...

07-28-2009, 08:22 PM
There is a whole community of them in Nevada or Utah.

07-28-2009, 09:22 PM
Looks like some desparate bottle diggers got to the other two. I wonder if any of those could be removed without breaking the bottles.

07-28-2009, 09:25 PM
Those walls are most likely held together with mud.. a garden hose would turn the places into a pile of mint bottles.. assuming you can find a source of water..

07-29-2009, 11:08 PM
Id be out there everyday chipping away at that cement or whatever it is holding that abandoned house made of bottles in place. I saw a JJ Hostetters, Id be all over that one like white on rice. I cant believe the abandoned one is still standing and that collectors havent totally taken that place apart.

07-29-2009, 11:42 PM
I have witnessed changes in the bottle house in Rhyolite, Nevada since first visiting it 40 years ago.

Back then, there was a young couple who lived in the house maintaining it. By the late '70s, the house was once again vacant and was falling into disrepair. In 1986, there was a Korean War vet living in the adjacent house "keeping an eye on things". By the ealy 1990s, the vet, who was an alcoholic, was gone and it was evident someone was attempting to get at the bottles by chipping away at the adobe. Inside the bottle house were numerous antiques including a child's player piano and a 19th Century coffin. Paper's were strewn about dating from the first 10 years of the 20th Century. My buddy found a photo postcard of the bottle house with the original inhabitants posing in the front yard. The postmark on the card was 1907

Sometime thereafter, a large cyclone fence was placed around the structure and from the photos provided, some attempts have been made to clean the structure and surroundings up. It is interesting to note that for more than 30 years there was a sizable outdoor diorama to the immediate north of the bottle house illustrating early buildings in Ryolite. Each building was covered with 5" x 5" textured glass panels all having turned a rich sun-colored amethyst. There were hundreds of these panels and from your photo it appears they are gone now.

Moreover, it looks like the roadside bottlehouse in Goldfield hasn't fared as well during those same 40 years. Your photo shows it was apparently a target of opportunity for bottle harvesting as in the 1960s this house was far more complete with four intact walls.

I agree that bottle houses are far more common in Nevada, particularly in the Mohave Desert region. I spent a great deal of time traipsing along little-known rabbit runs throughout this area and have come across many unusual sites. It has only been in recent years with the popular idea that anything old knows a resale market. This factor together with increased accessibility has brought wholesale acts of vandalism. I have seen entire Mimbreno Apache Indian village sites (circa 1200 A.D.) bulldozed in southern New Mexico in search of monochrome pottery.

As for the Rhyolite bottle house, can you tell me if they are still mining northeast of town? There was concern at one time that continued blasting at the open pit site would further degrade this unique structure's integrity.

07-30-2009, 01:01 AM
Hi Cord...Yes it has changed...Those glass panels you mentioned were no where to be found. The bottle house was fenced off and visitors were not allowed on the porch - although I talked him into it for pictures. Never did see inside it. I was born and raised in Hawthorne Nevada, about 90 minutes north of Tonopah. I remember going to ghost towns in the 60's(Rawhide in particular) and the saloons still had swinging doors! Rawhide is buried now in trialings from the local mine. Nothing left but a small cemetary and plaque. Candelaria is the same.

I have no idea if the mine is still active in Rhyolite. I doubt it as I didn't see any obvious activity. They are still interesting places to visit. I see the need to fence it off as too many treasure hunters would have torn it down. I'd rather see it standing for many, many more years.....Ron

07-30-2009, 01:31 AM
Thanks for your response, Ron.

Some of the best ghosttowns in the United States can be found in Nevada. I lived in neighboring Utah and would spend weeks traveling the off-beat paths through Nevada in my 1967 Jeepster Commando. I also hitched extensively in the early '70s (when such an activity was relatively safe) and can safely say I've been down every blacktop and bramble path in the state.

I still have a place in my heart for Nevada, but must admit in recent years just travelled the well-worn highways to other destinations. Austin and Eureka, both on "The Loneliest Highway in the World" have changed little over the years, but towns like Fallon, Winnemucca, and Elko have grown appreciably.

08-01-2009, 11:26 AM
I spent much time digging in the areas of Tonopah, Belmont, Candeleria, Belleville, and many other camps, beginning inthe late 60s and continuing for the next couple of decades. Candeleria, Metallic City and Pickhandle Gulch are gone, obliterated by modern mining operations. We went through a number of bottle houses, but bothered none. The vast majority of the bottles used in constructing these homes were common, unembosssed beers and mineral waters, with a smattering of embossed junk. None are worth destroying the builder's efforts to recover. Far better bottles are still in the ground in and around surviving camps. Another local digger recently opened a pit near Columbus and was rewarded with several Henley's IXL Bitters, with one bright green.