Welcome to Carrara … Nevada!

Carrara-Nevada-lemmon-20

Carrara, synonymous with marble, is many things to many people, artists and artisans… it also is a Ghost Town in Nye County Nevada, nine miles south of Beatty.

Today all that’s left are building foundations, foundations slabs, cellars, the town fountain, railroad grades of the Tonopah & Tidewater spur and Carrara cantilevered railroads. But it once was the site of a marble quarry and enjoyed a few years’ worth of hustle and bustle… well as much as one could get in the Nevada desert in the 20s. – We quote David A. Wright’s essay from ghosttowns.com.

Carrara, Nevada and Carrara, Italy have something in common. They are producers of marble. In 1911 prospectors found deposits and the American Carrara Marble Company was formed. The quarry was located in the mountains and the townsite about three miles away on the flat valley next to the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad. Because of the distance from the quarry to the railroad, work on a three-mile spur line began in 1913 to handle marble blocks weighing up to fifteen tons. A nine-mile water pipeline from Carrara to Gold Center was built. Some buildings were moved to Carrara from Beatty and Rhyolite to make the town look more finished than it really was. The hotel opened in June and featured electric lights, running water, and telephones. The railroad to the quarries was completed in 1914. Carrara’s peak years were 1915 and 1916. At that time there were more than forty buildings at the townsite and a population of close to 150. The Carrara school district was established in 1915. But the town was successful as a marble producer only for a short time. The marble tended to be fractured and not pure and Vermont began producing large amounts of higher quality marble. All activities at the quarry halted in 1917. Nothing substantial remains at Carrara today.

Carrara-Nevada-lemmon-21The economy of Carrara was based upon a large marble quarry, in the hills east of the townsite. Marble deposits were first located in 1904. The townsite was laid out during 1911-1913 by the American Carrara Mable Company. The townsite was located on the valley floor below the marble quarry, along the tracks of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad.

Carrara-Nevada-lemmon-16May 8, 1913 brought about a grand dedication of the townsite, complete with a ball, music by a band brought down from Goldfield, baseball game, swimming in the town pool. A newspaper, the Carrara Obelisk, was published (published May 8, 1913 – September 1916), and the post office opened shortly after (May 24, 1913 – September 15, 1924). A hotel, store and restaurant also served the town, which eventually inflated to about 100 residents. Unusual in the desert, Carrara could even boast its own town fountain. Water came from near the site of Gold Center, a few miles across the valley.

Carrara had an unusual railroad that serviced the quarry above the townsite. It was an unpowered cantalevered railroad. It basically involved a single standard guage track upon wooden ties that ran arrow straight up into the hills. At the midway point, a turnout track allowed the cars to pass each other. Motive power was a full car that pulled the empty one up the hill. Basically the same set up as the pendulums on a cukoo clock.

After the marble slabs were processed, they were shipped out over the Las Vegas & Tonopah until that company failed. Later, the nearby Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad built a spur to the marble mill at Carrara and thereafter shipped out tonnage.

Carrara-Nevada-palsgrove-5The quarry contained high quality marble, but it proved too fractured to provide profitable amounts to the company, and it eventually closed. Most of the population was gone by 1924.

From the essay on Ghost Towns by David A. Wright, on ghosttown.com, read the rest, linked here.
Photos are from the Nye County History site, linked here.

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3 thoughts on “Welcome to Carrara … Nevada!

  1. Reblogged this on martincooney.com sculptor and commented:
    Here’s a fascinating article re-blogged from an interesting site based near the marble quarries of the original Carrara in the Tuscany region of Italy. While I’m not sure where our Nevada Carrara is I know I have a trip in store in the not too distant future to check it out and perhaps even snag a piece or two of the ‘fractured’ blocks that caused the quarries ultimate decline. Anyway, I digress – take a look at this, its all very fascinating – all the more so because I didn’t know anything about it until now.

  2. Interesting story and one I have never heard before.
    I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some Nevada Carrara, fractures or not. I actually use these fractures to split the marble and carve not against the stone but with it – a sort of collaboration you might call it. It seems such a shame that a place as barren as the photos show should produce something as lovely as marble, only for the demands of the fabrication industry to shut it down. I’m sure there are many sculptors who share my sentiments. Marble is marble is marble after all!
    Having said that its not exactly a picnic to extract the marble from the quarries just outside the town of Marble, Colorado, an hour or so from where I write this. Perched on a precarious mountainside the Yule Marble as it is called rests at an elevation of around 9,200 ft, and although 90 percent is shipped directly to Italy in massive slabs there is plenty of ‘fractured’ marble for us sculptors to sink our tools into.
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’m going to look it up and the next time I take a desert trip I think I might just poke around the place.
    ps Mind if I reblog this?

    • Howdy!
      … the landscape is, or looks barren, yes. The photos are old, … but it is the Nevada desert.

      Sounds like you have a great scene going. Marble is lovely… and it has a price on the cities that “produce” it and the environment, Here, one of the issues is taking down whole mountainsides to use the marble … as calcite, in abrasives… tooth paste… This just being one among some of the crazier stories here.

      Marble Colorado. Interesting story… 9,200ft… thanks for sharing!
      Sure reblog away… (if you can make sure the links to the original material are there…)
      Grazie.
      : D

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