Bonnie Claire is now a collection of abandoned buildings located in Nye County, Nevada, north of Nevada State Route 267, 40 miles north of the closest town of Beatty, Nevada.
The town had its beginnings in 1906 to support gold mines in the area. That same year the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad and the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad laid tracks to Bonnie Claire and business boomed.
The mines started to play out in 1914 and town declined. Then in 1920 the town had a bit of a revival when it became the supply point for the construction of Scotty’s Castle 20 miles to the west in Death Valley. The railroads folded in 1928 and life quickly left Bonnie Claire.
There was some sporadic activity at Bonnie Claire between 1940 and 1954 and it lay abandoned for the next 50 years. In 2005 the Tonogold Resources, Inc. announced plans to rework the gold tailings at the Bonnie Claire Mill. The work was successfully completed, and Bonnie Claire has been abandoned ever since.
If you are driving on Nevada State Route 267 around Bonnie Claire, the first thing you will notice is the large metal mill building that is still standing on the north side of the road. And there are also a handful of smaller buildings and structures scattered around the mill.
The railroad grades for the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad and the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad can be clearly seen rising a few feet about the valley floor as they approach the old town site but the rails and ties have been gone for decades.
The road leading up to the mill and other buildings is well graded and invites people to come closer. It is interesting to wander in and around the remaining buildings. From the mill there is a definite quiet and off in the distance cars can be seen on US Hwy. 95 but not heard. And the mill has a commanding view across the valley to the south.
From the mill the remaining small-town site of Bonnie Claire is clearly visible on the other side of the road. About the only thing remaining is one structure that appears to be a workshop and hoist house for a shaft entrance below ground.
It appears that Bonnie Claire has an influence over other structures visible farther out in the valley. Several homesteads widely scattered appear to be abandoned and blowing away and falling down.
One newer building, probably not related to Bonnie Claire’s doom, is a few miles away on US Hwy. 95. It is the standing shell of a somewhat modern appearing gas station. The pumps are gone as is the glass in the windows and the roll up service bay doors. It is just a skeleton of its former self.
Off to the side of the abandoned gas station one of the large underground gas tanks has been dug up and placed on the surface. Someone came along later and found a new use for one of the ends of the tank. They turned it in to an extra-large canvas for their chalk art drawing. The artwork is labeled “Take me to Kaboom Town, Synova Lynd 2009.” There could be several meanings to the artwork. I will let you decide.
I have spent a good amount of the day walking around Bonnie Claire on two occasions. I also travel US Hwy. 95 often while exploring the desert. And each time I drive through this part of the desert I can clearly see the Bonnie Claire mill up on the side of the hill and the abandoned gas station still stands as a shell to its former purpose. On my last trip past the gas station I saw that the gas tank with the artwork was gone. It was probably hauled away for scrap.