Coaldale, Nevada – Esmeralda County, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

While it was never a thriving settlement, the tiny town of Coaldale, Nevada’s Highway 95 supported itself well enough on the earnings from its gas station and small diner, but when those closed down, the population of the town had to evacuate, leaving behind a mid-20th century version of a Wild West ghost town.

Originally populated as an (unsuccessful) coal mining camp, the tiny town of Coaldale had, by the 1930s, established itself on the tenuous foundation of roadside service. The town consisted almost exclusively of a small motel, a diner, and most importantly, a gas station. The tiny population of the town subsisted on the proceeds of its few meager businesses, never really growing and never really shrinking. Baking in the midst of the Nevada desert, the town seemed like it had hardened into a sort of arid permanence. However in 1993 the EPA, in a sweeping bit of legislation that required all gas stations to upgrade their subterranean fuel tanks, found that Coaldale’s small service station was leaking gasoline into the ground. Unable to afford to fix the problem or upgrade their tanks, the station quickly went out of business. With no more gas to stop for, the diner and motel’s customers also dried up almost immediately, and the end of Coaldale, Nevada was at hand.

The town was quickly abandoned leaving behind its squat mid-century buildings as the only physical reminders of its existence. Furnishings were left in the empty motel, and stoves and cooking equipment was similarly abandoned inside the diner. Like countless boom towns a century prior, Coaldale had become nothing but a memory of a specific blip in American history.      

Today, the broken out service station sign pole still stands not far from the dead windows of the motel. Some of the buildings have been burned down by vandals, but for the most part the town still stands waiting for future historians to look back on its existence before giving it over to roadside hucksters like so many ghost towns before it. 

Know Before You Go

Easy to find on Highway 95, approx. 25 miles west of Tonopah, Nevada, near Junction Highway 6/95.

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