Florence and Little Florence Mines - Atlas Obscura

Florence and Little Florence Mines

Florence Hill, Nevada

Exhibiting the tallest structure of its type in Nevada, this massive mining complex is frozen in time. 


Goldfield is a ghost of its former self, but the legacy left by the miners remains strong.

This humble town once boasted a roaring mining district. The Florence Mine has the tallest wooden headframe in Nevada—a title that it has held for over a century. The mine opened in 1906 and was worked with varying intensity until the 1970s. Today, the complex stands as a time capsule. The land is now part of a ranch for rescuing and rehabilitating donkeys and burros. The cavernous old mill serves as a hay barn. However, some of the shop buildings still realize their original purposes by keeping the ranch’s equipment operational.

The 1940s blacksmith shop at the Florence Mine is both intact and regularly used. Tools resting atop stout benches and cabinets line the walls as if the last shift clocked out yesterday. Looking down, a narrow set of steel rails is embedded in the floor. It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the cart tracks stop at the wall—there may have been an earlier building on the site.

The main attraction at the mine is the hoist house. The late afternoon sun cast a golden glow on the massive drum that’s still wound with braided wire rope. Signs hang on the wall instructing the reader on a series of bells that serve as hoist signals. Operating the hoist paid well but it was also extremely dangerous if the wrong signals were interpreted; a bell system allowed miners to communicate with the operator on the surface. This meant that the massive electric motor could be raised and lowered with exacting precision. Along with the mill, this was the heart of the mighty operation.

Know Before You Go

The mine is on private property. Please reach out to the owners beforehand using the contact information on their Facebook page. Tours are $20 cash per person.

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