Rhyolite is a ghost town at the eastern entrance to Death Valley. (View a map of the area towards the bottom of my first story in this series.)
Once Rhyolite was a bustling metropolis with a three-story shopping district, carriages, and fashionably dressed people.
Today there’s nothing but the whistling wind, and dusty signs warning tourists about rattle snakes.
When I visit places like Rhyolite, I am inevitably reminded of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias:
I MET a Traveler from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings.”
Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Will our civilization–so grand and impressive to us–vanish like Rhyolite and Ozymandias?
Julian, my eight-year old, and I visited Bodie, another famous ghost town, earlier in the year. Here’s the story.