Coaldale, Nevada, had a continuous population from the 1880s until it was abandoned in the mid-1990s. During the last 20 years the town has eroded, shredded, collapsed. Technically Coaldale is a ghost town somewhere on the scale a bit above neglected.Located on US 6 and US 95 40 miles west of Tonopah – “in-the-middle nowhere” – the place has continued to inspire nostalgia and speculation. The 40-acre township town was officially listed for sale in 2006 and, unsold, again in 2014 – at $70,000. Still available.
Among the many ways to imagine Coaldale today, foremost in my mind is as Art Town – Population Zero. Street artists in the last several years have revisioned how abandoned, derelict structures may be visually experienced and, indeed, repurposed as expressive spaces. Who knows, any day Coaldale may be named a heritage site, its extant facades and art documented and preserved. Or perhaps an archaeological site where the art is acknowledged as the latest layer in an evolving post-mining, post-petrol civilization. This adds a level of intrigue and possibility and conjures an emerging “circular economy” – one that exchanges the typical cycle of make-use-dispose in favor of re-use and recycling.
The town’s iconic water tank offers a 2010 image by Labrona (Montreal) with traveling sidekick Overunder (Reno). More recently (2017) Joe C. Rock (Reno) respectfully added an image. On some buildings pasteup-paintings by Eddie Colla (Oakland) can be seen, though marked by later graffiti. Noting, the Nite Owl (Oakland) image is on an abandoned building some miles west of Coaldale.
Text and Fotos (November 3 – 2017) by Douglas Beauchamp.