Carrara

"Meet Me at the Fountain"

The first outcropping of marble was discovered and worked in 1904, but the deposits proved to be too fractured for use. In 1911, a better deposit was found, and the American Carrara Marble Company was established with P.V. Perkins as president and investors from the East. A quarry was located in a canyon above the valley and the townsite of Carrara was laid out on the flat below, named for the famous marble producing city in Italy. Carrara's position in relation to the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad was also desirable, and a short spur line was built to connect the new townsite to the railroad. Water was piped in from Gold Center, less than six miles away.

The Carrara townsite was officially dedicated on May 8, 1913, and a Townsite Day celebration was held. A band from Goldfield performed and a baseball game was played (though some buildings were actually moved in from Beatty and Rhyolite to make the town seem more completed than it really was). That same day, the Carrara Obelisk, a town newspaper, ran its first issue. A post office opened a few weeks later, and in June the Hotel Carrara opened, featuring electric lights, running baths, and telephones.

In early 1914, the American Carrara Marble Company completed a 3-mile railway from the quarry to the townsite (and T&T spur). This railway was driven by a Lidgerwood cable system, which ran by counterbalance. There were two flatcars, and as the fully loaded one descended the line from the quarry, it pulled the empty one back to the top. There was a single shared rail, except in the middle where it split to allow the two cars to pass one another. On April 7, 1914, the company made its first shipment of six huge blocks of marble to Los Angeles. By summer, Carrara developed to a thriving town of around 100. In January 1915, a school district was organized and in April an ice plant was completed. A new park and fountain were also built, leading to an unofficial slogan - "Meet Me at the Fountain."

Carrara peaked in 1915 and 1916, with more than forty buildings in town and a population of 150. Marble from Carrara even won a gold medal at the Panama-California Exposition. Unfortunately, Carrara wouldn't be a successful marble producer for long. The marble tended to fracture and be impure, and higher quality marble was being shipped from quarries in Vermont. In late 1916, electricity was cut off by the Nevada-California Power Company when it stopped being profitable, effectively halting the quarry's operation. In 1917 the Obelisk stopped publication.

Carrara was in a quick decline, and by the 1920s was a ghost town. A short rush in the late 1920s brought a few people to old Carrara when gold was discovered to the northwest at the Gold Ace mine, but most miners moved to the new camp of Arista. The final development in the area was in the 1940s, when an ill-fated cement plant was constructed just north of Carrara with the intent of using crushed marble to produce a luxurious white cement, but it was destroyed by fire before it ever opened.

I visited Carrara on 8.2.2018
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