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Searchlight, Nevada - Desert Town

Updated on January 24, 2015

Searchlight - the stop over Ghost Town

Searchlight is a census-designated place (CDP) in Clark County, Nevada, United States. The population was 576 at the 2000 census. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 13.1 square miles (33.9 km), all of it land.

According to Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who has written extensively about his hometown, the most likely story on how it got its name was when George Frederick Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897. Shortly thereafter he found gold leading to a boom era when Searchlight had more population than Las Vegas. At the time, it was in Lincoln County, Nevada. As talk surfaced for carving Clark County, Nevada out of Lincoln County Searchlight was initially considered to be the planned county seat. Between 1907 and 1910 the gold mines produced $7 million in gold and other precious minerals and the town had a population of about 1,500.

Other stories on the origin of the name include a story that Colton was lighting a Searchlight brand of matches when he discovered the gold ore. Reid dismisses this story saying that the Searchlight matches were not available in 1898. Yet another story says that Colton thought the area would be a good place because it was on a hill. Colton's mine was called the Duplex because the gold ore was found on two levels.[2][3]

Searchlight declined after 1917 but hung on as a stop on the Arrowhead Highway. In 1927, U.S. Highway 91 bypassed the town and its population dropped to 50.

The town had a resurgence in the 1930s and 1940s with the construction of nearby Hoover Dam and was home to the El Rey Bordello in the 1940s and early 1950s when it burned. The last gold mine ceased operating around 1953.

Credit: Wikipedia

I Bet You Have Never Heard Of Searchlight? - I Light in the Desert.

Well, have you? I would like to know. For years, it was just a stopping off point between Las Vegas, Nevada or Laughlin, Nevada. Years ago, you might stop to camp or just to get gas. It is much bigger these days. Rumor has it they have a nearby lake where you can fish for bass.

Have You Ever Heard Of Searchlight?

Yes, I've been there.

Yes, I've been there.

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes been there

    No, I searched but could not find it.

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      A Small Town Makes Big History!

      Mar. 27, 2010

      Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

      'SHOWDOWN IN SEARCHLIGHT': Thousands gather for 'Tea Party Express' event in Harry Reid's hometown

      Conservative 'Woodstock minus the LSD' might add 10,000 to Searchlight's 1,000 folk



      SEARCHLIGHT -- Let the Tea Party begin.

      "Welcome to the real America," said Norman Halfpenny, retired Marine Corps master gunnery sergeant, as he and other volunteer Tea Party valets greeted hundreds of overnight campers who staked out prime real estate to get a front-row view of today's "Showdown in Searchlight."

      A steady stream of RVs, motor homes, trucks, vans, jeeps and cars of every sort arrived a day early for the red, white and blue, U.S. flag-festooned festival where Republican rock star Sarah Palin will rally conservatives at noon in Sen. Harry Reid's hometown to call for his and the Democratic Party's defeat.

      continue story Showdown in Searchlight

      From 1897 to 1940, the mines had produced more than four and a half million dollars worth of gold.

      Searchlight Rag

      Scott Joplin, who never lived in Searchlight, was so intrigued by the stories of his composer friend, Tom Turpin - who had spent time in Searchlight in his youth - that he composed the Searchlight Rag

      Walking Box Ranch

      Silent movie star, Clara Bow, the 'It Girl', and her western star husband, Rex Bell moved to Searchlight and their 'Walking Box Ranch', where they eventually raised a family.

      Who Are You?

      Map it!

      A markerGhost Town No More -
      "Searchlight, Nevada"
      get directions

      Famous People of Searchlight

      World War II Pilot, a Senator, and Costume Designer


      illiam Harrell Nellis flew 70 World War II combat missions and was shot down three times, the last time fatally. On April 30, 1950, the Las Vegas Air Force Base in Nevada was renamed Nellis Air Force Base in his honor. Continue Wm. Harrell Nellis


      Edith Head (October 28, 1897 - October 24, 1981) was an American costume designer who had a long career in Hollywood that garnered eight Academy Awards-more than any other woman in history.

      She was born Edith Claire Posener in Searchlight, Nevada[1], the daughter of Max Posener and Anna E. Levy. Her father was a mining engineer in the gold mine there. Whether her parents were married is unknown but, in 1901, her mother married Frank Spare and Edith was passed off as his child. Though her birth parents were Jewish, Head would claim to be a Catholic later in life. Continued Edith Head


      he Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokesmen for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. By rule, the Presiding Officer gives the Majority Leader priority in obtaining recognition to speak on the floor of the Senate. Continued Senator Harry Reid

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      How Did Searchlight Get It's Name?

      George F. Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897 and supposedly said that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore.

      George F. Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897 and supposedly said that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore.

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        Some say Colton was lighting a Searchlight brand of matches when he discovered the gold ore.

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          I am Glad Your Search Brought You Here!

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              jolou 7 years ago

              The tea party rally put Searchlight on the map! Thanks for this informative lens, it was very interesting.