Working Together: Tonopah High School and the Town of Tonopah
Every day and each night there are visitors and locals alike exploring the Old Tonopah Cemetery, made famous by its proximity to the Clown Motel and an episode of Ghost Adventures. The Cemetery has been painstakingly caretaken and researched by Allen Metscher, President of the Central Nevada Historical Society.
Allen has been working in the Old Cemetery for 38 years, where he has replaced wooden grave markers, looked up death certificates, researched deaths in the old newspapers, added dates and causes of death, and kept the cemetery from falling into disrepair. Last semester, Dr. Whelan’s Tonopah High School Leadership Class and Town of Tonopah’s Tourism/Events Coordinator Shari Bombard worked together to add a little bit more — a walking tour video of the Old Tonopah Cemetery and a brochure to accompany it.
Using the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website, Shari’s previous research in the Cemetery from her work on Tonopah’s Ghost Walks and Dr. Whelan’s expertise with videography, the group spent an entire semester researching graves, writing a grant application to TravelNevada to fund printing the brochure, and creating and narrating the video.
Some of the fascinating “permanent residents” of the cemetery include: Big Bill Murphy, local hero and victim of the Sept. 23, 1911 Belmont Mine Fire; George “Devil” Davis, owner of the Eureka Saloon and political leader of the Tonopah African American community, who was shot in the back by his wife while playing pool; the Marojevich Brothers, who were killed by a runaway ore cart; and New York socialite Bina Verrault, who fled prosecution in New York City for swindling rich gentlemen out of over $100,000 in cash, clothing and jewelry ($2.2 million in today’s dollars) only to end up dead in Tonopah a year later. (Her story made headlines all over the world.)
If you would like to learn more about the Old Tonopah Cemetery and some of its “permanent residents,” please check out the YouTube video “Tonopah Old Cemetery Tour.”
The brochure is headed to the printer and will be at the Old Tonopah Cemetery, at businesses around Tonopah and online at www.tonopahnevada.com by the end of September. The entire project was made possible by the collaboration between the Tonopah High School and the Town of Tonopah, as well as grant funding from TravelNevada. See you in Tonopah!
— Shari Bombard