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Beatty lies 115 miles north of Las Vegas along Highway 95 in Nye County, Nevada. It is the lone surviving member of the once-illustrious Bullfrog Mining District founded in the early 1900s. The nearby ghost town of Rhyolite, some two miles east–one of the most photogenic abandoned mining towns in all the West–was also a member of this short-lived yet important silver-producing region, where stock speculation far outdistanced mineral exploitation as the liveliest, though riskiest venture to undertake. Today the gaunt brick-building carcasses of Rhyolite roast in the summer sun while Beatty flourishes near the entrance to Death Valley National Park, one of America’s most-visited natural treasures.

In addition to serving as a jumping-off point for visitors to Death Valley, Beatty is also the staging area for a truly remarkable fossil locality–the great Middle Ordovician mudmound/bioherm on the flanks of the mountains in the vicinity of town–a geologically and paleontologically fascinating unstratified pod-shaped accumulation of calcium carbonate, limestone, some 1,000 feet in length around which (and within the core of which) profuse invertebrate animal remains can be found. From a distance, the mountains within which the fossil locality lies appear to be an inhospitable moonscape of a place–a virtually barren upthrusting of desert rocks that overlook the Nevada Atomic Test Site to the immediate east; such a juxtaposition of locales–a direct reminder of our nuclear age in such proximity to a world-class Ordovician-Period fossil site–only serves to provide a greater aura of intrigue and mystery to a locality that contains such a wealth of prehistory to study.

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