One of the most interesting things about the town of Goldfield, Nevada is that the dead now far outnumber the living. There are approximately 1,200 people buried in the city cemetery and according to the 2010 census, only 248 people currently reside in Goldfield.
The original cemetery was located close to the railroad tracks and once the Goldfield Hotel was built, city officials thought visitors to the city, especially those staying at the hotel, should not be greeted by the cemetery once stepping off the train. In 1908, the bodies of 70 pioneers were moved from the original cemetery to the new cemetery which is located right on the edge of town.
Most of the tombstones are made from crudely cut stone, and volunteers over the years have kept the inscriptions visible by painting them red. A lot of the stones are simply marked miner, or unknown.
When I learned that I would be visiting Goldfield, I was excited to learn that one of my favorite headstones was located in the Goldfield Cemetery. I know, I know, it doesn’t take much for a girl like me to get excited. But this isn’t just any old headstone……
It is the Unknown Man who died from eating library paste on July 14th, 1908.
Not much is known about this poor soul, but times were often tough in Goldfield, money was hard to come by and many people were hungry. I’m also guessing he was probably older, and not in the best of health to begin with. Apparently, he took a jar of library paste and decided it would be better than eating nothing at all. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that library paste contained alum and clove oil, which, in high enough quantities is toxic. Or perhaps the paste didn’t kill him, and he was just unlucky enough to die with a jar of it nearby, forever to be known as the Unknown Man who died from eating library paste.