How many beer bottles does it take to build a house?
That’s a good question and you should be able to find the answer when you visit the Tom Kelly Bottle House in Nevada. But the answer varies. According to two sources, it’s between 30,000 to 50,000 bottles. The bulk of those are unwashed beer bottles but if you look closely, you may find whiskey, soda and a few medicine bottles as well.
In 1906, Tom Kelly, began to construct his bottle house from discarded bottles he collected from local saloons in the town of Rhyolite, located along the eastern edge of Death Valley. The now defunct ghost town was booming and lumber was in short supply.
It took this 76-year old miner six months to complete this home, which I think is safe to say is the ultimate “upcycle” project.
The prosperity of this gold rush town didn’t last and when the gold dried up, so did the town. The home was abandoned sometime between 1912- 1914.
The home sat empty until around 1925 when it was restored and reroofed by Paramount Pictures to be used as a setting for the silent film, The Air Mail, an action movie starring Warner Baxter, Billie Dove, Mary Brian and Douglas Fairbanks.
This historical site was then maintained as a museum with various inhabitants until 1956.
Today there is a locked fence that surrounds the property. Visitors are able to get a closer look only when the gate is open and the caretaker is on property. No one is permitted inside the structure.
I didn’t happen to visit when the gate was unlocked, but I did find this short video that offers a closer look, including the interior, of this roadside attraction.
You’ll find the Bottle House just off Hwy 374 within the Rhyolite Ghost Town, the largest in Death Valley National Park.
Do you enjoy roadside attractions? Here are a few others: