By Cara Anderson
Nipton, California, an unincorporated town inhabited by six people, was recently bought by American Green. Nipton is on the Northeastern border of the Mojave National Preserve, about an hour from Las Vegas.
In 1905, a pocket of gold was found near what is now Nipton, which drew the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad company to build there and create the Nippeno Camp. When the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad merged with the Union Pacific Railroad, Nippeno Camp was renamed Nipton and became a supply depot for mines.
When the mines dried up, Nipton was abandoned and relatively useless until 1984, when Gerald Freeman bought the town. Freeman renovated the existing hotel, general store, and cafe. He was a proponent of self-sustained living, so he installed a solar farm in the town that supplies 50% of Nipton’s electricity. Thus grew the slogan “Nipton, powered by the sun.”
Gerald Freeman passed away last September; his wife Roxanne Lang is the seller of Nipton. The 80-acre town had been for sale since January 2016 with an asking price of a cool $5 million in cash.
While Nipton has been desolate for a long time, there’s great potential for the area. Considering the solar farm and that there is well water there, cannabis/hemp farms could take off. Nipton’s new owner, American Green, is a public company with over 50,000 shareholders. Their plans for Nipton include turning the Old West ghost town into California’s Cannabis Mecca. Their plans will generate jobs and tourism; with areas for legal cannabis consumption as well as growing and processing facilities. I imagine a peaceful version of Westworld with a splash of Palm Springs and a constant flow of happy-go-lucky stoners.
Like the gold rush fizzled and faded, as did the coal mining heydays. Many US towns that flourished during their coal mining days were left dilapidated after oil, and nuclear power plants took over. The residents and miners of defunct coal towns were left with a flailing economy and major health issues like black lung.
Unlike gold and coal mining, the green rush offers a sustainable market that will boost communities and likely not flop. The workers on hemp crop and marijuana farms will only be subjected to lung problems if they choose to twist tobacco up in their spliffs.