Winter Snowbird 2008-2009 travel blog

Hwy. 395 north from Four Corners, CA

Giant's Golf Course

Giant's golf ball

Atolia, CA

Head frames and remains of Atolia mines

Assay Office, Atolia, CA

Remains of processing plant at Atolia, CA

Remains of Atolia

Approaching the town of Red Mountain, CA

Randsburg, CA

Randsburg Head frame

Randsburg Jail

Red Neck RV in Randsburg, CA

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - Somewhere north of Four Corners, CA

Ghost Towns of U.S. Highway 395

Other than the traffic noise, which was light during the late night and early morning, it was nice to be in the middle of nowhere. I have an uncluttered view of Fremont Peak and accompanying range, with nothing but a giant’s golf course surrounding me. None of the scrub brush is taller than 18”, making the area look like a green golf course, and there is a very large golf ball on a tee out in the middle of it all. You’ll have to see the photos to see what I mean.

I weighed the options and decided that I would spend the day here, writing my updates and researching what there is to see and do along US 395. I discovered that there are no less than six ghost or semi-ghost towns just north of me, and that the Japanese internment camp, Manzanar, has a new interpretive center that recently opened. I will plan on seeing them as I move north, taking my time and probably dry camping along the way.

Manzanar has a volunteer archeological dig that operates in May, so I want to look into that and see if I might be able to take part in it. I am still researching more information about the camp and will report it after my visit.

Well, I managed to spend the majority of today on the computer and only took Zack out once, other than his short trips to use his outdoor potty, so I will take him out to run around a little more before feeding him his dinner, and send this now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 -

After another nights rest, I awoke to a sunny clear day that promises to be as hot or hotter than yesterday. I usually try to park with the front of the motor home facing east or southeast so the living and kitchen area don’t get too hot as the afternoon sun sinks into the west. The problem with that is that the bedroom gets hot and going to sleep at night can be difficult. If it is really hot in the afternoon, I’ll run the rear air conditioner before going to bed, so the room is cool at bedtime.

I did research on the ghost towns near by and had my coffee and a little breakfast, leaving the area by 11 AM. The first ghost town we came to is Atolia, which is right on Hwy 395. Atolia was a Tungsten mine that started about 1905. The name came from two of the mines officers, Atkins and Degolia. At one time there were 2000 people living here. There was a dairy, a movie theatre, and the Bucket of Blood saloon. Head frames and mines pepper the landscape for as far as you can see.

I found a place off the road to park and Zack and I hiked the short distance to the heart of the area and explored all of the buildings and some of the shafts, which go straight down who knows how far. Even though the mineshafts are fenced off, I kept a tight rein on Zack, making sure he wouldn’t get into trouble.

Although there is one residence that has been maintained and lived in, about the only remains of houses were foundations with some rock walls. One wood frame house that is still standing, has the front porch right on the shoulder of Hwy 395, with the remaining buildings have to do with the mining and processing of the tungsten ore.

It was a hot day and Zack began panting hard, so we headed back to the motor home for the protection of shade and some cool water. After resting and cooling off, having drank our fill of water; we headed for Red Mountain, which was the next town on the highway.

Red Mountain was only over the next rise and isn’t a true ghost town as it boasts over 300 residents and is spread out over a large area. Three men, C.A. Burcham, F.M. Mooers and John Singleton, discovered the town, and it was called Rand Camp and later called Yellow Aster Mine, and finally Red Mountain. In 1896 the population was 1500, and the first official post office was established on April 16,1896. By 1899, the population jumped to 3,500 people and the Orpheum Theater was built. In 1900, a new grammar school was built and a 100 stamp mill, one of the largest ever built, was added to process the ore.

Because the town is still heavily populated, and spread out over two mountainsides, I didn’t even stop to explore, but instead moved on to the next ghost town of Johannesburg, which is almost a part of Red Mountain, but there is much less to see. Again, I didn’t bother to get off the highway to explore, but continued on to Randsburg.

Randsburg is advertised as “A Living Ghost Town,” and is located a short drive off Hwy 395. It has several of the original buildings, with many places of curiosity to explore. I drove through the main street and then a side street, making a complete loop through town. Because there wasn’t any place to park the motor home with the tow car, I snapped a few photos from the vehicle and then continued back to Hwy 395 and the next town.

Randsburg reminded of so many towns that died and then became a tourist attraction, so I wasn’t that interested in looking in the antique shop, Charlie’s Ore House, or stopping at the Hole In The Wall Mercantile. I reconnected with Hwy 395 and took the turn off to the next ghost town, Garlock, which is 8 miles off the highway.

Garlock consists of a small occupied ranch house behind a fence and hedge, and two buildings that are in such a state of disrepair that I passed right by thinking it was just an abandoned ranch. There were no signs or indications that it was Garlock. After traveling another 13 miles just to find a place to turn around, I headed back to Hwy 395 to continue my trip.

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