Cantil, CA

Cantil was established in either 1908 or 1909 as a stop on the Nevada and California Railroad. The first homesteaders didn’t arrive in the area until 1911, at which time they found the name “Cantil” on a sign beside the platform next to the railroad.

Before the communities first post office was established in 1916, the train stopped at Cantil long enough to drop off freight and leave a bag of mail on a metal hook along the railway. Residents would sift through the mailbag for their mail.

A Post Office was established in 1914 at the Cantil General Store. The same year a one room schoolhouse was constructed.

In 1945 the General Store closed, the Post Office continued to operate in the General Store building until 1948. Martin Engel of the Yellow Aster Mining Company (Randsburg, CA) was a resident of Cantil, in 1948 he moved his assayer’s office to his property, and the Post Office was relocated to his assayer’s office. Engle became the Postmaster until his retirement in 1972.

In the mid-1940’s, Cantil became a short-lived agricultural center.

The famous female aviator, Pancho Barnes made residence in Cantil in the 1950s after her Happy Bottom Riding Club aka “Rancho Oro Verde Fly-Inn Dude Ranch” burned down in 1953.

Today, Cantil consists of roughly 57 homes spread out across the desert. There are many abandoned structures including the Red Rock Elementary School. It’s not clear when the school closed it’s doors, the last known information I have been able to locate is a  graduating class of 2005.






About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.