Dunmovin, CA (Cowan Station)

 

If you’ve driven Highway 395 it is very likely that you’ve passed the dilapidated ruins of Dunmovin. Come on now, you know the place. It is located about four miles north of the Coso Junction Rest Area, there is an old stone building siting directly along the west side of the highway, along with a dozen other small buildings and trailers behind it. A for sale sign has been posted at the location for an untold number of years. If that doesn’t ring a bell, I’m sure the photographs will help.

 

Dunmovin Gas and Service Station during its heyday.

Dunmovin Gas and Service Station during its heyday.

 

Dunmovin got its start as a freight wagon station along the trail from Cerro Cordo to Los Angeles sometimes in the 1890s or early 1900s. At the time it was known as Cowan Station, owned and operated by James Cowan an early settler of Owens Valley, and an organizer for the Western Federation of Mines. When Los Angeles began construction of the aqueduct they piped water down from Talus Canyon in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Cowan Station, likely to provide a water source for their workers.

In 1936 Cowan sold the property to his partner Charles King and his wife Hilda. The Kings changed the name to Dunmovin, I guess they liked the place so much that they were done moving. Eventually there were other families living in the immediate area, and in 1938 a post office was briefly opened, closing in 1941. Dunmovin would move forward as a roadside stop for weary travelers. A gas station and service center was opened, along with a café, general store, and cabins that could be rented by the night.

 

Abandoned home in Dunmovin.

Abandoned home in Dunmovin.

 

Dunmovin

Dunmovin

 

The Kings changed their minds in 1961, deciding to move on from Dunmovin. They sold the town and businesses, and the new owners kept the dream alive for sometime after, but evently also moved on. Since that time Dunmovin has largely been abandoned and for sale.

Today the site of Dunmovin looks more like the set of the next Texas Chainsaw Massacre than a cute little roadside attraction. The buildings are largely deteriorated, vandalised, and crumbling from their foundations. I half suspected to find a dead body, or a sanatorium escapee, possibly both huddled in the corner of one of the structures. Thankfully I didn’t.

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.