Randsburg, CA

 

Randsburg, CA is located in Kern County, roughly 17 miles south of Ridgecrest.

The camp known as Rand Camp was founded in 1895 when gold was discovered at Rand Mine, in 1896 the first post office was opened and the town of Randsburg was official. The Yellow Aster Mine in Randsburg became one of the largest gold mines in California, by 1899 the mine employed over 150 men with payroll exceeding $13,000 per month.By the turn of the century Randsburg was the home of over 3,500 people, with well over 300 buildings (not including dugouts, stone houses, and shacks). It is estimated that by the close of 1900, that well over $3,000,000 worth of gold had been removed from the mining district.

Unlike most ghost towns you will find Randsburg to still be an active community. Randsburg currently has 69 residents (as of the 2010 census) still living within the town,  numerous small businesses selling antiques, as well as a hotel, two churches, two saloons and restaurants. A majority of the store fronts, and homes in the community are original structures. Numerous mines can be viewed on the mountains surrounding the town, sadly the Yellow Aster Mine mentioned above is off-limits to the public.

In recent years the town as welcomed in the off-road community, which can make the weekends from September – May a bit undesirable to folks who want to explore and enrich themselves in the history in the area.

A few of the must see sites include the original White House Saloon, on the weekends they are still serving up hot food and cold beverages. The original town jail complete with its two comfy jail cells. The General Store, which serves up beverages from their old fashion soda fountain. A walk through the residential area is also highly encouraged, as it’s just as interesting as the business district. Most of the town’s business district is filled with antique shops, most of which is junk. You also have to watch carefully as I’ve spotted a number of these stores selling replicas without mentioning the fact. This is especially true with the glassware being sold, so watch yourself and don’t get swindled into buying something that you expect to be antique which in fact isn’t.

With all of this said, Randsburg is the most preserved ghost town in Kern County. It is a must see for any ghost town enthusiast.

White House Saloon - Randsburg, CA

White House Saloon – Randsburg, CA

 

 

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.

3 Comments

  • I first visited Randsburg in May of 2010. I found the town the be quite charming and enjoyable to visit. I have since been back several times.

    However, I have some very bad, depressing, and outright infuriating news to report. In April of 2011, I returned to Randsburg for another visit, and almost immediately noticed that something was out of place with the town as compared to how I had seen it on my last visit.

    According to a conversation that I had with the woman who works at the Charlie’s Ore House antique shop, my worst fears were realized – the wonderfully persevered and awe inspiring 5-stamp mill at the east end of town had been completely destroyed, vandalized, and vaporized by the BLM due to it being a “public safety hazard.”

    Really? You really going to go there BLM? If it was so much of a “safety hazard”, why not go clog up the dozens of dangerous open mine shafts around town?

    No, what I suspect really happened, is that with today’s poor economy and the now somewhat lucrative metals market, the mill was taken apart and sold for scrap – they even dismantled and carted away the old steel water tank that stood next to the mill. Why?

    The BLM’s own website claims that it, “works to conserve the essential fabric of the West.” Yeah right. They wantonly destroyed an incredible piece of California’s historical western history. If a mere Mundane (us citizens) had done such a thing, we’d be locked up and the key would be thrown away.

    That was the best stamp mill I have ever seen in California. What they did is an outrage and needless to say, I was piping mad for days afterwords! To this day, I still get quite upset everytime I think about what happened. The destruction of the mill is an affront and a slap in the face to everyone who has worked for, or strives for, the preservation and protection of western sites, structures, and history. It also does not bode well for the future of Randsburg and it’s other “metal heavy” sites.

    My only consolation now, is that I had the foresight to take several pictures of the mill in May of 2010. Enjoy my photos. (that is, if you can without your stomach turning into knots.)

Leave a Comment