Tag Archives: Randsburg
The Steam Wells Petroglyphs are located within the Golden Valley Wilderness boundaries near the Rand Mining District. From highway 395 take Trona Road for 1.3 miles. Turn right on RM1444, and follow for 4 miles. At the 4 mile mark you will see the trail head on the left. There is a small parking area to the right. It is recommended that you have at the minimum a high clearance 2WD to make the drive.
From the trail head the hike to the petroglyphs is roughly 1 mile. Most of the hike will be up hill, but not at a drastic incline. There are no specific markers on the trail that point out the exact location of the petroglyphs, but once you reach a wooden fence guard continue to your right. You will see a basaltic outcropping. Climb to the top of the outcropping (roughly 100 feet), here is where you will find the Steam Wells Petroglyphs.
Sadly a number of the petroglyphs have been chipped out by vandals and thieves. Others have had modern people deface them by scratching in the rocks directly beside them. If you are a regular visitor to my site I would hope that I don’t need to remind you to leave everything as you found it, but I’ll mention it anyway just in case! These early man pieces of art can never be replaced, please respect them so that future generations may enjoy them as well.
The petroglyphs at Steam Wells are believed to date back close to 1,000 years when the Kawaiisu occupied this territory. It is known that the Kawaiisu made these particular style of petroglyphs near permanent water sources.
Once you’ve visited the petroglyphs head back down to the fence guard, and continue up the small canyon. Here you will find the ruins from an old stone cabin, a collapsed mine, and one of many steam wells in the area. This area was mined in the 1930′s, the steam wells had been made to help power these activities. The steam wells have all been sealed off, however they are known to leak a bit, releasing a rather pungent stench.
All and all, this is a worthy trip. You can expect to spend a couple of hours at the minimum exploring the area. Once you are finished here, head back to the highway and visit Randsburg, Johannesburg, or Red Mountain. These three semi-ghosts towns offer much to explore.
Saltdale, Ca is located between Cantil and Garlock off of Redrock Randsburg Road. If you are coming from Highway 14 turn onto Redrock Randsburg Road, and follow it for 6.3 miles. Keep an eye out for Saltdale Road, and turn right onto it. Cross the railroad tracks and you have found the ruins of Saltdale. From Highway 395 turn on Garlock Road and follow it for 8.3 miles. At the fork in the road continue straight on Redrock Randsburg Road for 5.8 miles. Turn left on Saltdale Road.
Saltdale is not an area that you hear much about, or anything about for that matter. I’ve driven past this ghost camp 100′s of times in the last 4 years never knowing that there was anything of interest here. I had noticed recently through my website statistics that some visitors have come here searching for information on Saltdale. Because of this I decided to use my trusty friend Google Maps to see if anything remained there of interest. Sure enough I was able to see that a number of ruins remained. So on this lackluster Tuesday afternoon I hoped in the car and made the 20 minute drive to Saltdale.
The first happenings around what would become Saltdale began between 1909 and 1913, when 60 claims were filed by Thomas Thorkildsen and Thomas H. Rosenberger. While most mining claims in this area were for gold, the claims filed here were for salt. Located on the Koehn Lake is a ”moist” playa, in which shallow ground water rises to the surface, carrying with it salt, which is deposited in the desert playa lake. In 1913 most of Thomas Thorkildsen and Thomas H. Rosenberger claim’s in the area had been sold to Diamond Salt Company of Los Angeles, whom in return sold them to The Consolidated Salt Company in 1914.
By October of 1914 The Consolidated Salt Company was shipping 240 tons or more of salt per week. By June of 1915 that weekly number is estimated to have increased to 720 tons. In 1916 the company went from a staff of 30 men to 65 men, and the company built a 4-story mill. That same year they ran into some issues because Southern Pacific wasn’t able to supply enough cars to haul all the salt being processed away, which caused close to a five month shipping backlog. 1916 also was the year that the Saltdale Post Office was established.
Between 1916-1918 two prospector by the names of T. Y. DeFoor and Philo H. Crisp located 111 claims on the Kohen Lake. They sold each of these 20 acre claims for $2.50 each to the Fremont Salt Company. Fremont Salt Company built a plant on the east side in 1917.
During this same period Consolidated had went from employing 65 men, down to only about 6. However there was still a good amount of families living in the Saltdale area, this caused Kern County to establish the Saltdale School District in 1920. No school-house would ever be built, and by 1921 the Saltdale School District would be absorbed by the Garlock School District just one year later.
1924 would see the return of the school back to Saltdale. Consolidated set aside a shack next to the plant that would double as a school-house. Saltdale’s school would become the poorest ranked district in the county.
Henry Fenton, the owner of Western Salt Company would arrive on the scene at Saltdale in 1927. Western Salt purchased Long Beach Salt Company, which bought out Fremont Salt Company. The Fremont plant would be dismantled, and they consolidated with the Consolidated plant. Around this same time a business district would pop up in Saltdale consisting of a company store, post office, service station, and the school (which underwent a major face lift including an expansion, and a paint job).
The nearest town to Saltdale with a significant population was Randsburg, which was nearly 16 miles away. Because of this Saltdale suffered from not have a justice of peace, constable or jail. Crime was easy to commit here, and in one single night in 1928 the company store was robbed multiple times. It was said by one of the town figureheads that they, “feel sure it was strangers and we feel sure no one around here would commit a felony”.
In 1931 Southern Pacific built a modern loading platform to handle the shipments of salt, gypsite, and pumice.
In 1933 the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 was based which made salt no longer a mineral which could be acquired with mining claims. That same year 36 association placer claims were filed by the Long Beach Salt Company on Koehn Lake, allegedly for placer gold. They say that the 1930′s were prosperous for Saltdale, but things took a turn for the worst in the 1940′s and 50′s.
By 1949 only 3 works remained at Saltdale, and the Post Office was closed in 1950. The school district was completely dissolved in 1951. The mill was modernized in the 1950′s however it didn’t bring new jobs as it was able to be operated by just a handful of men.
In 1975 the mill would be closed, and Saltdale would slip into oblivion.
Today the remains of Saltdale are quite evident (despite my not thinking so originally). The loading platform sits directly across the railroad track along with a few old railroad cars. A walk down what would have likely have been the main business district you will find the floor boards of numerous buildings are still in tact, while the walls and roofs of these buildings lay collapsed beside them. Foundations lay scattered throughout the desert from various unknown buildings. Railroad ties lead out into the salt bed, but have been eaten badly by the salt that lies beneath them. As you approach the mining area you will find one structure that remains, but is well on it’s way to the same fate that the rest of the buildings and the town have already succumbed to, collapse.
Garlock, CA is located on the southern side of the El Paso Mountain Range. It can easily be reached from either Highway 395 or Route 14 near Red Rock Canyon State Park. From Route 14 turn right on Redrock Randsburg Rd., follow for 12 miles, take the Garlock Rd. turn-off and within a mile you will arrive. From Highway 395 turn on to Garlock Rd., and follow for 7 and a half miles.
The town of Garlock has had many names, El Paso City and Cow Wells being the earliest two dating back to the 1880′s. In 1896 the newspaper The Californian would begin calling the town Eugeneville, and a 1898 Los Angeles Daily Times article would site the town as Garlock. Both Eugeneville and Garlock are named after the Tehachapi business man Eugene Garlock who would begin erecting an eight-stamp mill at the location in 1895.
The mill at Garlock opened in 1896, and in a short time there was enough demand that five additional mills would be built. During this period the Rand Mining district was going strong and there wasn’t a mill located in Randsburg. All of the ore that was mined in the Randsburg area was shipped nine miles down the mountain to Garlock for processing.
In 1899 Garlock would reach it’s peak with several hundred residents. There never were many buildings in Garlock, they did however have a school-house which also doubled as a church, and meeting place for social groups. A post office operated in Garlock from 1896-1904, and again from 1923-1926. The original Garlock post office still stands today.
1903 would pretty well see the end of Garlock, by the end of the year all the residents had packed up and moved on. The mills at Garlock would still process small amounts of ore until 1907. The addition of the mill at the Yellow Aster Mine in Randsburg was ultimately the cause of death for Garlock.
At the Garlock town site today you will find that a majority of the buildings have been fenced in to keep vandals out. One of the most impressive buildings still standing is the original post office, which was built out of railroad ties. The flag pole is still attached to building, all that is missing is the good old red, white and blue.
One of the most interesting artifacts at Garlock is an arrastre, it is the oldest known tool for removing gold from ore. The arrastre consists of low rock wall banked around large, flat and level stones. In a hole in the center is an upright post, and on this pivots a long beam. A donkey or mule was hardnessed to the end of the beam providing power by walking in a circle around the outside walls. A chain bolted midway on the beam pulled a heavy drag stone. The ore was crushed between the stones.
Here are some interesting newspaper quotes I found while research Garlock:
THE CALIFORNIAN, BAKERSFIELD- January 27, 1896:
“Eugene Garlock, the Tehachapi capitalist, is erecting a ten stamp mill at Cow Wells (eight miles from the camp), with a capacity of twenty tons per day.”
THE CALIFORNIAN, February 11, 1896:
“Eugene Garlock is rapidly pushing his eight-stamp mill to completion at Cow Wells and will be ready to haul and crush ore by the 20th of this month.”
THE CALIFORNIAN, February 18, 1896:
“The new eight stamp mill of Eugene T. Garlock, at Eugeneville, near Goler, under the supervisor of Mr. Lovejoy, the contractor, is rapidly being built. The building proper is 50 x 75, with other additions adjoining. The concentrator and sulphuret rooms are completed and ready to receive their machinery. The large battery blocks are all framed and will be placed in the battery pit in a day or two. The ore bins are about completed and will hold 600 tons. The stamps weigh 900 pounds each, which is a sufficient weight to do good work, in crushing the rock of that district. Mr. Garlock informed your correspondent that he expected to have the mill completed by the first of March. There is not the slightest doubt but what twenty-five more stamps will be added next year, as the Randsburg company alone have enough ore in sight to keep a 100 stamp mill running steadily for the next fifty years. This is a fact. With the completion of the mill, Eugeneville will become one of the best mining camps in the State.”
THE CALIFORNIAN, March 13,1896:
“RANDSBURG REVALATIONS: The great snow storm which began a week ago last Monday somewhat retarded operations, however. Mr. Garlock found on firing up the engine last week that the timbers were too light to hold it in place, and went over to Tehachapi to haul out heavier ones. This will necessitate perhaps a fortnight delay, and Messrs. Burcham, Mooer and Singleton have gone to pounding up rich rock in the 180-pound mortar furnished by the Utica mine at Angels.”
THE CALIFORNIAN, March 18, 1896:
“The Butte Mining Company of Randsburg has a force of 16 men at work and is making great headway toward taking out ore, which is being milled at present at Cow Wells at the Garlock mill.”
CALIFORNIA STATE MINING BUREAU, Thirteenth Report of the State Mineralogist for the two years ending September 15, 1896:
“Garlocks Custom MillIt is at Caldwell, 30 miles North of Mojave, at 2420 altitude, and has 8 stamps of 750 lbs. weight, using No. 9 slot screens. Only 4 stamps are running about two hours per day, for want of water. Water is obtained from a bored well 200 deep. A shaft is being sunk to provide water enough to run the full mill night and day. Wood is hauled 60 miles from Tehachapi. U. S. Garlock, of Mojave, owner.”
THE LOS ANGELES DAILY TIMES, May 20, 1898:
“THE RAND MOUNTAIN: The ore from the Rand, which is milled at Garlock by the Henry, Garlock, and Visalia mills, averages considerably over $30 to the ton. Plans are now being drawn for a big mill to be part of the Yellow Aster plant. Thirty stamps will be the first capacity of the mill, and steam power will be used. It will be arranged to add more stamps up to 100 is that number can be used. The ore is said to be getting richer with depth.”
RANDSBURG MINER August 30, 1906:
“The Garlock quartz mill, which had been running on tailings for some time, closed down a few days ago.–Tomahawk”
RANDSBURG MINER December 26, 1907:
“Although we have no certain knowledge of the fact we copy from the Californian of Bakersfield the notice of Mr. Garlocks death and burial at Santa Anna on the 24th inst. Mr. Garlock has resided in Kern County for the past twenty years and was prominent a farmer at Tehachapi and as a miner on the desert.
“The fact is that he was taken seriously ill with sore eyes at Garlock some six weeks ago and when the Masonic Club at this place discovered his condition the editor of the Miner drove down to Garlock with a team furnished by Mr. Burcham and brought him here to the Yellow Aster Hospital where he was cared for and treated by Dr. Sabichi for five weeks, the club furnishing a night nurse. On the 12th of this month his troubles increased by a stroke of paralysis and he became unconscious. On Friday evening the 12th he was sent to his brothers in Los Angeles, Walter Mattingly, a young man from here being sent with him. And now it appears that he is dead and buried. It is better so, being blind and helpless, the once strong and active man was source of sympathy to all who knew him. We feel glad that we were able to help him even a little.”
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 motel, 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 (pictured above), on the weekends they are still serving up hot food and cold beverages. The original town jail complete with it’s 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.