Along with the summer heat brings a slowdown in my sand dune adventures. I’ll still get a day trip in here and there, mostly to the big dunes at night or a day’s ride in at Pismo but for the most part a general slowdown. However, summer is a great time to pursue my other interest which is checking out old mining and ghost towns around Southern California. There is so much history and many silent artifacts of this state’s history scattered around and just hidden enough to be missed by the casual observer. I love reading about the booms and busts of these old towns that in some cases had a direct impact in the formation of many cities still around.
Take Los Angeles for example. A major portion of the city’s water comes from the Owens valley over a hundred miles away. Aqueducts and pipelines bring millions of gallons of water every day. Owens valley had industries built supporting the expansion of LA back in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Along with water, gold, silver, lead, zinc, and dolomite were exported from Owens. I always seem to return to Owens valley, always another town or place of interest to visit.
One such place on my list is a town high in the Inyo Mountains on the east side of the valley. Located at close to 9000 feet up is the town of Cerro Gordo. The town sprang up as the centerpiece of operations for the numerous mining camps in the area. With a hotel (still functioning), shops, brothels, bars, and a tramway to the town below (Keeler), Cerro Gordo was a thriving and prosperous town. Lead and silver were this areas prime export. Over the years, the town became privately owned and the hotel along with some of the buildings were maintained or moderately updated. A caretaker lives in the town and in the summer months, a volunteer caretaker/tour guide also lives there.
Cerro Gordo is a well preserved town with a great history and an awesome visit spot. The internet has much information on the area. The road in is about eight miles, steep and 4 wheel drive is recommended. A winter visit is not recommended as the snow can get pretty high. The road in is dirt and if wet, can make conditions treacherous. Please enjoy some of the photos I took of the town and the area at this link. Or, just click on the photo. http://www.nealrideoutphotography.com/cerro_gordo