Essex, Cal - Route 66

Essex, Cal - Route 66

Essex dates back to 1883, like most of the almost forgotten traveler's rests and small communities that dot the Mojave desert along Route 66. Lewis Kingman, a locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, named the water stops along the railroad route. He must have been a fan of alphabetically things, or maybe was directed to name the water stops in such a manner. So we have Amboy, Bristol, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Ibis, Java, Khartoum and so on. During the early years of the small railroad stop, the primary purpose was to supply the steam engines with water.

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Cadiz Summit, Cal - Route 66

Cadiz Summit, Cal - Route 66

Cadiz Summit dates back to 1883; it was named by Lewis Kingman, who was a locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. It was one of a series of railroad stations built across the Mojave Desert (Amboy, Bristol, Cadiz, Danby, Esses, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Ibis, Java, khartoum and so on). Back during those early years, Cadiz existed to supply water to the trains. And years later, when Route 66 was constructed, Cadiz served a similar purpose.

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Fossil Falls, Cal - U.S. 395

Fossil Falls, Cal - U.S. 395

Driving along U.S. 395, I’d often seen areas that looked like they had been blasted from the depths of the earth, the rocks melted and strewn across the barren landscape. And doesn’t that thing over there look like a cinder cone? What’s that rumbling?

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Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns, Cal - U.S. 395

Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns, Cal - U.S. 395

Thirteen miles south of Lone Pine/seven miles north of Cartago, an unremarkable dirt road heads east off U.S. 395 to the remains of two charcoal kilns and thence to the shoreline of the dry Owens Lake. The beehive-shaped kilns were built of clay bricks, and were then covered in plaster as protection against the elements. But why are they here?

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Olancha Sculpture Garden, Cal - U.S. 395

Olancha Sculpture Garden, Cal - U.S. 395

Have you ever found yourself speeding along a lonely stretch of road in the desert, or anywhere for that matter, only to catch something out of the corner of your eye and wonder, "What in the world was that?" Do you ever take the next opportunity to turn around and go back to investigate? That's how I often discover the most interesting places on a roadtrip.

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Heart Arch - Alabama Hills

Heart Arch - Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills are filled with rocks, western scenes and arches. Lots of arches. If you like to hike, this is a great place to visit. If you are a western movie fan, this is a great place to visit. If you enjoy getting away from everything, yes, this is a great place to visit.

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Arch Loop Trail - Alabama Hills

Arch Loop Trail - Alabama Hills

The Arch Loop Trail is a relatively easy trail to hike, well maintained and marked. There are a few portions of the trail that get your heart going a bit, but that's good for you. There is so much spectacular scenery to see along the trail - the Sierra Nevadas, rocky gulches and canyons, strange rock formations - that you might just miss the two famous arches if your not careful! 

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Whitney Portal Arch

Whitney Portal Arch

I had decided to visit two of the "Big Three" arches of the Alabama Hills; Whitney Portal Arch and Mobius Arch. Fordham's book easily guided me to the trailhead for Whitney Portal Arch. T-Red was the only car in the area; I got my gear and set off to Find The Arch.

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The Poste Homestead Site

The Poste Homestead Site

Mining and freighting activity has been going on in this part of the Mojave since at least the 1880s and possibly earlier. Freighters traveling from the railhead at Amboy to the Dale mining district often stopped at a place known as Lyon's Well, aka Freighters Dale. It was one of the few, if not the only, reliable source of water between those two points.

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Rice, Cal

Rice, Cal

I’d just finished exploring Desert Center and was on my way to see what I could find in Rice. It would be a 50-mile drive, and would take about 30 minutes to get there, unless I saw something interesting along the way. I made it to Rice in 30 minutes. Not to say that there aren’t interesting things to see along U.S. Route 177 between Desert Center and Rice, besides huge expanses of Colorado Desert. There are several U.S. Army Desert Training Camps which were in full operation during WWII, but the sites are well off the highway and have been almost completely returned to native habitat. There are also a number of off-road tracks leading to who-knows-where. But those are things for another day. I was in the mood for Rice.

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Desert Center, Cal

Desert Center, Cal

"Desert" Steve Ragsdale founded the community of Desert Center back in 1921. He had the large, adobe-style concrete Cafe, gasoline station and service garage built to entice travelers to stop in for food, gas and a shady spot to rest. Next to the cafe, he built a large "plunge," where travelers could escape the desert heat by taking a quick dip. A number of "cabins" on the west end of town provided a place to stay for folks who wanted to spend the night before continuing on their journey. A Post Office, general store, and other buildings opposite the Cafe were also built by Desert Steve and still stand today.

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Tuttle Creek Rock Houses, Cal

Tuttle Creek Rock Houses, Cal

I was in the Lone Pine area and didn't have enough time to thoroughly explore the Alabama Hills (that is going to happen though), so I hiked to a couple arches and drove to a couple old rock houses. This is the story of the Rock House Expedition.

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Swansea Petroglyphs

Swansea Petroglyphs

I'd heard about the Petroglyphs at Swansea from several sources and was confident I could locate them. They are located along what was once the bank of the Owens Lake, many years ago. How hard could it be? Advance research almost always pays dividends. Parking Tacoma Red off the side of the road, my Garmin and I set out to see the sights. 

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Manzanar National Historic Site, Cal

Manzanar National Historic Site, Cal

I had the opportunity to visit Manzanar on a recent roadtrip, and although it seems like there isn't much to see or learn from the almost "wiped-clean" relocation center, that is not the case. No matter where I went, the sense of history and the "ten thousand stories" seemed to resonate with me. Everywhere I looked, there were remnants of people's lives scattered about the location, but not in obvious ways. The thing that grabbed my attention the most were the remains of all the gardens that the camp inhabitants created, to make their temporary home a beautiful place.

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Devils Postpile National Monument

Devils Postpile National Monument

The first time I tried to visit the Devils Postpile, it was closed because of a government shutdown. That was in 2014. Luckily for me, the government was open on my next opportunity and so I was able to drop in for a visit.

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The Old Mill near Lida, Nevada

The Old Mill near Lida, Nevada

Search as I did, there was little to no information that I could find regarding what the building was used for, who owned it, a name, nothing. But it's pretty cool, and my guess is that at one time it held milling machinery inside, as there are plenty of mines in the nearby hills.

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Beatty, Nevada

Beatty, Nevada

I like Beatty. Whenever I plan a trip to Death Valley, if I'm not camping, I'll stay overnight in Beatty. The town was named after "Old Man" Montillus Murray Beatty, a Civil War veteran who bought a ranch along the Amargosa River just north of the future townsite. Over the years, it's had its share of ups and downs, seen several railroads, had its own newspaper (the Beatty Bullfrog Miner), several fancy hotels and casinos.

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