Trek Date: July 7th, 2013
The Ghost Town of Reward, Cal dates back to the early 1860s, when the Eclipse Mine began operations. It was the first gold mine in the Owens Valley and operated off and on until the 1980s. The town of Reward became official in the year 1900, when a Post Office was established there. The gold must have begun to give out soon thereafter, however, as the Post Office closed in 1906, generally a sign that the population was moving away.
I found Reward just north of Lone Pine and a few miles east of Hwy 395 along the Manzanar Reward Road. Finding the old ghost town was a reward in itself. The first thing that caught my eye was the multi-colored slopes ahead of me as I drove towards the site. At the base of the mountains I found a few crumbling stone walls which once may have been homes, stores or office buildings. I love finding places like this, trying to imagine what it may have looked like 100 years ago. A little farther up the canyon I came across all kinds of interesting mining equipment, ore bins and other things that made me wonder what they were. I could have spent hours just looking through the piles of tailings at all the sparkly rocks.
Up higher in the canyon, I hiked towards some impressive head frames and mining works. The terrain was very rocky on the trail up and the rocks seemed to move on their own, perhaps trying to twist my ankle, but I fooled them. Although next time I will wear hiking boots rather than sneakers.
After getting back to my truck, I started along the dirt road that went northwards around the bend, but as the road got very rocky very quickly, I decided to save that journey for another time. I've recently learned that there are mines and tunnels all through this mountain, so I'll be back soon to see what I can find.
For more history of Reward, check out Death Valley Jim’s page here.