Visit Date: October 6, 2015
I was driving north on California SR 127, heading towards Shoshone. I had read about some intriguing "cave homes" located in what is known as "Dublin Gulch. Somewhere along the way I saw this mountain and had to stop to take its picture, the colors spoke to me.
A little farther along the road, I spotted this lone corner remnant of an abandoned and forgotten building. I slowed down as quickly as possible (80 mph to zero in roughly 280 feet) and heading back to check it out. On the other side of the road are some small bits of foundation ruins and a sign that explains this was the former site of the Amargosa Borax Works.
Apparently, the Amargosa Borax Works facility worked in conjunction with the Harmony Borax Works located in Death Valley. When the summer months got too hot in Death Valley, the borax wouldn't crystallize so it was hauled to this site to be processed. This kept the borax production going all year round. SR 127 runs right through what was once the mill complex; bits and pieces of ruins are located on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, it had rained the night before I visited and I couldn't do much exploring as the ground was a soupy, muddy conglomeration of ooze that tried desperately to suck me down into depths of unknown, um, well, dark deepness when I took a few hesitant steps towards some attractive foundation ruins. (I promise that will be the longest sentence you, constant reader, will be subjected to while reading this post)
Dublin Gulch is located on the southern edge of Shoshone, California. I wasn't able to track down a lot of history on the place, but here are some generalities which are most likely accurate. The caves were dug into solidified volcanic ash that reportedly came from a Lava Creek eruption in Yellow Stone National Park, over 600 thousand years ago. One account claims they were dug in the early 1900s, another puts their creation during the late 1870s when a silver boom at the nearby Noonday Mines was in full swing. Regardless of when they were created, they are pretty amazing.
Miners were most likely the first occupants of the cave homes in Dublin Gulch, but others lived here as well after the miners moved on to better prospects. In fact, some of the cave homes were still in use up until the 1970s. A number of them were comprised of several rooms, one even having a split level. Shorty Harris, of Death Valley fame, is reported to have lived here at one time.
Of course, vandals being the stupid, selfish, ignorant plague on traveling photographers that they are, all of the cave homes in Dublin Gulch are locked and cannot be entered. Which is a good thing actually, otherwise I'm sure said vandals would have totally trashed the insides of these homes. It seems that there must be a local group who keeps an eye on things in the gulch, as there are a few trails in the area and some informational signs about the region and things seem to be well cared for.
Looking through the screen on the door in the photo above. Some of the rooms are quite large, this one no doubt needing a bit of support to keep the ceiling from caving in.
A look across the gulch at one of the more impressive homes. Checkout the stone wall on the right. Here's a closer image, click on it to enlarge the photo. I would have loved to have been able to go into some of these cave homes. Fortunately, most of them have windows in the doors so you can look inside.
Back to the side of the gulch I was on. There are five or six cave homes along this stretch of canyon wall.
Looking in the window, this room goes straight back and then turns to the left. I wonder how far back it goes. I think there was a stove of some kind in the corner of this room. Many of the homes still have stove pipe sticking up through their ceiling and visible along the gulch ridgeline.
The location of the fireplace is obvious in this picture. Cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
Someone even dug a garage! Whoever did it must have been a car person.
This home certainly has an elaborate front. Many of them have niches carved out of the wall that served as shelves. Who knows what may have been on them, plants, books, cooking necessities. It would be great to see pictures taken back when the homes were inhabited.
Was this the entrance to a mine, or just a long hallway to a home someone was digging? It goes back a ways and then turns, and then ends.
On the inside, looking out.
I hiked across the gulch to get a better look at this home that I had seen earlier. I'm not sure if the door on the right leads to a store room or another home. Someone put in a lot of work building the stone walls on both sides of this home.
Here's a view looking across the gulch at the row of homes pictured earlier in this post. The structure on the right is an outhouse.
I think there are probably a few places I missed during this exploration. But the afternoon was waning, shadows were taking over and I still had a long way to drive as I was planning on spending the night in Beatty, Nevada. But I don't mind leaving a bit of exploring undone, as that gives me a reason to return. And there's a lot to see in this area, so I'm sure I'll be back one day to see what else I can find.
A couple shots from Shoshone. The Chas. Brown Co. Market has apparently been in business for quite a spell. Across the street I spotted this old car in front of a small museum. I'm sure there are a lot of other neat surprises in town to discover.
Another mountain, north of Shoshone. The bands of colors are very interesting.
I couldn't shake this guy, no matter how fast I drove.....
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