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.Read More
The Mojave Desert
The Mojave is a desert of wind, temperature extremes, Joshua Trees and solitude. When most people hear the word ‘desert,’ images of tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes and bleak desolation typically come to mind. In reality, the Mojave is anything but a wasteland. Amongst the sand and sagebrush lie many places of beauty and wonder, and of historic importance. Some are the result of time and the elements, some are the result of man and his efforts to live in the Mojave, both in recent and prehistoric times. Let’s go see what we can find.
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.Read More
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.Read More
"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.Read More
I can't count the number of times I'd driven by the California Landmark sign on 395, just north of Lone Pine, Cal. without stopping to investigate. It always intrigued me. Finally, it pulled me in and I stopped to see what I could find.Read More
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.Read More
As I pulled into "town," I spotted the mill ruins off to the west of 267, up on the side of a long hill. A few other ruins were located on the east side of Scotty's Castle Road. I headed over to the mill ruins first, to see what I could find.Read More
It was October. It was around 10:00 am in the morning and I had just pulled into the main parking area for Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was a mild October morning, the temperature was in the mid-80s. A light breeze was blowing. A nice day for a walk in the dunes. So I packed some water, put on my hat and commenced sand walking.Read More
Mining activity in the Clark Mountain Range dates back to the 1860s. It’s likely that prospectors found some color in this desert region, but copper would prove to be the ore to bring prosperity to the area. A man by the name of Johnny Moss is credited with discovering the Copper World mine in 1868, which he wouldn’t have known to look for if a Piute chief hadn’t given him a chunk of metallic copper.Read More
Even with my old eyes, I can still see interesting things way off the highway, while speeding by at 70-80 mph. Such was the case on Nevada State Route 266 near Lida, Nevada. I was heading east toward I-95 when I caught a glimpse of something unusual several hundred yards south of the highway. My gold mine senses were tingling, so I turned around as soon as I could and headed back to see what I could find.Read More
I was driving west on Route 58, out of Barstow, heading to I-395 and points north. My first stop of the day was going to be the abandoned Boron Air Force Station/Federal Prison Camp located a few miles north of Kramer Junction. As I'm speeding along, eating a cookie, I spot some old stone walls out in the middle of the desert. I passed by too quickly to be able to stop, so I continued up the road until I could turn around and go back to investigate.Read More
Making it to the Lester Dale Mine complex turned out to be a bit of an excursion. The site rests on the northern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains, overlooking an off-roaders paradise known as Johnson Valley. The dirt road in (Bessemer Mine Road), is roughly six miles of alternating hardpack, washboard, deep sand, millions or rocks and sometimes a combination of all of those at the same time.Read More
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. It’s a fascinating site with stone wall ruins, tailing piles, old mining machinery and colorful mountains. Definitely worth a visit.