April 2005 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts





Join the thousands of Nessie lovers around the world - be the first on your next Death Valley safari to have a Badwater Nessie    t-shirt, mug or tote.

Click on the photo for link to our EHC WARE store on Cafe Press.




Bill Becher, L.A. Daily News outdoor writer and photographer went to Bodie with us in September. Read what he wrote about the trip. Click the photo to link to the story.




The birth of a new year is also the death of California campfire permits issued in 2004. Visit your local land management agency (BLM, NPS, USFS or State Parks) to renew your campfire permit for the 2005 calendar year.

Click on the photo below to read more about Cerro Gordo.



Ecological 4-Wheeling Adventures


Click on either graphic below to get there.

Ecological 4-Wheeling Adventures (ECO4WD) offers more than 20 exciting four wheel drive backcountry adventure tours, SUV excursions, 4WD classes and 4-wheeling trainings. Their adventure tours range from one-day outings into Southern California's mountains and deserts to SUV mini-vacations in Death Valley, whale watching (4WD not required!) on the Baja peninsula and a 12-day, surprising luxurious expedition (no camping) into the uncharted depths of Mexico's Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre). Their "clean and easy" eco-tour style is sensitive and responsible to the environment, your family and your four wheel drive vehicle.

Don't have a 4X and want to visit historic sites in Eastern California?

Capture the spirit of the past as it comes alive with true tales of pioneer families, prospectors, muleskinners, hero's and gunslingers. Listen to legends of lost gold, found wealth and superstitions. Journey back in time with Terri Geissinger - Historian, Interpreter and Guide

Click on Terri's yellow van for Terri's Ghost Town Tours or contact Terri by clicking here:



The Panamint Breeze is a new publication highlighting the history and legends California and Nevada.  

Click on the logo to request  subscription information.

Rains Bring More Than Floodwaters

to Death Valley

by Cecile Page Vargo

          She appears at least once every hundred years or so throughout history and throughout various places on earth, but  there’s little record and not many people around from those earlier time periods to confirm her existence. Since the last quarter of the 1800’s the sightings have been more frequent, particularly in Loch Ness, Scotland and in Death Valley, California.  First sightings in Death Valley were by the ancient one’s and those were recorded in the rocks near ancient hunting blinds and watering holes.  The white men that later came and saw the red man’s squiggly “S” shaped marks etched in the rocks misinterpreted them as rattle snakes, not sea serpents or monsters or overgrown reptilians.  Had Manly and his party of 49’ers been smarter about such things they might have recognized the red man’s etchings for what they really were, and recorded a few sightings of their own. Since Scotland’s first recorded sightings were actually later than 1849, it’s highly possible that between the time of the ancient Indian carvings in the year 1000 AD, and 1871, the lake creature stayed away from the lowest spots of the California desert.

Legends of the Loch Ness Monster AKA Nessie, started in 565 A.D with an account of Saint Columba rescuing a swimmer from a creature in Loch Ness, Scotland. From then on, various stories of such a creature emerged, but all were virtually unrecorded until the 20th century. In 1933 a new road was built along the Loch Ness lake shore enabling people to visit the area in large numbers and reports of sightings dramatically increased. Most recently, Nessie was sighted, in of all places, Badwater, Death Valley, California.


Read More 


Panamint Annie--One of the Last Immortals of the West

by Cecile Page Vargo

          When she was born on June 22nd, 1912, in Washington D.C., her army surgeon father and Iroquois Indian mother dubbed her Mary Elizabeth White. At 12 years old, Mary missed the fateful airplane trip that killed her mother and sister because she was grounded for riding a motorcycle around the army base where the family lived. Her devilish behavior and disregard for what was considered acceptable behavior of the day, was beginning to set tone for her future. From her mother and sister’s death she learned that she was a survivor because she was “a stinker.” When she decided a few years later that she wanted to follow her fathers footsteps into the medical field and become a doctor, she was told that women were not allowed to be doctors, but she could pursue a career as a nurse instead. Not one to compromise, Mary Elizabeth White chose to do things her way or not at all. 

A Joshua tree grows near Panamint Annie's grave in the cemetery at Rhyolite, Nevada.

          Mary’s stubbornness and determination to do things her own way led her to an early marriage at 15 years old, and the birth of her first two children followed. The first child died in infancy, the second she left with her husband in Boston while she found a career driving bootleg liquor from Canada to Chicago. When she tired of that she moved west and found herself cooking for dudes at ranches in the states of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Tuberculosis, which she had contracted in her late teens, soon forced her to even drier country. Mary Elizabeth White moved to the lowest and driest part of the United States, where she would earn a whole new name and identity.

          Long soaks in the hot springs of Shoshone outside Death Valley, seemed to provide the cure for the tuberculosis that Mary struggled with in her youth. Once her health and beauty was restored, Mary took to the surrounding barren hills in search of the rich minerals they bore. The peace and beauty of the desert struck her as she prowled the hills, with hammer, pick and shovel from the wee hours of the morning until long after dark. The motto of the old prospectors “Listen and the mountains will talk to you. They will tell you where gold is if you listen”, became hers as well. When the mountains revealed their hidden wealth, Mary learned to timber, blast and muck, as well as any man.  Her underground work was lit with candles she made herself instead of spending money on kerosene. Other prospectors began comparing her with the legendary woman prospector of the old days, who also came from back east, prospected, left a child behind, and was known as a rough gal. The Mary Elizabeth White originally from Washington D.C. was fast disappearing, and a new Panamint Annie, was born.

Read More


2005 Tour Information

We're still in the process of revising our 2005 schedule.

Please contact us at info@explorehistoricalif.com for current tour information.

Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway. Click your mouse through our website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them. If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your vehicle, please visit our ECOLOGICAL 4-WHEELING ADVENTURES.

     Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn. The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16 years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the Owens Valley.

     Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size restrictions.

     Our tours are operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and other authorities.

     We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old cabin or deserted mountain lookout.

     California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the "Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore historic California.

Roger, Cecile and Marty

explorehistoricalif.com Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by death-valley.us