August 2010 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Sky high gas prices along with sluggish economic conditions have severely impacted our tour business for over a year.

We have reluctantly decided to suspend our tour operations for the time being.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who continue to support us.

LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our  logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.

We support

Bodie Foundation
"Protecting Bodie's Future by Preserving Its Past


SATURDAY, AUG. 14, 2010



This month marks the anniversaries of Beverly Mason's death (Aug. 7) and Room 8's death (Aug. 13). 

Remember them by supporting Room 8's charitable legacy with  a donation to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.

Mules can taste the difference--so can you



The Panamint Breeze is a newsletter for people who love the rough and rugged deserts and mountains of California and beyond.

Published by Ruth and Emmett Harder, it is for people who are interested in the history of mining in the western states; and the people who had the fortitude to withstand the harsh elements.

It contains stories of the past and the present; stories of mining towns and the colorful residents who lived in them; and of present day adventurers.

Subscriptions are $20 per year (published quarterly – March, June, September & December) Subscriptions outside the USA are $25 per year. All previous issues are available. Gift certificates are available also.

To subscribe mail check (made payable to Real Adventure Publishing) along with name, address, phone number & e-mail address to:  Real Adventure Publishing, 18201 Muriel Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92407.

For more information about the Panamint Breeze e-mail Ruth at:

It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.

Visit Michael Piatt's site,, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo for information on her tours with the Bodie Foundation.

Credo Quia Absurdum

Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505

Hey Brother,

Can 'Ya

Spare a Job?

The nation's economic downturn has severely affected the newspaper industry. My job of nearly 30 years was eliminated several months ago.

I'm actively looking for full or part time job opportunities within my diverse skill set.

If you have, or know of any openings, please contact me through this CONTACT  link.




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 the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.



Bodie in Others' Words

Selected Newspaper Clippings

by Roger Vargo

Bodie, in the late 1870's was full of promise. Mine shafts were driven ever deeper and optimism was in the air.

"Are you going to Bodie?" is the
question of the day, just now; and
from all accounts Bodie appears to be the Mecca of the despairing ones. Do not be surprised if my next letter is dated from that town.

April 4, 1979, Ukiah, California


The town of Bodie is situated on a flat between two rows of hills. On one side is the Bodie range, where the mines and hoisting works are located. This, though at first sight it would appear to be, is not the town proper. Six months ago there were about 500 buildings and a population of some 1,500. Now there are between 3,000 and 4,000 buildings, and a population of 7,000. There is one street over a mile long, lined on either side with business houses.

January 25, 1879, Placerville, California

The Bodie Miners' Union grew as the mines expanded.

The growth of the Bodie Miner's Union has been almost unparalleled in the history of mining camps. From a mere handful of men one year ago their membership has grown until now they can count some 600 names on their roll-call.
Mountain Democrat, May 31, 1879

As the town grew, so did its desire for connection to the outside world and its need for ever increasing supplies of wood for construction and fuel. The Bodie Railroad ran only to the forest at Mono Mills. It never connected to the Carson & Colorado.

Daily Alta California,  September 16, 1878


Daily Alta California,  May 19, 1880, San Francisco, California


RAILROAD to BODIE. — A narrow gauge railroad is now in process of construction from the Mound House, on the V. & T. R. R. to Bodie. A force 800 men were put to work last Monday. The road will be pushed to completion at an early day.

Mountain Democrat, June 5, 1880


Daily Alta California,  July 30, 1881
On Tuesday, Nov. 8th, the whistle of a locomotive was heard in Bodie for the first time. The narrow-gauge road to Mono Lake is about completed, and has all the business it can do for some time to come.
Mountain Democrat, November 19, 1881

Railroads weren't the only mode of transportation that was growing in Bodie.

There are now no less than nine stage lines plying between Bodie and the outside world, and two more are to be put on within a week or two.
Mountain Democrat, July 30, 1880

But travel was never easy, especially in the winters.

Two men started from Bodie in a wagon with six
horses about two weeks ago for Sonora. They were caught in a snow storm, and were forced to leave
their wagon, horses and dog on the grade, unable
to proceed further with them. They arrived at Stockton
with feet frozen, and otherwise badly used up.
Mountain Democrat, January 1, 1881


Bodie was also a place where violence was common.

Daily Alta California,  January 18, 1878


Daily Alta California,  April 1, 1880

Daily Alta California,  May 24, 1880

Daily Alta California,  November 7, 1880

Daily Alta California,  April 2, 1891
At Bodie March 31 James Grant shot John Kelly through the shoulder, through the arm and through the jaw for refusing to marry Grant's stepdaughter after having led her astray.
Kelly was superintendent of the Bodie Consolidated mine. He refused to prosecute Grant.
Mountain Democrat, April 11, 1891
George Montrose fought a duel with his stepfather, A. Mathewson, on the main street at Bodie. Eight shots were exchanged, but the only person hurt was a bystander, Mrs.
Vierra, who was wounded in the hip.
Mountain Democrat, July 27, 1895

Street violence wasn't the only way to die in Bodie. The mines also claimed their share of lives.

Daily Alta California,  January 6, 1878

Daily Alta California,  May 31, 1879

Daily Alta California,  July 19, 1890

And some residents died of apparent natural causes.

Major B. E. Foote, son of Henry B. Foote, the wayward and eccentric politician, died suddenly, while sitting in a chair at a hotel in Bodie, on the 22nd. His age was 37. He was by profession lawyer, and man of considerable brilliancy.

Mountain Democrat, May 31, 1878

Fire was an ever present danger in Bodie. Most of the town was destroyed in two major conflagrations (1892 and 1932). The original Standard Mill was destroyed in 1898.

HAWTHORNE, Nev., Oct. 5--The Standard  Consolidated Mining Company's two-stamp mill at
Bodie, Cal., was totally destroyed by fire today.
The fire started in the boiler room. The
adjoining offices and the cyanide plant were
saved. The estimated loss is $50,000; partially
October 5, 1898, Oakland, California, via Hawthorne, Nevada

Life was never easy in Bodie. The area's winters were especially harsh. As the town's fortunes declined, so did supplies for the remaining residents.

The Virginia Chronicle of last Tuesday says: It
is reported that there is no flour to be had in
Bodie owing to the blocked roads. Hams and other
articles of food are entirely out, and Bodie is
now subsisting on beans, cheese and snow.
Mountain Democrat, February 15, 1890

Through good times and not so good times, Bodie managed to survive. Today, about five percent of the original buildings remain in a state of "arrested decay" as part of the California State Parks system. Visit Bodie on Saturday, August 14, 2010, for the annual Friends of Bodie Day for a chance to experience the vibrancy and excitement of years past.


Historic newspaper clippings from:

Newspaper Archive (

California Digital Newspaper Collection (



Seeing the Ghosts in the Machines

By Chris Spiller

If you stand near the edge of the road at the Bodie picnic area, you will see a large iron tube atop a small ridge at the base of the hill. This immense “tube mill” was brought into Bodie in 1904 for use at the newly renovated Standard Consolidated Cyanide Plant.

The tube mill arrives in Bodie in 1904.

(Emil Billeb collection, courtesy Vickie Daniels)

 Continue to study the area around the tube and you will spot a rock foundation. You are looking at the remains of the Standard Mining Company’s cyanide plant. The building burned in 1954, before Bodie became a state park.

 Over 100 years ago, some of the Standard’s most important work was conducted here. The renovations at the plant enabled the Standard to hang on financially by re-working old tailings.

 The tube mill cannot be more closely examined by visitors as it is within an area closed due to unstable ground. However, the site is now a regular stop on the new Bodie Vista Tour on Saturdays at 10 a.m. during the summer. (Check the museum for additional Vista Tours that may be scheduled other days.)

 A tube mill, which is a device for fine grinding of already crushed ore, utilizes rocks or iron balls in the grinding of the material.

 The changes wrought by the renovation of the plant and installation of the tube mill warranted the attention of the Mining and Scientific Press, a mining industry publication. The Standard was featured in a lengthy article on Sept. 23, 1905.

 “The metallurgical treatment of ore at the mines of the Standard Con. Co. at Bodie has been materially changed within the past eight months and is now one of the most modern in California…” states the article. Among the modern techniques listed are “crushing in cyanide solution, further crushing in tube mill and final treatment by the Moore process.” The Moore process was a vacuum pump with canvas filters that allowed treatment of tailings had not responded well to earlier cyanide processes.

 The article goes on to explain that “irregular pebbles” from Mono Lake were at first tried in the mill. “…but being irregular, they slide and will not roll, causing great wear on the (tube mill) liners. Hereafter Iceland flints now being shipped are to be used.”

The tube mill and flints today.

 While the article hails the staff of the Standard for its innovative work, the months prior to the start up of the tube mill and newly-renovated cyanide plant were full of difficulty. The Standard’s Manager, Theodore Hoover, discussed the problems and humorous side effects of replacing the original lining of the tube mill in his “Memoranda: Being a Statement by an Engineer.” The original lining of the tube mill was composed of interlocking steel plates about 10 x 12 inches in area, by one inch thick. The plates had a life of four or five months but the plates would wear unevenly with plates dropping out of place frequently. A new lining was proposed and Theodore Hoover continues the story at this point:

 “On the first of January 1905, the new plant was ready to start. The construction work had taken just six months, which at that time seemed to me just twice too long. Since then further experience shows that it was remarkable short period for a work of that magnitude…the tube mill which we had installed for regrinding was also an innovation in America, being the first one installed outside South Africa, for the purpose of grinding gold ores. The manufacturers were Allis, Chalmers & Co., and they apparently had a very immature idea of what they were about. The liners would not stay in and it gave us endless trouble putting them back. What was worse, this continuous coming out was damaging to the liners and we soon found ourselves, in midwinter, far from a railway with no tube mill lining. We were forced to make one of wood, but this soon wore out, and besides it introduced organic salts into the cyanide solution, which made a tremendous froth all over the place. The sight was comical enough to create amusement, in spite of the hard work and worry it was also responsible for. There was froth everywhere, in all the vats and launders and on the floor knee deep, hip deep, chin deep. The men in the works look like a lot of water beetles engaged in curious evolutions.”

 Hoover concluded, “we finally solve the liner and froth problems by making a new lining out of old…Cornish pump (iron) rod straps. This entailed a lot of hard work on the part of the blacksmith, but was finally accomplished and was a complete success.”

The tube mill today.

Chris Spiller is a Bodie SHP historical interpreter. She is best known for her portrayal of Mrs. Mildred Hoover while guiding visitors through the Standard stamp mill.


Cerro Gordo Update

Cerro Gordo is still Closed to Visitors

Cerro Gordo's American Hotel (center) and nearby buildings are surrounded by a blanket of snow.

The town of Cerro Gordo is officially closed at this time - until further notice.

However, the road is a County Road, and pictures of the buildings may be taken from the road.

There is absolutely no trespassing off the road. A caretaker is on site, so please observe the no trespassing.

Please do not hesitate to contact Sean Patterson at:

Cell phone: 661-303-3692 or

Email address:

Stay tuned to this website or our Facebook page for updates on Cerro Gordo's status.



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