August 2012 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

Visit our Explore Historic California site on Facebook



Cerro Gordo officially


as of July 25, 2012

Please phone Sean Patterson (661-303-3692) or Cerro Gordo (760-876-5030) for additional information.

Caretakers are still on site to prevent vandalism.


Contact us through email at:

Now Available

Cerro Gordo

A Ghost Town

Caught Between


Cecile Page Vargo's collection of Cerro Gordo stories, true, farce and somewhere in between, is being published in a new book, Cerro Gordo A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries.

The book gives glimpses of Cerro Gordo from the silver and lead mining days through the early twentieth century zinc era to its modern place as, according to author Phil Varney, "Southern California's best, true, ghost town." There's even a possible solution to the location of the fabled "Lost Gunsight Mine" that former Cerro Gordo owner Mike Patterson once suggested.

We are proud to team with the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert (HSUMD) in Ridgecrest, Calif., to bring Cerro Gordo A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries to print. This is their first major publishing venture. The book is  available for sale directly from HSUMD or through selected book sellers.

Contact HSUMD directly to order:

P.O. Box 2001, Ridgecrest, CA. 93556-2001.

Phone: 760 375-8456


Mules can taste the difference--so can you

Available August, 2012


We are proud to announce Cerro Gordo, by Roger Vargo and Cecile Page Vargo, featuring images from the L. D. Gordon Collection, will be available August 20, 2012 as part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series.

Click the image 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


Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.


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.

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

Credo Quia Absurdum




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.



Second Cerro Gordo Book Debuts Aug. 20

Our second book on Cerro Gordo (Inyo County, California) will be released for sale on Monday, August 20, 2012. This book is published by Arcadia Publishing and is part of their Images of America series of books.

Our first book, Cerro Gordo A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries, published by the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert is going into its second printing.

Below is Arcadia's press release.

 Discover Cerro Gordo’s History in New Book

Local authors release new book featuring collection of vintage images

 New to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series is Cerro Gordo by local authors Cecile Page Vargo and Roger W. Vargo. This pictorial history boasts more than 200 vintage images and provides readers with a unique opportunity to reconnect with the history that shaped their community.

 High in the Inyo Mountains between Owens Valley and Death Valley National Park lies the ghost town of Cerro Gordo. Discovered in 1865, this silver town boomed to a population of 3,000 people in the hands of savvy entrepreneurs during the 1870s. As the silver played out and the town faded, a few hung on to the dream.

 By the early 1900s, Louis D. Gordon wandered up the Yellow Grade Road where freight wagons once traversed with silver and supplies and took a closer look at the zinc ore that had been tossed aside by early miners. The Fat Hill lived again, primarily as a small company town. By the last quarter of the 20th century, Jody Stewart and Mike Patterson found themselves owners of the rough and tumble camp that helped Los Angeles turn into a thriving metropolis because of silver and commercial trade. Cerro Gordo found new life, second to Bodie, as California’s best-preserved ghost town.

 Highlights of Cerro Gordo include:

·         Offers images from Cerro Gordo’s boom and bust cycles

·         Features the 1872 earthquake that violently rocked Owens Valley

·         Contains examples of architecture and building styles from the late 1860's through the early twentieth century

Click the cover image above to view previews of selected pages.

 Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.

 Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.  Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places.  Have we done a book on your town? Visit

Cerro Gordo

by Cecile Page Vargo and Roger W. Vargo

ISBN: 9780738595207

Arcadia Publishing Images of America series

Price: $21.99

128 pages/ softcover

Available: August 20, 2012







About the Authors of Cerro Gordo 

Roger and Cecile Vargo bought their first four wheel drive vehicle in 1988 and started going out exploring nearly every weekend. Spare time was spent doing research on the history and geology of their favorite areas. These one-day outings turned into more than 20 years of leading other people on mini vacations throughout Southern California, the Eastern Sierras, and Nevada as well as writing about the places visited.

A chance meeting with the grandson of L. D. Gordon at a Cerro Gordo Thanksgiving dinner opened up the Gordo photo collection which became the basis for this book. An email from the daughter of Robert C. Likes, one of the authors of From This Mountain-Cerro Gordo, the first (1970's) complete history Cerro Gordo, resulted in an author rediscovering his book and a friendship and encouragement for this book that lasted until Likes’ death in 2011.

The authors have spent many enjoyable days and nights at Cerro Gordo researching the history for this book.

Cecile Page Vargo is a historian and ghost town gossip. She spent three months in the summer of 2010 working and living in Bodie State Historic Park. When she’s not out in the backcountry exploring, she spends time researching and writing about California’s unique past. This is her second book about Cerro Gordo.

Roger is a former newspaper editor and currently teaches photography and photojournalism at a Los Angeles area community college. He is a member of the E Clampus Vitus group and is currently working on a long term project about Room 8, the most famous cat in Los Angeles.

Both Cecile and Roger specialize in researching and writing about old mining towns in California and Nevada and the historical personalities that made these locations unique.

Roger and Cecile write, produce and edit the monthly online magazine, Explore Historic California (EHC), .  It is filled with historical stories and photographs relating to their travels and research.

Cecile and Roger reside in the semi-rural suburbs of the Los Angeles foothills and are part-time residents of the ghost towns of Cerro Gordo and Bodie. They are members of the Friends of Jawbone, the Bodie Foundation and the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert.



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