December 2009 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


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating 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 Ė 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 Mono Lake Committee.


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.



It's Christmas on the Mountain

by Cecile Page Vargo


Itís Christmas on the mountain,

Itís getting very cold

I often wonder what it was like,

In the days of old

The jingle bells that were heard

Belonged to the mules

Gee haw, was the loud cry

The crack of the whip, the muleskinners controlling tool


Up and down the Yellow Grade

The dust would most oft fly

The wagons left with silver and lead ore

Back with rum and rye

Produce from the farms down south

Also brought to town

Miners happy and full

Smelter fires kept burning, blue skies turning smoky brown


Belshaw, Beaudry, Nadeau too

Took in the most wealth

Hard working the miner made enough

Barely kept his health

The money that was not lost

In the old saloon

Squandered on Lolaís girls

Short moments of pleasure, dingy cribs lit by the moon


The hotels had beds to rent

Twelve hours at a time

No wonder the newspapers oft said

Itís Man for breakfast crime

Violence ruled the old Fat Hill

Bold headlines out cried

Tired lone miner men

Playing hard after their mine shift, tempers flared some of them died


From this desert mountain town

A quiet pueblo grew

Metropolis got bigger than life

Few men from then knew

Big city Christmas glistens

To spill over with excess

Cerro Gordo mountaintop

Spirits blowing with the wind, a ghost town in distress.


I long for this mountain top

Its quiet solitude

To linger with the spirits

Please donít think me rude

Christmas on the mountaintop

Minerís ghosts from days of yore

I hear their voices singing

Peace on earth, good will, Merry Christmas and so much moreÖ

Historic black and white photos of Cerro Gordo from the L. D. Gordon Collection, courtesy Doug Gordon.


A Memory of Christmas Past

Elysian Heights Elementary School holiday card from 1967 celebrating Room 8's fifteen years as the school cat. Room 8, the most famous cat in Los Angeles, lived at the school for 16 years. He died August, 1968.

Cerro Gordo Update

Cerro Gordo's tram trestle stands against a star-filled sky in this time exposure.

The ghost town of Cerro Gordo remains open to day visitors. Volunteer caretakers have assumed day-to-day visitor operations and are in town at all times. In spite of rumors to the contrary, Cerro Gordo has not been abandoned or closed after Mike Patterson's death.

Cerro Gordo's official website ( is being updated. Please contact us through the email address below if you have questions about Cerro Gordo.

Town hours are from approximately 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. (PST), weather and road conditions permitting. Visitors should dress warmly, bring drinking water and haul out their own trash. Cerro Gordo shirts and souvenir silver-lead bullion bars are available for purchase in the American Hotel. Admission is $10 per person.


A Desert Thanksgiving

by Roger Vargo

Every Thanksgiving our son, Eric, and a group of his friends, get together for a week of camping, eating, sleeping, talking, and a little motorcycle riding in the Western Mojave Desert near Ridgecrest.

ERIC and ERICEric Jenrich (L) and Eric Vargo (R) share a humorous moment.



AT THE SMOKEREric Vargo checks the progress of the smoked beef.


SPLITTING LOGSEnergetic youths try their skills at splitting firewood with a maul.

WHERE'S THE GAS PEDAL?Riding a motorcycle isn't as easy as it looks.


CLOUDS and SNOWA fast moving storm sprinkled our camp with rain and deposited a dusting of snow on the Sierras above 4500 feet.

WAVE CLOUDSLenticular (wave) clouds caused by high elevation wind sheer, look like hovering UFO's. Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by