December 2012 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

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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.

ISBN: 978-0970025869

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


Announcing our Arcadia Publishing Book:



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 now!

(Click the cover image for ordering information)

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

Mules can taste the difference--so can you

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.



Wishing you a High-grade Holiday Season

and a Joyous New Year

Cecile and Roger Vargo pose in the guise of nineteenth century visitors to Cerro Gordo Mines. The idea was derived from an image from the  L. D. Gordon Collection (courtesy Doug Gordon) that was used on page 80 of the Images of America CERRO GORDO book from Arcadia Publishing. Below are Roger and Cecile in the twenty first century.


Cerro Gordo: A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries, by Cecile Page Vargo is now in its' second printing from the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert (and selected booksellers).  ISBN: 978-0970025869.

Cerro Gordo in Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series, by Cecile Page Vargo and Roger W. Vargo is available direct from Arcadia Publishing and Amazon and at selected booksellers. ISBN: 9780738595207.


Cerro Gordo: A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries

Review by Sheila Finch

In the aftermath of my divorce, I worked busily at reinventing my life, going places, doing things I’d never done before. One of the great changes I made was the purchase of a Jeep Wrangler 4WD. That soon necessitated taking it off road, so I signed up for a series of guided, four-wheel expeditions in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. One of the most enjoyable was to a dusty ghost town, 8500 feet up in the Inyo Mountains north of Los Angeles, called Cerro Gordo, where the mines once knew a silver bonanza.

Cerro Gordo: A Ghost Town Caught Between Centuries is historian Cecile Page Vargo’s account of the founding of the little mining town, its heyday and its new life as a tourist attraction. (Cecile and husband Roger Vargo were the guides on some of my early four-wheel adventures.) It’s a fascinating story of boom and bust, friendship, loyalty, ingenuity, good times and bad droughts, the girls of Lola’s “Palace of Pleasure,” bandito raids in the 1870s, hotels, pool halls and dance halls, but no church. I enjoyed the mix of historical documents and contemporary anecdotes, accounts of how the ore was mined or water brought to a thirsty town, balanced by stories of the few, brave women who struggled to make a decent life in the desert for their menfolk and children.

The Mojave, a place of breathtaking beauty and ever-present danger, boasts many ghost mining towns like Cerro Gordo, some so dilapidated and wind-blown few even know about their existence any more. If you, like me, are drawn to such glimpses of California’s history, you’ll enjoy this well-written little book about one of the small, out-of-the-way places that played such an important role and survived to greet the new influx of weekend four-wheelers.







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