February 2013 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:

Book Signing

and Lecture

7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18

We will be the guests of the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley.

The presentation is  at the Center of Spirital Living, 4845 Dunsmore Ave., La Crescenta 91214.

Get map and directions HERE.

We'd love to see you there!

For additional information, please visit the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley's web page:


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

Email: hsumd@ridgenet.net

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:  echco@msn.com

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

Visit Michael Piatt's site, www.bodiehistory.com, 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.



Remembering Sarah Alarid

By Cecile Page Vargo

Sarah Alarid

Photos: Brianna Kirkpatrick

A week or so before Christmas I officially met her for the first time.  I had seen her at a few family functions but didn’t know who she was. She walked into our kitchen behind the rest of my son’s family, and I introduced myself. “I’m Sarah”, she said in return, and offered me a delicate hand. Something about her touched my heart, and I found myself watching her and wondering what her story was.  I looked forward to getting to know her, and even was prepared to welcome her to our small family festivities on Christmas Eve.

Tragically, by the first few days of the new year, 19 year old Sarah Alarid’s name and face became forever ingrained in the memory of her family, friends, and the communities who desperately searched and handed out missing flyers when she never came home from a New Year’s Eve party. For nine days, it was almost as if she had disappeared off the face of the earth.

A helicopter on it’s way to another news story caught a glimmer of something that no one else had seen, although many of us, myself included, had looked over the Bear Divide area in the Angeles National Forest looking for some sign of Sarah and her car. The very mountains she knew and loved had swallowed her up when her car drifted over a cliff and was practically buried in the thick chaparral and trees.

A strange mixture of relief, and grief came over all of us who had been involved in the massive efforts to find Sarah Alarid. Relief, that at last we knew what had become of her, grief for the loss of a young woman’s life who had brought smiles to all she knew.

At a loss for what to do until memorials could be planned to celebrate Sarah’s life, Roger and I wound up in the 4-Runner headed up to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon, several miles from where Sarah and her car had been discovered. As soon as we turned up the highway, a large red tail hawk found  its way to a tree in the wash. I watched as it landed, and somehow found it comforting.  Then I remembered:  I know why the falcon and bird of prey fly, and there is another bird in the sky looking over those of us who knew and loved Sarah Alarid.

 I Know Why The Falcon Fly
by Cecile Page Vargo

          On the day we buried my friend, Pam, a falcon flew just as the last words were said over her entire family. Her husband had killed them all, including himself, but the falcon told us she was free and safe at last. Since that day…a falcon or hawk appears regularly to me at crucial times in my life…and I know all is well.

On the day after a rainy spell, perhaps a year or so later, the air was still chilly, and damp. I grabbed a quilt and sat under a homemade rose arbor where I had a bench. I was engrossed in a fictional account of a woman who chose a new life and a new identity so she would not be a victim of spousal abuse at the hands of her policeman husband. I was in tears through most of it, thinking of my beloved friend and her two teenage boys. Suddenly, a disturbance in the sky above caught my eye. It was two crows circling a falcon and teasing it. Instantly, I was at peace….Pam was looking over me.

On many a day, I traveled the backcountry leading tours and I was often greeted with a falcon or hawk along the way….and I smiled. On one particular trip we were headed into Kernville for a river rafting jaunt. I spied the falcon and felt comforted, once again. Later when our raft was turned over in an almost class IV rapid, I realized that Pam was with me once again, trying to tell me that I would have a little adventure…and I was safe.

On the day my son was to go to trial for a car accident in which one person was killed, as we drove past Hansen Dam on the 210, a falcon flew over our vehicle and once again I knew Pam was guiding me and I laughed. Minutes before we had left the house, the phone rang, and they had released my son because there was new evidence that a third vehicle had been involved and had hit and ran. We still had a long road ahead of us…but ultimately my son was out of the woods….and the falcon’s timely appearance as we went to pick him up from the courthouse where he never stood trial…I was at peace.

 On the day we went to Cerro Gordo with a tour, the first one after the owner of the old town had died, two falcons flew over before we hit the Yellow Grade Road….and then again at the cemetery where Jody was buried. Before my friend Pam was so tragically killed, I had offered her a safe house at Cerro Gordo, not realizing that she really needed one. Had she done so she would have been alive and perhaps on this trip with me. Now the two falcons laughed at me and provided comfort and I realized that Jody and Pam had met up at last, and all was well and good.

On the day we went to Bodie, years later, at the start of the stamp mill tour, before park aide Chris could don her Mrs. Hoover hat and take us back to the early 1900’s, a falcon landed on one of the tin buildings and watched us the whole time. Pam looked after me at my “other” ghost town, as well, and I was comforted, and mildly amused at the same time.

On the day we took a group to the ghost town of Masonic, I slipped down a dirt road to the side, by myself. The little clearing between the road and the meadow was the site where my 6 month old dog Jake had experienced his first camping trip and finally realized that he was supposed to lift his leg to pee instead of squat like his big doggie sister Jessie. The log he learned to lift his leg on was long gone, but the clearing was still there and evidence that many had camped in our private little spot over the years since. It was several years later, and a few months after we had put Jake down at the ripe old age of 15 ½. As I said a prayer for Jake, and shed a tear or two, two smaller birds, perhaps prairie falcons, swooped over me and around me then landed in the aspens. I knew in an instant, it wasn’t Pam, nor was it Jody…it was my beloved dogs, and they wanted me to know they were happy and free and I no longer worried.

On the day I walked the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon with a friend, I told her these stories and a few more…about the falcon or hawk that followed me when I needed them most in my life. Suddenly, the friend  was shouting, “Look, Cecile, there’s one now!” and I smiled.

On the day four years ago,  as I opened my kitchen door with trash in my hand to take to the bin, I heard the crows…and I heard another bird. At first I thought it was a water fowl on its way to the wash, since we had seen several on our walk a couple of days before.  Then I heard the cry more distinctly, and realized it was the sound of a bird of prey. I watched as the crows circled the neighbor's pine tree over and over and cackled and cawed. Then finally I saw it…the falcon sat on a branch way up high, waiting to tell me…"don’t worry….times are hard right now with the economy and Roger’s unemployment…but I am here as always…and all will be well" I called Roger to see...but the bird was on it's way, making his familiar sound.

 I know why the falcon fly….. and they are my bird of P R A Y……

Innumerable times since I wrote this, the falcon and hawk have continued to fly over me at crucial times in my life a comforting reminder  that those I have lost are still with me when I need them the most.   

Sarah's Memorial Service and Concert

January 19, 2013

Santa Clarita, Calif.


Sarah Alarid's memorial service at the Real Life Church in Valencia was attended by more than 300 people including family, friends and others who had helped in her search.

Sarah's friends sing "New Mexico Song" by Johnny Hobo a the end of the service.

After the conclusion of the service, friends signed Sarah's casket and guest books.



Later that evening a memorial concert featuring local punk rock bands was held to raise funds which were donated to Sarah's family for her funeral expenses.

The concert concluded with another rendition of "New Mexico Song".
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