January 2006 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts




Mojave Expedition (11-12-05) photo gallery--Click the photo to go to the gallery



Burro Schmidt's

Tunnel Update

Burro Schmidt's "Famous Tunnel" now has a group of "friends" trying to preserve and protect the site.   

Click the photo to visit  their Website.



Click on the photo below to read more about Cerro Gordo.

Cerro Gordo now has its own Web site. Click the link below to visit.


Join us at the Nevada Boom Town History Conference, Feb. 3-5, 2006 in Amargosa, Nevada.  Click the drawing for details.




The Panamint Breeze is a new publication highlighting the history and legends California and Nevada.  

Click on the logo for details.

Cecile is taking the month off to prepare for the Boom Town History Conference, February 3-5. Roger and Steve Spangler are filling in as this month's contributors.

Talking About the Weather

 by Roger Vargo

"The weather is like the government, always in the wrong," wrote British author Jerome K. Jerome (1859–1927). Mark Twain said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Right or wrong, the U.S. government does talk about the weather on more than 900 stations operating on seven radio channels operated by the National Weather Service (NWS).

Called National Weather Radio (NWR), it is an "all-hazards" public warning system broadcasting forecasts, warnings and emergency information 24 hours a day.

“All Hazards” messages include:

  • natural (e.g., tornado, hurricane, floods, earthquakes)

  • technological accidents (e.g., chemical release, oil spill, nuclear power plant emergencies, maritime accidents, train derailments)

  • AMBER alerts

  • terrorist attacks

 Non-weather emergency messages will be broadcast over NWR when: (1) public safety is involved, (2) the message comes from an official government source, and (3) time is critical.

There are 28 NWR stations operating in California and 11 in Nevada. The stations operate on VHF-FM radio frequencies from 162.440 MHz to 162.550 MHz. These frequencies are beyond the range of ordinary automobile radios, but well within the range of scanners and many amateur radios. Some CB radios also include the ability to monitor weather channels.

The NWR radio frequencies are: 















For more information on the weather radio system, go to: nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrbro.htm


A Mojave Expedition to Remember

by Steve Spangler

In September I got an email from my friend Cecile from Explore Historic 

California, that their Mojave Expedition was on and did I want to go.  Of course I jumped at the chance to go.  I have done the trip with her and her husband, Roger, a few times, and have been to the area many times with other friends to explore roads and camp in the El Paso Mountains North of the town of Mojave, Calif. This area is in the triangle created by Highways 14 and 395 on the west, north and east sides, and the Garlock and Randsburg Road.

The trip is one of the many tours offered by Explore Historic California and is a one day trip.

This area has had a lot of mining and old timers living in this area for a long time.  The area is steeped in mining history.  With a few oddities not found in many places.

Roger will lead you to, over, around and talk you thru the rich history and give you a chance to see what your stock 4x4 can do.  Roger has much info to share over the CB radio as you travel the area.  I think this is at least the third time I have done the Mojave Expedition with them, and each time we travel a different route with different but colorful history.  Roger can take you to holes that cleanser comes out of, to a half-mile hard rock hole thru a mountain that nothing but hard rock came out of.

My story is mainly to talk about the last couple hours of the tour and some of the pit-falls of desert travel that would not be anything more that a quick call to AAA and a short wait if you where on pavement.  

Old Timers

Some of the old timer’s, also known as Desert Rats, feel everyone is looking to get-over-on-them, and they like to keep a gun handy to impress the dim view they take about this.  Most of the land in this area is BLM managed, the remainder is in private hands, some of it disputed ownership with the BLM.  The BLM stand is to let these old timers stay where they are with the plan to out-wait them, then use the law to get the land from the heirs who most likely hate the desert and won’t dispute ownership.  Plus the BLM would look real foolish hauling men, and in a few cases, women into court to spend their twilight years fighting ownership on a few acres of desert land.

Our story opens with one of the desert rat women who is happy to use her shotgun.  She seems to have kept her sharpshooter skill, but has lightened her need to get results, which is good for us. So as we drove by Della’s place she took the standard dislike to outsiders, that we have come to know.  But since she finds the ‘bark’ better than the ‘bite’ she just fired a few shots our way.  I don’t feel she caused the tire damage that stopped us very soon after passing her place.  But it did stir up the last band of rogue Native American warriors who live in the area.  In these tight washes and canyons the modern 4x4 is no match for a good horseman. 

Into the Narrows

Once the bad guy locals tried to stop us, one of the vehicles suffered a blow-out.  We had been heading toward an area called the ‘ Narrows ’.  As anyone who has passed thru the Narrows , knows it is not passable with a flat tire.  You need as much control and ground clearance as you can get.

 Many of us have dealt with most back-country travel misfortunes that come up in the desert Southwest.  We did the basic split maneuver, and left a small group of well-prepared rigs to help the stranded rig, and the people in it.   As the larger group leads the warriors away with their many tracks and dust, we sat tight at the top of the Narrows , out of view of any evil-doers.   Since most of us old timers have amateur radio licenses and powerful radios we had a small advantage over the bad guys with our ability to update the two groups about the pending dangers.

As we started to change the tire,  the pressing warriors and the fast falling darkness that comes early in November was in the back of our minds  This gave added urgency to the situation and need for speed.  There were four vehicles that stayed behind, the one with the flat, the tour tailgunner Marty, Roger’s son Eric, and myself.   

We started by all pitching in to make short work of the busted tire along the trail, since Marty, Eric, and I have done this more times than we can remember.  One guy helped the stranded rig owner get his spare tire, and jack.  Another was loosening the lug nuts on the bad tire.  Once the jack was out the lifting started.  As the tire cover was removed on the rear outside mounted tire, we found the spare tire was very low on air. It turned out to have eight PSI.  This would be a terrible thing for the average highway traveler, but your basic back country traveler always has an air compressor with them.  So,  with one of our on-board air-compressors, we filled the tire in short order. We where working like a well orchestrated Indy 500 tire change crew when everything came to a screeching halt.  

Locked up

Seems the last owner of the crippled SUV had installed a wheel lock on the spare, a good idea, but the new owner didn't have the key for it with the vehicle.  Since the new owner had never had a flat tire he didn’t realize it would be a problem.  

So, with some “getter' done” thinking,  we tried to remove the tire lock.  Well, as you guessed this was not easy because the whole job of a lock is to keep people without the key from unlocking it.  We had everything we needed to patch the tire, except time. The rip was in the sidewall and wasn’t a safe place to patch and drive at highway speeds.  There are few things can’t be hammered out, and we eventually opened the lock. 

With the tire change done, and the sun just setting, we made the slow journey thru the Narrows in the little twilight we had.  Lucky for us a large UFO appeared overhead and helped light our way over the few dry falls. At first this seemed like our luck was changing as a UFO this big would also scare away the bad guys we knew would be ahead.  

But then the UFO opened up and starting firing at us! This really made changing that tire even a better idea.  As the laser beams blasted away at us, we where able to keep our speed and weave behind the rocks as needed to make it out alive.  As we got down near the Goler Heights compound, the UFO peeled away and left us. The horse riding warriors where no where to be found either.  About the only thing we didn’t see were any robots that had been reported in the area.

So now as we look back over the day, we had the great time we always have on a trip with Roger Cecile, and Marty.   The only bad thing was being caught us off guard was the unknown wheel lock on the spare tire.


Tour Information

We're back on the road again! 

Click on the photo for our preliminary 2006 schedule details.

Thanks to all who joined us on our dirt road travels.

Please contact us at info@explorehistoricalif.com for additional information or reservations.


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 our website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them. If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your vehicle, please contact us at: info@explorehistoricalif.com.

     Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn. The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16 years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the Owens Valley.

     Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size restrictions.

     Our tours are operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and other authorities.

     We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old cabin or deserted mountain lookout.

     California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the "Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore historic California.

Roger, Cecile and Marty


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