July 2012 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

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Cerro Gordo officially


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

Email: hsumd@ridgenet.net

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:  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.

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 Bodie Foundation.

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.



Bodie Signs of the Times

by Carl S. Chavez

This month in honor of the 50th anniversary of Bodie State Historic Park, former State Park Ranger Carl Chavez graciously allows us to take an excerpt from his book A Pathway Through Parkways: A Park Ranger’s Reminiscing.

Carl and his family lived and worked in Bodie  four years after it was declared a State Park in 1962.  His daughter was the last child born in Bodie, on June 23, 1967.   Since there was a “No Children” rule at that time for the remote ghost town turned State Park,  the autumn after her birth he transferred to another State Park that was considered more family friendly.   This story is just one of many that he wrote in his book, which is available via Amazon here.

Today as you enter Bodie via the Cottonwood Canyon road you will see a rustic entrance sign and flagpole off to your right. It reads “Bodie State Historic Park, EL. 8375’”.  There may still be an old ore cart spilling its cargo of ore next to the sign. When you see this sign you will be looking at a labor of love. It is the creation of Park Supervisor Bob Frenzel.

Bob was a Ranger from the “Old School.”  He could drink with the best of them, be it alcohol or coffee, and he had to have his cigarettes. As a former sea captain, he loved the ocean, yet he had spent most of his park career in the desert. He was most comfortable when he was doing maintenance work. His strength was that he was straightforward and honest and had a big heart. His weakness was that he was a procrastinator.

When the snow began to melt with the spring thaw in May of 1967 Bob decided he needed a project that he could work on in the outdoors as the weather warmed. He decided that the park needed two new signs. One of the signs was to be a new entrance sign and the other was to be a sign directing visitors to the parking lot adjacent to a building known as the “County Bar”.  Bob described to me what he had in mind and asked me to make a drawing of the entrance sign for him. The parking lot sign was much simpler he said and he didn’t need a drawing for that one. I designed about a 4’ x 8’ sign made of four thick weathered boards and gave him the drawing. He liked the design but thought the routed letters should be burned to give the sign a more rustic and weathered appearance. I too thought that was a good idea.

My Bodie Journal indicates that Bob started working on the entrance sign around May 5th. Margaret and I watched with growing interest as Bob set up is work area for the sign between his house and the Red Barn. We couldn’t understand why the setup was taking o long. Not long as in hours, but long as in days. We thought that all he needed was a couple of boards, two sawhorses, a skill-saw, a router, and an extension cord. But we were unaware that this took so much time. First you had to think about gathering up the materials and equipment. Then you had to tell us about it and then you had to tell Dot about it, and then you had to ask Carl, Margaret, and Dot if you had told us you are about to start work on the sign. You get the idea.

The day finally arrived that the first significant progress was apparent on the sign. Bog had actually cut the boards and doweled and glued them together. Now it was time to watch the glue dry. That must have taken at least a week or two. We figured that Bob must have already been through at least one can of Folger’s Coffee in the weeks since he had started on this project.

In June, when the road was clear of snow and park visitors began to arrive in greater numbers, Bob had actually started work with is router to do the letters and numbers needed for the sign. There were 36 characters that needed to be routed. Progress was being made, as Bob completed five letters: “BODIE”, by the end of May! June was a little better month for letters as he got as far as “STATE HIST”, a new monthly record!

July had not been a good month because there were distractions. Those darn tourists who were always wandering around town would come over to see what he was doing and interrupt his work. Then there were the Santa Gertrudis cattle that became curious and wanted to inspect the job too. Bob took to shooting them with is pellet gun to shoo them away. To us it looked like he was standing guard over his masterpiece. To the park visitor he looked like a Ranger in uniform shooting wildlife. Maybe I’m being too critical because, after all, he was now working on two signs. He had begun work on the PARKING LOT sign and that was no easy task because it had to have a directional arrow routed on it.

Bob rebounded in August and added “ORIC PARK” and “ELEVATION” for a grand total of 17 characters!  Go Bob! Not only that but he finished the parking lot sign that month. I went over to inspect his completed work. It looked okay but I then asked him exactly where he intended to place the sign. He told me he was going to put it on the right side of the roadway before the vehicles turned left into the parking lot. I then asked, “Then why does the arrow point right?”  Bob went stomping off into his house. I guess it must have been time for a smoke and a coffee again. The next day Bob told me to come over and look at the sign again. He had rip-sawed the arrow portion of the board and re-doweled and glued it with the arrow on it turned upside down so that it now pointed in the opposite direction!  Very clever.

The first week of September showed us what Bob was made of. He not only finished routing “8375” but he burnished all of the letters to give it the rustic appearance he wanted. The sign was officially completed on September 15th, a little more than 5 months since work had begun.  It was a sure sign of our times. I guess things just went at a slower pace in those days!

Bodie's annual Friends of Bodie day is August 11, 2012. This year's theme is Livin' in the Past Lane. For more information, please visit the Bodie Foundation website, www.bodiefoundation.org or click here.



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