June 2007 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts








Click on the 4Runner or contact us at info@explorehistoricalif.com for tour information.


 The Land of Volcanoes

June 23-25, 2007

Please click on the photo 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


Mules can taste the difference--so can you




Friends of Jawbone president, Ed Waldheim (left) and Roger flip sausages at Moose Anderson Days-2007.




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

The Forever Bet

 By Ron Jenkins   © 2007

This month we invite you to sit back and read a little ghostly entry from Ron Jenkins, a fellow writer from www.gather.com. Ron hails originally from Pennsylvania where he spent his youth in the Appalachian region, but has traveled everywhere. He has completed several novels, and is currently working on a collection of short stories entitled Zephyrs Through the Hills and another novel.  For a taste of Ron's works go to www.ronnierayjenkins.com.

With just a few tidbits of information about Cecile, Ron put together this great little piece.  The characters, except for Cecile, are entirely fictional. So sit back and enjoy!

           The summer sun at 9000 feet broiled the desolate landscape as Cecile parked the four-wheel drive truck in front of the Cerro Gordo hotel built in 1871. The deserted ghost town, once flourishing with silver and lead miners, prostitutes, and cowboys now only offered the sound of wind blowing down the dusty dirt street. The blonde haired Cecile jumped down from the driver’s seat of the battered pickup truck, and stood with her hands on her hips surveying the weather beaten boards on front of the old hotel. It was her first time alone this late in the evening in the ghost town, and already she felt a sense that she was not alone. For Cecile, she hoped she was, because she stood to win a new pair of handmade cowboy boots and a bar of silver smelted from the silver mine that made the town famous.

The two story American Hotel as it stands today in Cerro Gordo.

           There was a catch though; she had to spend the night in the hotel, alone. She grabbed her backpack, and adjusted the six-shooter hanging from the low-slung holster around her waist, and walked slowly to the front door. The rusted hinges shrieked when she opened it, and she stepped inside welcoming the cool shade even though it was only a few degrees different from the skin baking heat outside. But, in less than an hour the sun would be going down anyway. She walked across the dusty boards that made up the lobby floor, and her boots left prints in the thick powder. Had she turned at the time, she would have noticed…the other set of prints that appeared behind her with each step she took. Cecile had company.

           Elinore Kramer was a ghost, and was still seeking revenge for her murderer and had been since one night in 1873, when her Madam who was half owner of the hotel at the time believed Elinore was withholding her “tips,” from the gentleman callers. Elinore swore to her boss she wasn’t. When the Madam searched her room in the hotel, and found 23 silver dollars under a folded stack of bloomers in her dresser drawer she wasted no time in dispatching poor young Elinore with a derringer she carried strapped to her thigh. Of course the sheriff decided it was in self-defense and his investigational time was spent in the company of three other prostitutes provided free of charge by the murdering Madam. Her dust-covered picture still hung on the wall behind the scarred front desk in the lobby.

           Cecile walked behind the scarred and bullet riddled front desk, and wiped the dust from the picture’s thin pane of glass. She studied the face of the woman whose blonde hair was pulled tight into a bun, and Cecile thought if she put her long blonde hair up she could pass for the woman’s twin. Slowly, she moved the picture to her face for a closer look. A small and tarnished brass plate was engraved with the name, Tilly Southern, Proprietor. Suddenly, the pane shattered as if struck in the center by a hammer. Cecile screamed throwing the picture to the floor, and dashed toward the door. She lowered her shoulder pushing it open, and jumped in the truck. After three trembling tries she finally got the key in the ignition. When she turned the key there was no roaring engine, in fact, there was nothing.

           Her wide eyes scanned the empty street from left to right. Then she heard it. Horse hooves clip-clopping on hard packed dirt. Straight ahead of her the Sheriff rode his brown stallion toward her. His eyes were hidden under the brim of his black Stetson, and his matching duster showed off a five-pointed silver star.

 Cerro Gordo in early 1900's. The American Hotel is the white building on right.                                                                              (L.D. Gordon Collecion, courtesy Doug Gordon)

           Behind him the sun lowered on the horizon, and then she heard the player piano’s happy music drift from out of the hotel. The long dead Sheriff circled her truck once then pulled the horse up to her driver’s side window. His face was pallid with sunken cheeks, he stared with lifeless blue eyes, and Cecile’s fingers pressed down on the door lock. She slid toward the passenger side quickly and locked that door too. The Sheriff’s gaze bored into her own scared eyes, and she watched his thin finger point at the door lock. A dry cry came from her throat, as she watched the button rise on its own. Another twitch of his finger and the truck door opened slowly, and Cecile felt herself floating out of the truck.

           She was lowered slowly until her feet touched the ground and she found herself standing in front of the Sheriff who looked down upon her from his saddle. Petrified, the fear seemed to freeze her to the ground. She wanted to run, but couldn’t. She cursed herself for all the times she wished she could have lived back in those days. She cursed louder when she looked down to see the high top buttoned shoes on her feet nearly hidden by the hoop dress.

           “Time to meet the new girls, Madam Tilly,” drawled words poured from the blue and icy lips of the Sheriff. She reached for the handle of the truck’s door, while keeping an eye on the Sheriff. Glancing from the corner of her eye, she jerked her reaching hand back. She twisted her head to see the truck was gone and in its place was a stagecoach. Cecile stepped back, and watched as three young women stepped out from the stagecoach, just as the last light of the orange sun took the light from the sky. In an instant the entire town came alive.

           The boardwalks clattered with the sound of boots, spurs jingled, and horses whinnied all about. Two men threw a drunk out the door of the hotel, and he landed in the street near the stagecoach. Cecile wanted out of it all. She felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned to see one of the girls from the stagecoach. Slowly, she tilted the parasol hiding her face, and Cecile could make out her face in the flickering lights on poles that lined the dusty streets and sent smoky trails into the night sky. Cecile’s fear was mixed with puzzlement. The young girl held out a white-gloved hand to her, and said, “ I’m Elinore, I’ve come from Chicago to work for you, and did you get my wire?”

           “Wire?” Cecile responded automatically. She new nothing about telegraphs except what she taught herself from books, she was used to cell phones. Now, these apparitions obviously thought she was Tilly, when in fact in the real world; the last counter she stood behind was as a receptionist at a YMCA.

           Elinore tugged on the long sleeve of Cecile’s dress seeking urgency to her question about the telegram, and repeated again to her.
           “The wire, I sent to you last week. Did you get it?”

           Cecile realizing she had to play the part of Tilly thinking it probably was the only way she was going to escape this dimension in time she was locked into.

           “No, it never arrived.” Cecile said. Her hope was Elinore would at least tell her what the telegram was about. Instead, Elinore just shook her head with disappointment. Cecile wanted to run from the town, but to where, she thought. Just then, a man with a huge handlebar mustache came to the hotel’s door. He yelled that Tilly needed to get busy. It was her partner, Pancake Bill Flannery.

           Cecile didn’t respond until she realized it was she, now Tilly that he was speaking to, and she moved inside followed by the three girls. The lobby was busy with all sorts of people registering for rooms. Cigarette and cigar smoke rolled from another open doorway. It must be the bar, Cecile thought. She walked into the packed room, and saw Pancake Bill behind the bar pouring a shot of whiskey for an already drunken miner. His coal black eyes looked at her, and he waggled his head for her to come over. The three girls obviously knew their jobs, and wasted no time getting acquainted with the men. Elinore moved to the card table where five men shared a bottle of whiskey. One of the men pointed to an empty chair, and she sat down.

           Cecile moved behind the bar, and Bill poured another shot for a dusty cowboy, and collected the coins from the pile he dropped on the counter. When he placed the money in the huge register, he turned to Cecile.

           “This came for you today,” he said. He handed her a yellowed envelope. It was a telegram from Chicago. She turned it over in her hands, and then opened it. Somehow it arrived late. She opened it and stared at the short sentence written in capital letters.

            “YOU ARE ONE OF US NOW.”

           Cecile’s weak knees barely held up her quivering body. Pancake Bill asked her if she was feeling okay, and that she looked like she saw a ghost. He said he had something for her that would make her feel better. Cecile watched the portly bartender reach under the long counter. He straightened and turned to face her holding out a small blue velvet bag.

           “A gift for being my partner,” he said.

           Cecile took the bag with her shaking hand and with two fingers pinched the drawstring. She reached inside and gasped at what she saw. The engraved silver derringer was a two shot model with inlaid pearl handles. She screamed when Elinore looked over at her smiling.

           The nightmare woke Cecile at seven-thirty the next morning. She chose to sleep in Elinore’s old room at the hotel last night. Sweating, she pushed the sleeping bag off her, it was already baking in the room. She dressed quickly, and walked to the window. Her truck was right where she parked it. The streets were deserted with the exception of rolling tumbleweed that bounced across the brown dirt of the road.

           The nightmare was soon forgotten, when it occurred to her she won the bet. Gathering her things, she hurried downstairs to the lobby. She paused at the picture on the wall of Tilly. She laughed at herself when she saw the glass was perfect. She held it closer to her face admiring the resemblance. Suddenly, the pane crashed as if hit by a hammer again. The picture crashed to the floor. The player piano struck up a happy tune. Cecile’s mouth hung open wide, but there was no scream. She would know forever now, how things really were “back then.”

Cerro Gordo returns to normalcy.

Pierce College Photo Field Trip

Katy photographs the Mulholland Aqueduct siphon in Jawbone Canyon.
Richard inspects an old NASA test vehicle while Katy and Kiyomi photograph it at the Calsilco pumice mine.
Katy photographs from the open pit into the tunnels at the Calsilco mine.
Katy, Richard and Kiyomi check out desert sculptures in Randsburg.
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