May 2009 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles





Sky high gas prices along with sluggish economic conditions have severely impacted our tour business for over a year.

We have reluctantly decided to suspend our tour operations for the time being.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who continue to support us.


LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our  logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt 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


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.


Mules can taste the difference--so can you




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



Click on the bag to find out how.


Visit Michael Piatt's site,, 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 Mono Lake Committee.


Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505

Hey Brother,

Can 'Ya

Spare a Job?

The nation's economic downturn has severely affected the newspaper industry. My job of nearly 30 years was eliminated several months ago.

I'm actively looking for full or part time job opportunities within my diverse skill set.

If you have, or know of any openings, please contact me through this CONTACT  link.




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.



The Mother of All Pandemics

by Cecile Page Vargo and Roger Vargo

A photo in the Oakland Tribune, Oct. 24, 1918, shows Spanish influenza victims being treated in a section of the Oakland auditorium that had been converted into a hospital.

The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 was "the mother of all pandemics" according to Dr. Jeffery K. Taubenberger and Dr. David M. Morens of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and National Institutes of Health. An estimated 675,000 Americans and 50 million died, worldwide — more than the total causalities of WW I.

The outbreak began in the United States in the spring of 1918 with only a few cases reported, "On March 30, 1918, the occurrence of eighteen cases of influenza of severe type, from which three deaths resulted was reported at Haskell, Kansas.” (Public Health Reports, March, 1918).

The Los Angles Times called the outbreak "pandemic", in this headline, Sept. 14, 1918.

Over the following six months the number of cases increased and the outbreak became an "epidemic" and "pandemic" by September. The Los Angeles Times reported on September 18, "Surgeon-General (Rupert) Blue of the public health service has made a telegraphic survey to determine the extent of the Spanish influenza in the United States. 'The disease is characterized by a sudden onset,' said Dr. Blue to the Associated Press, 'People are stricken on the streets, while at work in the factories, shipyards, offices or elsewhere.' "

The Times article quoted Dr. Blue as advising, "Treatment under the direction of the physician is simple, but important, consisting principally of rest in bed, fresh air, abundant food, with Dover's powder for the relief of pain. Every case with fever should be regarded as serous and kept in bed at least until temperature becomes normal."

Viruses were unknown in 1918. Dr. Blue attributed the disease, according to the Associated Press, as "the bacillus influenza of Pfeiffer." Methods of control, outlined by Dr. Blue were much the same then as today, "Isolation-bed isolation of the infected individuals during the course of the disease; Terminal disinfection-through cleansing, airing and sunning."

Many victims of the outbreak were in the military. According to an Associated Press story on September 24, 96 men had died at Camp Dix and 50 sailors, 8 marines and 83 civilians were hospitalized in New York City. "Nearly 2000 new cases of Spanish influenza in army camps had been reported to the office of the Surgeon-General of the army today, increasing the total number of cases to nearly 23,000."

The following day the Times reported in an Associated Press story, "FIVE THOUSAND GET INFLUENZA. Nearly Thirty Thousand Cases is Total Reported. Epidemic Appears in Twenty six States. Disease Reaches Coast in Few Isolated Cases."

"Surgeon-General Rupert Blue of the public health service said that latest reports showed that the malady made its appearance in twenty-six States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The disease is epidemic in New England, where it first made its appearance. Influenza has appeared on the Pacific Coast, in Washington and California, but is not yet epidemic there."

A Times headline from Oct. 11, 1918 announces the mobilization of doctors.

But the West was not spared. "Mobilization of all the doctors in California, Nevada and Arizona to combat epidemics of Spanish influenza was ordered today (October 10) by the United States public health service, it was announced here by Dr. W. C. Billings, sanitary officer of the service for California and Nevada. The public was warned by Dr. Billings to avoid picture shows, churches and all other places of assemblage until the epidemic has passed."

According to the article, 1000 cases were reported that day in California. Los Angeles had 86, Riverside, 160 and San Francisco, 226.

Four days later, a Times story tried to quell residents' fears. "There is nothing in the so-called epidemic of influenza in Los Angeles to warrant any scare, any apprehension or any interruption of business or the ordinary transactions of life."

Los Angeles' young film industry was also affected by the epidemic. The Times reported, "Triangle studio has closed for a month, and so has the Sennett studio. No orders have yet been issued from headquarters to the Fox, Ince, Vitagraph and Metro studios. At the Lasky studio, where several companies are working at present, Cecil de Mille and Norma Talmadge commenced work on new pictures last week, and Vivian Martin and Ethel Clayton are to start on new pictures today."

Impervious to the Times' public hand holding, the number of cases continued to increase in California. "The total number of cases of Spanish influenza reported in California since October 1 was increased to 17,000 today (October 17) by reports of 4000 additional cases. A proposal to close all the moving-picture theatres, churches and other places of public assemblage in the state not subject to medical inspection, during the Spanish influenza epidemic period, is to be considered at a special meeting of the Board of Health here tomorrow."

As the deadly Spanish influenza spread, the tiny population of remote Cerro Gordo in Inyo County was not to be spared. The disease quickly moved west touching nearly everyone in its path by the fall of 1918.  Correspondence began pouring in and out of Cerro Gordo with concerns, as California was hit by the deadly bug.


J. Wilson Reno was the purchasing agent for Cerro Gordo Mines and operated out of San Francisco.

The Mojave Desert mining town of Randsburg did not escape the epidemic either. James Quinn, a miner from Atolia, became ill on October 18. By order of Judge Maginnis, he was taken to a "pesthouse" for isolation where he died October 22. E. E. Niehaus, 26 and his wife, Edith, 21, died the following day. The town physician, a Dr. Maxwell, was reportedly exhausted from two weeks of overwork and was taken to Bakersfield to recuperate. The flu outbreak was taken very seriously in the Rand mining towns; all the bars voluntarily closed their doors.

Back in Owens Valley, more people were falling victim to the flu.



By November, the total number of cases in California was reported to be 100,000, but the epidemic had began to subside according to a Times story, "The Spanish influenza epidemic has begun to subside, officials of the State Board of Health said today. There has been a material falling off in the number of new cases reported."

The disease did not begin to disappear from California until the summer of 1919, according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Many flu remedies and patent medicines were sold. Professor Robert C. Wilson, "head of the department of pharmacy of one of the leading educational institutions of the country," according to a Times story on November 20, 1918, invented a new preventative treatment "composted of the most powerful antiseptics and germicides known to science." The product was called Wilson's Solution or Anti-Flu. A bottle good for a week's treatment sold for 35 cents. Users were instructed to sprinkle a few drops on a handkerchief and "inhale at frequent intervals during the day, especially when entering crowds or public places."

Hill's Cascara Quinine was a frequent Times advertiser in 1918.

A Times' story touts the benefits of Dr. Wilson's treatment in Nov. 1918.

Kerosene mixed with sugar or turpentine with honey were a common folk remedies for sore throat during this time period. Turpentine was also mixed with lard and rubbed on the chest, then covered with a flannel cloth that helped to "drive the medicine right into the lungs."

Mining camps such as Goldfield, and Tonopah, Nevada, hit hard by the epidemic, resorted to local remedies such as Indian root and sagebrush tree. Tonics of hyssop, dittany, Peruvian bark, orange peel, anise, coriander seed, gentian, yarrow, nutmeg, thyme, rose leaves and port wine were concocted and drank by the glassful.

Whiskey was also a popular prescription and more than likely readily available in any isolated mining camp during the time period.  Liquid Sozodont, Men-Tho-Eze, Lysol disinfectant, Vicks Vapo RubHyorlick's Malted Milk, and the Hyhomel Inhaler were also touted as good flu preventatives and germ destroyers.





The Oakland Tribune  reported good news about the epidemic, Nov. 3, 1918 (above). The Times ran an ad for Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Purgative Pellets in January, 1919. Things were looking better when people again had time to worry about their bowel functions (below).



1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 12, No.1, January 2006
Dr. Jeffery K. Taubenberger and Dr. David M. Morens


The Reinvention of Cerro Gordo
by Cecile Page Vargo
Paper presented at the Nevada Boom Town Conference, February 2006

The Great Pandemic-The United States in 1918-1919
by the United States Department of Health and Human Services


The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
Molly Billings
Stanford University, 1997

Historic Los Angeles Times archive stories and advertisements

via ProQuest


Historic Oakland Tribune archive stories




Moose Anderson Days 2009

Jawbone Station's 13th Annual Cleanup

by Roger Vargo

              A swarm of volunteers descended on Jawbone Station Saturday, April 25, to help clean up public lands in the Jawbone Canyon and Dove Springs areas of Eastern Kern County.

            The volunteers came to the desert to support the Friends of Jawbone's Thirteenth Annual Moose Anderson Days by donating their time and labor to remove trash, debris and non-native vegetation from the area. Contributing to the work effort this year were 30 young men and women from the Kern County Sheriff's Activity League.

            "All the people that I talked to when they registered were more than happy to help clean up the best riding area in Kern County. Most of these people have been coming to Jawbone Canyon and the surrounding areas for years. We have generations of families that ride here," said Cindy Velador, Friends of Jawbone secretary.

            More than 1000 pounds of litter and trash was collected and removed. Benz Sanitation provided bins and haul away service. Ed Waldheim, Friends of Jawbone President, said, "This 13th Annual Moose Anderson Days was one of the best organized we have ever had. From the registration to the coordination by BLM staff for all of the specific job locations, everything went like clockwork and our desert is cleaner for it." 

            Moose Anderson Days is an annual event named in honor of Mark "Moose" Anderson who served on California's first Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Commission. He was later involved in a motorcycle accident in Baja, from which he eventually died.  When Jawbone Station was built in 1996, the building was dedicated in Anderson's memory.

             After working up an appetite in the gusty winds, the more than 300 participants returned to Jawbone Station in the early afternoon, and were treated to a BBQ lunch cooked by members of Kern County Search and Rescue. Following lunch, raffle prizes were awarded to lucky ticket holders. More than 100 items were given away including gift certificates, motorcycle helmets, riding apparel, tools, t-shirts and toys.

            Frances Tafoya of Modesto, Calif., won the grand prize, a Honda EU2000i portable generator donated by Honda Research and Development of Cantil, Calif. This was her second year attending Moose Days and the first time the generator winner was present at the drawing.

            A road grader, tractor, water truck and dump truck, along with other equipment acquired through California OHV and federal recreational trail program (RTP) grants were on display. The equipment is used throughout the area for trail maintenance.

            The event continued Sunday morning, April 26, beginning with a hot breakfast sponsored by the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA). Motorcycle and OHV riders then embarked on a poker run in the Jawbone Canyon area. Linda Stahl took first place and a helmet camera, in the poker run with four of a kind, Ace high. Three of a kind and a pair of sevens were good enough to earn Ron Rodriguez second place. A mixed hand, King high, gave Eric Caudillo third place.

            Four wheel drive vehicle enthusiasts explored historic mining areas in the El Paso Mountains with Explore Historic California's interpretive guides. Starting near Garlock, the group of eight vehicles followed trails used by prospectors through the Goler Narrows and into the interior of the El Pasos. Visiting Holland Camp, Burro Schmidt's Tunnel and Bickel Camp, they learned about the diverse mineralogy and colorful residents of the area.

             Moose Anderson Days is organized each year by the Friends of Jawbone Canyon. The organization represents a coalition of recreational users, government land managers, private property and business owners. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month at Jawbone Station.

            This year's event was produced with the assistance and sponsorship of the Bureau of Land Management (Ridgecrest Field Office), California OHV funds, Ed and Linda Waldheim, CORVA, X-West, Kern County Search and Rescue, B.P.M.C Racing, Benz Sanitation, Nosala Engineering, American Motorcycle Association District 37, Honda Research and Development, Crystal Geyser water, Explore Historic California, Kiewitt Engineering,, Monagan Motorsports, O'Neil Racing, Paul Kober and Fred Peters, Scott's Performance Products, United Rentals, Wimpy's Diner of California City, Kern County Waste Management, Calif. Association of 4-Wheel Clubs, Inc., The Trail Crew 4x4's, Rio Tinto Minerals/Bass Pro Shop, Coyote Café of California City and Road Race City.




Friends of Jawbone's heavy equipment arsenal, including a tractor, road grader, Bobcat, water truck and dump truck  acquired through California OHV and federal recreational trail program (RTP) grants are displayed. The equipment is used throughout the area for trail maintenance.


Thirty youth volunteers with the Kern County Sheriff's Activity League pick up litter near Blue Point in the Jawbone Canyon area of eastern Kern Co. Three hundred volunteers showed up and collected about 1000 pounds of trash.


A volunteer looks over some of the door prizes. About 100 items were given away to lucky winners after lunch.


The lunch line forms (top) outside the station, while servers inside (above, left) make up plates of chicken, beans and salad. The al fresco eating area (above, right) was under a tent.


Frances Tafoya, center, of Modesto, Calif., poses with Friends of Jawbone President Ed Waldheim (right) and members of her family. Tafoya won a Honda EU2000i generator donated by Honda Research and Development.


A CORVA-cooked hot breakfast of sausage, eggs, French Toast, coffee and Tang greeted Sunday participants.


Our 4WD interpretive tour began at the Goler cemetery (top). Pine Mountain Club neighbors Ron and Bev Cressey (above left) drive their Toyota FJ  and Bill Halstead (above, right) drives his Jeep through the Goler Narrows into the El Paso mountains. Ed Lucio (right) conquered the narrow entrance in his Nissan truck (right). The excursion ended with a tour of Bickel Camp (below). Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by