November 2010 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

Bodie Foundation
"Protecting Bodie's Future by Preserving Its Past



Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.

Mules can taste the difference--so can you



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:

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 Bodie Foundation.

Credo Quia Absurdum

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.



Fremont's Second Expedition

Part I - The Calm before the Winter Storms

by Cecile Page Vargo

Three years before the Donner party made its fateful early winter Sierra Nevada crossing, the "Great Pathfinder", John C. Fremont, set out on his second expedition, setting precedence that should have stood as foreboding to any and all choosing to head west following a similar path.  The journey began in the spring of 1843 with orders to survey the Oregon Trail from the Rocky Mountains west to the Pacific.

Portrait of John C. Fremont, published 1861.

(Library of Congress collection)

Thirty nine men were picked to join him, at least six of which had traveled with him before. In addition to the usual camping, hunting, food, scientific supplies and trail animals, his party was outfitted with the infamous Howitzer that would become a bullet in his side long after it was abandoned along the trail.

As Fremont bid farewell to his wife a mere six months after his return from his first expedition, the couple took some comfort knowing they would only be separated for eight months. Jessie Benton Fremont was a staunch supporter of her husband, and wise in the ways of discovery, expansion, and politics thanks to her status as daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Even as her husband’s party outfitted themselves for their adventure at a stopping point four hundred miles away from St. Louis where the couple had said their goodbyes, she made sure nothing detained his mission.  After his departure, upon the arrival of a government letter addressed to her husband regarding the necessity of the 12 pound Howitzer taken along for protection against Indians, she quickly intercepted.

Worried about political implications and the possibility of her husband not getting a jump start on the harsh winter snows in the mountainous country along his intended route, instead of the sending the letter addressed to him, she entrusted two messengers on horseback with her words urging:  “Only trust me and go…”

The sojourn to Oregon went by relatively uneventful as expeditions go with the usual fluctuations of food and game, a bout of sickness amongst the men from tainted buffalo meat, as well as both excited and cautious encounters with various Indian tribes, mountain men, trappers, emigrant parties, and wild animals. The trail breaking and path finding altered between smooth and precipitous over desert and mountainous terrain, in all manner of inclement and good weather. Appropriate notations of flora, fauna, geology, geography, astronomy, meteorology and various instrumental observations were marked in journals. Within six months Fremont and his men accomplished all that had been expected of them. Mapping and place naming along the way would insure that Fremont and his men were not forgotten in history. It was now time to head back to Missouri with their findings.

On January 18, 1844, Fremont suddenly made the decision to abandon his Eastern course and to cross the Sierra Nevada towards the Valley of the Sacramento. According to his memoirs his ”decision was heard with joy by the people and diffused new life throughout the camp.”

In the next few weeks encounters with Indians warned of dangers ahead.

Map of an exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 and to Oregon & North California in the years 1843-44 / by Brevet Capt. J.C. Frémont of the Corps of Topographical Engineers; lith. by E. Weber Co., Baltimore, Md.

(Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)

Excerpts for Fremont's journals (John Charles Fremont, Explorer of the American West, Memoirs of My Life-Second Expedition 1843-1844)

January 28, 1844

   …Several Indians appeared on the hillside, reconnoitering the camp, and were induced to come in; others came in during the afternoon; and in the evening we held a council…

   …We explained to the Indians that we were endeavoring to find a passage across the mountains into the country of the whites, whom w were going to see; and told them that we wished them to bring us a guide, to whom we would give presents of scarlet cloth and other articles, which were shown to them.  They looked at the reward we offered, and conferred with each other, but pointed to the snow on the mountain, and drew their hands across their necks, and raised them above their heads, to show the depth; and signified that it was impossible for us to get through.

January 31, 1844

     …it began to snow heavily, with very cold weather.  The Indians had only the usual scanty covering, and appeared to suffer greatly from the cold. All left us except our guide. Half-hidden by the storm, the mountains looked dreary; and, as night began to approach, the guide showed great reluctance to go forward. I place him between two rifles, for the way began to be difficult. Traveling a little farther, we struck a ravine, which the Indian said would conduct us to the river; and as the poor fellow suffered greatly, shivering in the snow which fell upon his naked skin, I would not detain him any longer; and he ran off to the mountain where he said there was a hut near by. He had kept the blue and scarlet cloth I had given him tightly rolled up, preferring rather to endure the cold than get them wet.

     …In the course of the afternoon, one of the men had a foot frost-bitten.

We had made a forced march of twenty-six miles, and three miles had given out on the road. Up to this point, with the exception of two stolen by Indians, we had lost none of the horses which had been brought from the Columbia River, and a number of these were still strong and in tolerably good order. We had now sixty-seven animals in the band.

   …We had scarcely lighted our fires, when the camp was crowded with nearly naked Indians….We gathered together a few of the most intelligent of the Indians, and held this evening an interesting council.  I told them that we had come from a very far country, having been traveling now nearly a year, and that we were desirous simply to go across the mountain into the country of the other whites.  There were two who appeared particularly intelligent—one, a somewhat old man. He told me that, before the snows fell, it was six sleeps to the place where the whites lived, but that now it was impossible to cross the mountain on account of the deep snow…”

February 4, 1844

    …Tonight we had no shelter, but we made a large fire around the trunk of one of the huge pines; and covering snow with small boughs, on which we spread our blankets, soon made ourselves comfortable. The night was bright and clear, and though the thermometer was only down to 10 degrees, a strong wind sprang up at sundown, made it intensely cold; and this was one of the bitterest nights during the journey.

     …Two Indians joined our party here; and one of them an old man, immediately began to harangue us saying that ourselves and animals would perish in the snow, and that if we would go back, he would show us another and better way across the mountain. …..

      …We had now begun to understand some words, and with the aid of signs, easily comprehended the old man’s simple ideas. “Rock upon rock—rock upon rock—snow upon snow- snow upon snow,” he said. “Even if you get over the snow, you will not be able to get down from the mountains.”




A Newer World-Kit Carson, John C. Fremont, and The Claiming of the American West

by David Roberts

Simon & Schuster, 2000


Fremont Explorer for a Restless Nation

by Ferol Egan

University of Nevada Press, 1977


Jessie Benton Fremont

by Pamela Herr

University of Oklahoma Press, 1987


Memoirs of My Life, John Charles Fremont Explorer of the American West

New Introduction by Charles M. Robinson III

Cooper Square Press, 2001


John C. Fremont lithograph and expedition map

Unites States Library of Congress


Cerro Gordo Update


Cerro Gordo's American Hotel (center) and nearby buildings are surrounded by a blanket of snow.

The ghost town of Cerro Gordo is again open to day visitors!

Cerro Gordo is again welcoming day visitors, road and weather conditions permitting. The town is open during daylight hours.

A full time caretaker is living at the site and visitors must check in before venturing in the ghost town.

Phone Cerro Gordo for current information: 760-876-5030.

No supplies or accommodations are available at Cerro Gordo and visitors should bring plenty of drinking water and haul out their own trash. The dirt road from Keeler to Cerro Gordo is a steep, eight mile ascent. Four wheel drive is not usually required, but vehicles should have adequate ground clearance.

Stay tuned to this website or our Facebook page for updates on Cerro Gordo's status.

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