November 2012 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

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Cerro Gordo officially


as of July 25, 2012

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


Announcing our Arcadia Publishing Book:



Cerro Gordo

by Cecile Page Vargo and Roger W. Vargo

ISBN: 9780738595207

Arcadia Publishing Images of America series

Price: $21.99

128 pages/ softcover

Available now!

(Click the cover image for ordering information)

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.

Mules can taste the difference--so can you

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:

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

Visit Michael Piatt's site,, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

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.



Pleasant Arthur Chalfant

Pioneer Newspaperman of the Inyos

by Cecile Page  Vargo

It was September, 1849, when more than one hundred wagons gathered west of Salt Lake City to decide which route would be the best to take to California.  Nineteen year old Pleasant Arthur Chalfant originally from Highland County, Ohio and more recently from Iowa, listened as the routes and the dangers ahead were described. He, like most of the others, had heard the cry of gold and was hoping to seek his fortune.

The wagons broke off into three parties, The Jefferson Party which traveled safely into Southern California via Cajon Pass, the Jayhawkers who met tragedy in Death Valley on their way to the Sierras through Walker’s Pass, and the San Francisco Party who chose to travel slightly southwest across Nevada to enter California from Beckwourth Pass, northwest of Reno. Pleasant was part of the San Francisco Party.

Pleasant tried his hand at digging at Bidwell Bar near Oroville, California. He also spent time in Trinity County store-keeping and doing other work until mining excitement in Florence, Idaho, called him northward. Here, in hostile Indian country along Indian Creek, he ran a sawmill. By March of 1867 he was in Boise City, Idaho married to Adaline Slater.

Virginia City, Nevada became the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pleasant Chalfant not long after their marriage and in 1868 the first of their eight children, William Arthur Chalfant was born.  They moved briefly to Suisun, California along the California coast, then to Owens Valley on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas where they settled in the town of Independence, the county seat of young Inyo County.

In 1870, Pleasant saw the need for a newspaper and joined forces with his half brother J. E. Parker to form the Inyo Independent newspaper. A printing press was acquired from the Esmeralda Union in Aurora. The pressroom itself was in the upstairs of the Chalfant house. Eldest son Willie was enlisted to help with the printing, and together father and son shared interests in the newspaper business throughout their lives.


Inyo Independent flag and masthead.

Courtesy Laws Museum

The settlers of Inyo County came to mine the rich minerals and to work the soil, competing with Native Americans for rights to the land which also was rich in fish and game. The stories of the communities and their day to day struggles became the headlines of the Chalfant newspapers. The great Cerro Gordo silver mining town in the mountains towering east of Lone Pine was of prime interest in the headlines and proved a boon to the newspaper business, with constant tales of ore production and the society of respectability and lawlessness that grew around it.

Pleasant continued to write and publish the Inyo Independent until 1881, when he sold his interest and decided to try his own hand at mining ventures once again in his Inyo County and on to Arizona. His efforts were mostly unsuccessful, and he returned to launch a new paper in April, 1885, the Inyo Register. The Register was a family effort, operated out of Bishop, north of Independence, with Willie as full partner, and younger Chalfant members typesetting and helping wherever needed.

The election of 1886 showed Pleasant Arthur Chalfant in the running for Inyo County Assessor. Son, Willie, took over as editor of the Inyo Register, and a twelve year career of public office was pursued. At one point, Pleasant was selected Receiver of the Land Office, also, but he was quick to resign upon learning that the appointment was brought on by a dishonest faction.

In addition to politics, newspaper publishing and printing, Pleasant also showed great mechanical ingenuity. He devised and patented machines for addressing and wrapping newspapers. He refused offers to sell them until they were improved. The newspaper wrapping machine was perfected, but burned in a fire that consumed the Chalfant home in the later years of his life.

Pleasant Arthur Chalfant was said to have been a man with a heart so full it kept his pocketbooks empty. Much of his salary went towards taxes of unfortunate friends. He was considered an honest, independent, and courageous man of convictions. Pioneer hospitality and generosity made up his spirit, with good works and progress receiving his support throughout his years. Money was for those who depended on him, the comfort and happiness of his family and home of utmost importance to him.

In early February of 1901, following a life of untiring and unselfish service to family, friends, and community, Pleasant Arthur Chalfant succumbed to a two week illness. His legacy was carried on in the Inyo Register newspaper run by his son until the 1940’s and still in print well into the 21st century.  Archives of both Chalfant newspapers can be found at the Eastern Sierra Museum in Independence, and Laws Railroad Museum in Bishop, serving as great resources for modern historians.   





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