October 2003 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts



View From the Road, September, 2003


Can This Mine be Saved?
You Can Make a Difference

         Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains high above the Mono Basin is an almost completely intact mine and mill.  Legend has it that two prospectors wondered up the mountain and discovered gold, but one miner was killed in an avalanche before they could do anything with the claim. The year would have been1890, and the  original file on this claim was listed as  the Mendocino. The mine and mill were active through the 1980’s.

            Until recently, only a few tried and true ghost towners or local residents have ventured up the dusty dirt road, and explored the area. Most refused to talk much about it in fear that less mindful  people would haul everything away. Today, the Inyo National Forest and the Mono Basin Historical Society have joined hands in efforts to preserve what remains. Plans are in the making to make this area safe for general public access to this important part of California ’s mining history.  Buildings are being locked and safety hazards removed.  Plexiglas may replace glass windows for viewing the complicated mining machinery inside these buildings. Interpretive signs may be put up to help visitors identify what they are seeing.  There’s even talk that a  caretaker will stay at the site during the summer months.

            The Mono Basin Historical Society is spearheading the preservation efforts for this nearly forgotten mine and mill, but they  can’t do this alone. If enough interest from people who care about preserving our mining history is not shown, there is a possibility that these efforts will stall, and this historic site will  fall victim to the harsh winter weather and to the vandals and souvenir hunters who have discovered it.

            Please e-mail us at info@explorehistoricalif.com or contact Don Banta of the Mono Basin Historical Society (760-647-6627) or mbhs@qnet.com, or the Inyo National Forest (760-647-3044), if you would like to  help save this endangered mine and mill.    Volunteers are also needed to help  collect oral or written histories from old timers that actually worked in this mine.  

Read more


William E. Carder---Gunfighter of Aurora
by Cecile Page Vargo

Our travels in September, 2003, took us to the remnants of  the prominent mining towns of  Bodie and Aurora.  Aurora , Nevada is so close to the California-Nevada border that it actually was the seat of  Mono County , California from April 1861-September 1863. Bodie and Aurora were noted for not only the mining that went on there,  but also for the bad men and women who lived there.  The story of William E. Carder  who rests lonely, but in peace, at the old Aurora , cemetery, is an example of the wilder side of these places, and represents the typical gunfighter story one expects to hear.

            A lonesome tombstone, cracked and fallen to the ground, appears cast aside and forgotten amongst the pinion pines and sagebrush of the cemetery in the ghost town of Aurora , Nevada .  The word “assassinated” is included in the engraved inscription on the marble stone that was so loving erected by the man’s wife in December of the year 1864. “William E. Carder, Native of Tennessee, ‘I  will avenge saith the Lord’”

            William Carder came to the California goldfields in the 1850’s, as so many men were inclined to do in those days.  His claim to fame was not the gold he found, but his reputation as a gunfighter.   An escapade robbing a Chinese miner of several hundred dollars of gold dust got him arrested at least once, but  the evidence against  him was insufficient to convict him, and he went on to other crimes,  as well as to help prevent a few more from being committed..  In the golden foothills of  the western side of the Sierras,  Carder was chosen second in command of the posse that tracked down and eventually captured the killer  of the Columbia ’s  City Marshal, John Leary.  William Carder fought on both sides of the law.

Our Tours with Ecological 4-Wheeling Adventures

Our 2003 tour season is complete and we're resting!

Please check back for our 2004 tour schedule.

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 visit our ECOLOGICAL 4-WHEELING ADVENTURES.

     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 15 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.

     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

Hit Counter
explorehistoricalif.com Copyright © 2003, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by death-valley.us