September 2011 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles



Cerro Gordo is again open to day visitors, road and weather conditions permitting.

Please phone (760-876-5030) for current conditions before venturing out!

A caretaker is living on on the site and visitors must check in before venturing around the ghost town.

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.

Phone 760-876-5030 for current information or contact us through email at:


Robert C. Likes, co-author of From This Mountain--Cerro Gordo, has  completed a second book about Cerro Gordo.

Click on the cover image (above) to learn more.

This is a story of a generation that sought its own self-identity in a world that suddenly became more complicated with an uncertain future and values.

This epic journey was staged on desert mountains, on steamboats carrying silver bullion across a desert lake, and on a freighting trail that traversed 200 miles of inhospitable desert.

Mules can taste the difference--so can you

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.


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.

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




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.



Visions and Ventures of Victor Beaudry

by Cecile Page Vargo

Born in Montreal, Canada, Victor Beaudry followed the 49ers to California for the gold rush, and wound up in San Francisco with his brother Prudent. The siblings had a profitable commission and shipping business until commercial conditions in the city became unstable. Prudent invested $26,000 of his own money into a general mercantile. Victor eventually left his brother with the mercantile, and headed to Central America, interested in plans for the

Portrait of Victory Beaudry as he might have during in his Cerro Gordo days (1866-1876) painted by Robert C. Likes.

 Nicaragua Canal. Prudent took over the San Francisco business, eventually moving to Los Angeles. Prudent’s successes in mercantile and real estate ventures led him to dabble in politics which in turn won him position as Mayor of the City of Angeles. Victor would join him in the real estate and water works in Los Angeles, but made much of his fortunes in the California mining industry along the way.

By 1855, placer mining in the waters of the San Gabriel River caught Victor Beaudry’s attention. His name was among those listed in newspaper articles as having helped to form the Santa Anita Mining Company, with a capital of $50,000. Under his direction and that of another future mayor of Los Angeles, Damien Marchessault, hydraulic works were erected for the mines. A minor gold rush in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles ensued.

Beaudry and Marchessault also found work to sustain them in down town Los Angeles by selling block ice to saloon keepers. An ice house was built in 1859 that enabled the two men to expand their business by selling door to door throughout the hot summer months. Beaudry and Marchessault would also have significant impact on Los Angeles water systems in later years.

The start of the Civil War in 1861 prompted Victor Beaudry to head east to join the First Regiment of Infantry, United States regular army. He fell back on his experience in general mercantile by providing much needed provisions as a sutler for the soldiers,. The toll of the war and the hardships he endured took a toll on Beaudry’s health as the war came to a close.

When fellow officers moved to Camp Independence in Inyo County, California, they persuaded him to join them, and open up a store there for the boys in blue. He also opened the Beaudry Hotel. Beaudry’s store and hotel both suffered great damages in the 1872 earthquake. The hotel was abandoned after the earthquake and opened later by a Dr. White as the Inyo County Hospital.

When Mexican miners discovered silver on Buena Vista Peak high in the Inyo Mountains, Beaudry saw opportunities to cash in on mining once again. Unpaid debts for supplies from his general store built in 1866 in Cerro Gordo would earn Beaudry rights to most of the Mexican mines. Within two years he and Mortimer Belshaw shared interests in the Union Mine. Both men built furnaces to smelt the precious silver/lead ore which would be shown off in Los Angeles on it’s way to the port of San Pedro via Remi Nadeau’s freight wagons and on to San Francisco by steamships. The output of base bullion produced approximately 5,000,000 pounds per annum for several years.

Water was important for survival of the mines and the miners in Cerro Gordo which was situated high and dry on desert mountain top. Victor Beaudry became known as the  “water king” when he ordered pipe shipped from San Francisco to pipe water from Inyo Mountain springs to the Cerro Gordo. He would also bring the precious liquid to the mining town of Darwin from Crystal and Granite Springs seven and nine miles away.

In 1876, Cerro Gordo’s mining boom faded, Victor Beaudry found his way back to Montreal where he married Angelica Le Blanc. They grew to a family of five children as time went by. From 1881 to 1886, Victor resided in Los Angeles and partnered with his brother, Prudent, once again. The Beaudry’s expansion and land development promotions helped Los Angeles to rise from pueblo to city with the creation of some of the first hilltop residential areas with piped water systems, beautiful landscapes, and cable car transportation to downtown work areas.

Victor Beaudry died in 1888 in Montreal, but the ghost of Cerro Gordo, and the thriving metropolis a half a day’s automobile drive away from it, stand as landmarks to his ventures and visions.


Spotlight on Cerro Gordo

by Roger Vargo

Video production beyond "tourist" video shots at Cerro Gordo is usually not permitted because concern for potential damage and disruptions. Student film maker Seth Castiglione convinced us to give him a chance to film a short video that would be used to accompany his application to the University of Southern California. The most convincing part was the quality of his previous work: L'homme Mysterieux.

Erik Higgins (l) tries on britches while Andy Morton adjusts a vest on the deck of the American Hotel.

Seth Castiglione adjusts his camera angle (far right) with Nathan Castiglione steadying the camera dolly. Erik Higgins (left) waits for his cue inside the American Hotel. Castiglione used a Canon DSLR camera and late afternoon ambient light to shoot HD video.

Andy Morton (r) works to get into character in the American Hotel lobby.
Outside the American Hotel, Seth Castiglione lines up another shot of Erik Higgins.

Seth Castiglione (l) frames a shot of Erik Higgins as sunlight begins to fade.

Seth and his crew were in and out of Cerro Gordo within four hours. Here's a sneak peak at his rough cut.


Cerro Gordo Invaded by Clampers!

More than 100 members of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus descended upon Cerro Gordo late in the afternoon of August 20 as part of the Billy Holcomb Chapter 1069 annual Summer Vituscan 4 x 4 event.

Red shirted Clamper brothers gather at the start of the Swansea Grade for a history and safety talk given by XNGH and Head Abbot Brian Nash (bottom, left). A variety of protective headgear (bottom, right) was warn.

The diverse group of vehicles heads across the flatlands into the Inyo Mountains

The group of 52 vehicles creeps slowly up one of the Swansea Grades tough uphill sections.

The Clampers stopped to take in the history of the Saline Valley Salt Tram and leave a new log book at the cabin.

After several flat tires, assorted coolant and oil leaks and a rattlesnake sighting, the group finally arrived in Cerro Gordo.




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