September 2012 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

Visit our Explore Historic California site on Facebook



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.



Bodie Celebrates 50 Years

as a California State Park

Photography by Roger  Vargo

Gold was discovered in 1859 by W. S. Body and Blackie Taylor and the Bodie Mining District was formed in 1860. Bodie's early years were overshadowed by low production in Bodie and better opportunities in nearby Aurora and Virginia City.

A cave in that exposed a rich ledge of high grade gold ore in 1877 changed Bodie's future from a historical footnote to the subject of numerous books and articles. The town and mining district endured into the twentieth century, even though the population dwindled.  Banker J. S. Cain believed in Bodie's resurgence and acquired abandoned properties throughout the old mining town.

Bodie started to become a tourist destination in the 1930's. Ella Cain ( J. S. Cain's daughter in law) wrote the first book about Bodie, The Story of Bodie. The Cain family established a museum in town and staged some of the old buildings with items left behind from previous residents.

By the 1950's, it became apparent that Bodie would not resurrect itself to become a viable, modern town. The Cain family still had extensive holdings and began looking for a way to preserve Bodie while eliminating the financial drain the town had become.

Negotiations were completed  between the Cain family and the State of California in September, 1962. Bodie was on the way to joining the California State Park system.

This Associated Press story about Bodie's acquisition ran in the Oakland Tribune newspaper, September 16, 1962. Bodie didn't officially join the State Park system until some months later.


Bodie's 50th anniversary is also the 25th anniversary of the Friends of Bodie Day event. California State Senator Ted Gaines and former State Senator and Assembly member Paul Lunardi were on hand to present a Senate resolution recognizing Bodie's half century as a State Park.

(L-R) Former State Assembly member and former Senator Paul Lunardi, Brad Sturdivant, Bodie Foundation President, Calif. State Senator Ted Gaines, former Bodie ranger Carl Chavez and Marilyn Linkem, district superintendent for State Parks' Northern Butte District, pose with with a resolution honoring Bodie for its 50 years as a California State Park at the annual Friends of Bodie Day, August 11, 2012. Bodie is California's official Gold Rush ghost town.


 Read more about Sen. Gaines and Bodie at his website here.

Volunteer Marshall O'Grady donated this 50th Anniversary banner.

Retired senior park aid Rod Duff, an ordained minister, returned to Bodie to reaffirm the wedding vows of Jim and Diane Lockwood (above) and marry Brad and Lucinda Traughber (below) in Bodie's Methodist Church.

The Black Irish Band (left) along with costumed visitors were served arrest warrants for a Bodie jailhouse. Like the jail of old, nobody stayed in for very long.

Horses and wagons with costumed volunteers added authenticity and color to the event.

Members of the USMC color guard from nearby Pickle Meadows present the colors.

Carl Chavez (standing) talks about his experiences as a Park Ranger in the early days of of Bodie State Park. Listening are Bodie Foundation President Brad Sturdivant, also a former Park Ranger and  State Parks Sierra District Superintendent Marilyn Linkem.

Afternoon winds challenged some hat wearers.

Albert supervises the cooking while visitors cover up during a brief afternoon rain shower.

The after hours members special event featured historic stories. Chris Spiller portrays Edith Van Ciel, the last postmistress of Bodie outside the Lottie Johl house, which also served as Bodie's last Post Office (above). T. J. Peters portrays a Bodie schoolmarm outside the schoolhouse.



 Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by