September 2013 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles

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Cerro Gordo is



The town is open during daylight hours, road and weather conditions permitting.


Please contact owner Sean Patterson (661-303-3692) or Robert at Cerro Gordo for information and current road conditions:

(760) 876-5030


(909 856-4434


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.

ISBN: 978-0970025869

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.



Early Los Angeles

Part II: Headlines from the Bowels of the City of Angels

By Cecile Page Vargo

This is the second part of a two-part story on the early days of Los Angeles. The first part is located in the EHC August archive, here

Calle De Los Negroes, better known as "Nigger Alley", was a 40 foot wide street from Aliso Street to the City of Angels Plaza, and considered the local underworld, complete with “dens of gambling, whore houses, thieves, cutthroats and confidence men.” It was comprised mostly of desperate and poor Mexicans and hapless Indians. Several Indians were described as laborers and house and farm servants, that chose drink and cards over bread and meat. In addition to "Nigger Alley", most of the streets of Los Angeles proclaimed a grog-shop for the Indians at every other house, which contributed to the problem even more.

This 1894 Sanborn map (above) shows a well defined "Nigger Alley" near Aliso St. and Alameda St. in 1894.                              (Map courtesy L.A. Public Library via Proquest)


The photograph below shows  Calle de los Negroes "Nigger Alley" looking north, circa 1882. A dilapidated adobe stands on the corner to the left, losing its spackle, while shop fronts stand along the street to the right.                  (Map courtesy USC Digital Library)

“Human life at this period was about the cheapest thing in Los Angeles and killings were frequent. Nigger Alley was as tough a neighborhood, in fact as could be found anywhere, and a large portion of the 30 or 40 murderers a month were committed there...” (Harris Newmark;  Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913)

Newmark also wrote of Sonora Town, the site of present day Chinatown: 

“We entered Sonora Town where my friend told me that everything there was much indulgence in drinking, smoking, and gambling. Returning to Main Street we entered the Montgomery, one of the well known gambling houses situated nearly opposite the Stearns home, and rather aristocratic, not only in its furnishings, but also in its management.  This resort was managed by the fearless William C. or Billy Getman, afterward Sheriff of Los Angeles County, whom I saw killed while trying to arrest a lunatic.”

Views of Sonora Town (Los Angeles). The top image was taken between 1882 and 1892. The bottom image was taken between 1870 and 1879 and shows a birdseye view across Sonora Town. Two small, one-story rancher- or saltbox-style houses are visible behind a picket fence in the foreground while the rest of the residential Sonora Town is visible after a cleared interval. Mountains are visible in the distance.

 (Images courtesy USC Digital Library)

Controversial Horace Bell came to the pueblo in 1852. Noted as a blackmailer, murderer, thief, house-burner, snake hunter, and defamer of the dead, Horace was a mercenary, who joined in adventures to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and fought in Mexico and the American Civil War.  He became of a member of the vigilante force known as the Los Angeles Rangers, and by the 1860’s was practicing law, and editor of a reform sheet known as the Porcupine. Bell’s description of Los Angeles was, “A nice looking place--the houses generally looking neat and clean and were well whitewashed.” After his first night visiting Calle de Los Negroes, he described it as “the most perfect and full grown pandemonium.”

Horace Bell

“There were four or five gambling places and the crowd from the old Coronel Building on the Los Angeles street corner to the Plaza was so dense we could scarcely squeeze through. Americans, Spaniards, Indians, and foreigners pushing and crowding along from one gambling house to another, from table to table...while at the upper end of the street, in the rear of one of the gambling houses was a Mexican maroma in uproarious confusion. They positively made the night hideous with their howling. Every few minutes a rush would be made, and maybe a pistol shot would be heard, and when confusion would learn that it was only a knife fight between two Mexicans, or a gambler had caught a bullet. Such things were a matter of course and no complaint or arrests were ever made.”

“There were more desperadoes...than in any place on the Pacific coast, San Francisco with its great population not excepted.” 

The Los Angeles Star reported in 1852, “With all our natural beauties and advantages, there is no country where human life is so little account. Men hack one another to pieces with pistols and other cutlery, as if God’s image were of no more worth than life of one or two or three thousand ownerless dogs that prowl about our streets and make night hideous.”

Presbyterian minister James Wood wrote in his diary November 12, 1854,

“Thus while I have been in Los Angeles only two weeks, there have been it is said eleven deaths, and only one of them a natural death-al the rest by violence-some killed in quarrels-some in being taken for crimes-some assassinated...last week a Mexican called upon an Irish woman who kept a drinking establishment and as she opened the door he shot her in the breast; he then rode around to the Bella Union and snapped his pistol at a man who immediately pursued him on horseback to take him prisoner, but refusing to surrender the man shot him in the groin and took him. He died the next day in the jail yard, the woman whom he had shot died also.”

November 16, 1854 Southern Californian:

“This week has been comparatively quiet; four persons have been killed it is true but it has been considered a poor week for killing; a head or two has been split open and an occasional case of cutting has occurred but these are minor matters and crate but little feeling.”

J.M. Guinn reported in 1854:

“It is said that Los Angeles averaged a homicide for each day of that year…Then the law-abiding citizens arose in their might and the shape of vigilance committees and military organizations put an end to the saturnalia of crime, and to many of the criminals as well. The gallows tree on Fort Hill bore gruesome fruit and the beams over corral gates sometimes were festooned with the hangman’s noose. In less than a year twenty-two criminals, bandits, murderers and thieves, were hung in accordance with the laws or without law which ever was most convenient or most expeditious; and more than twice that number expatriated themselves for the country’s good, and their own.”

William H. Brewer famed geologist and botanist wrote to his brother in late 1860:

“This Southern California is unsettled. We all continually wear arms-each wears both bowie knife and pistol (navy revolver), while we have always for a game or otherwise a Sharp’s rifle, Sharp’s carbine, and two double barrel shotguns. Fifty to sixty murders per year have been common here in Los Angeles and some think it odd that there has been no violent death during the two weeks that we have been here…as I write this there are at least six heavily loaded revolvers in the tent, besides bowie knives and other arms...”

Between drifters, and the bad men, wealth was plentiful in Los Angeles. The wealth was not the gold from the mines, but gold "on the hoof" with the rancheros and millions of cattle being sold for hides and tallow at a good price. Money was tossed around in a flammable social mixture and “human dislocation and friction walked the streets looking for trouble.” Los Angeles had no formal government, little law enforcement, and vigilante committees formed to take matters in their own hands.

At one point the Los Angeles Star reported: 

"The Mayor, City Marshal and jailor of Los Angeles were indicted by the grand jury for selling out the services of Indians arrested for minor offenses and dividing the funds thus received. The jailor was also charged with such negligence that it was altogether a matter of their own choice whether prisoners remained in jail or not. In one case he furnished tools to the prisoner to effect his escape.”

By 1871, an accidental killing of a white man by a Chinese created a mob attack in Chinatown where 19 Chinese were slaughtered. The headlines shouted across America, and Los Angeles was shocked into sobriety.

Photograph of old Chinatown, Los Angeles (circa 1875) at the junction of Los Angeles Street, Arcadia Street and Aliso Street. It  was the scene of a Chinese massacre in 1871. The long low building, center, was the Coronel adobe. The stagecoach in the foreground was owned by the Lafayette Hotel, the second Los Angeles hotel (after the Bella Union), owned by C. Fluhr (Fleubul?). "Nigger Alley", so-named because originally several Negros lived in it, is at the extreme right of the image and ran north from Los Angeles Street toward Aliso Street, ending where Dr. Gelsich had an apothecary shop. The Coronel house was the scene of the beginning of the Chinese massacre.

(Images courtesy USC Digital Library)




A Short History of Los Angeles

by Gordon DeMarco

Lexikos 1988


California: American Guide Series

by Works Progress Administration

Mabel R. Gillis California State 1939


The Cattle On A Thousand Hills-Southern California 1850-1880

by Robert Glass Cleland

The Huntington Library 1941


History of Los Angeles County California 1880

by Thompson & West, Reprinted by: Howell-North 1959


Maps and historic images courtesy Los Angeles Public Library and USC Digital Library


Cerro Gordo Update

August, 2013

Cerro Gordo is again

welcoming visitors by appointment only!

The town is open during daylight hours, road and weather conditions permitting. The road is suitable for 4WD vehicles and 2WD vehicles with adequate ground clearance, proper tires and in excellent mechanical condition.

No services are available at Cerro Gordo (except out houses). Please bring your own food and water.

Please contact owner Sean Patterson (661-303-3692) or Robert at Cerro Gordo for information and current road conditions (760) 876-5030 / (909 856-4434.


Contact us via email (see link on left column) for additional information.



Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial 1913-2013


One Hundred Mules to walk the Route of the Los Angeles Aqueduct


October 15–November 12, 2013

On  the  centenary  of  the  opening  of  the  Los  Angeles  Aqueduct, Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio will perform One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a commemorative artist action to connect Los Angeles to its water source. This performative parade of 100 mules will traverse the 240 miles of pipelines and canals that bring water from the Eastern Sierras through a gravity-fed system to Los Angeles, passing through three counties and nearly 50 communities along the way. Mule power shaped the modern West and was a primary force in constructing the aqueduct, an engineering feat that took only seven years to complete despite the rough terrain.

The parade will take nearly a month, with public events planned in Bishop, Manzanar, the Owens Dry Lake Bed, Pine Canyon, Neenach, The Cascades, Hansen Dam, and Griffith Park. It will culminate in a Veterans Day Parade down Western Avenue in Glendale to welcome the mules into the City of Los Angeles on November 11, 2013, followed by a ceremony at the Equidome to celebrate our countrys equine labor force—the mule.

 This commemorative action is a prelude to Bending the Los Angeles River Back into the City, a work that will pierce the concrete jacket of the Los Angeles River and use a sixty- foot waterwheel to reconnect the land to the river that originally supplied water to the city.

 One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct is an action with a resolution to move forward into the next hundred years with renewed appreciation for this vital re- source: Let it be resolved that the citizens of Los Angeles will do better at utilizing this life-giving resource in the next one hundred years!

 This action is coordinated with the support of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) that has itself been working to make a new century of water delivery happen.

About the Metabolic Studio: The Metabolic Studio was formed in 2009 to support the signature projects of Lauren Bons artistic practice. The studio team also directs philanthropic support to the people, places, and projects that underpin the long-term goals of Ms. Bons work.

 The Metabolic Studio has been instrumental in helping to preserve Cerro Gordo's heritage.

For additional information, visit

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