Cerro Gordo Ghost Town – Go! …before it changes!

Way up on a mountain, between Death Valley and Lone Pine, is the ghost town of Cerro Gordo. It’s a privately-owned site, which recently changed hands to a pair of businessmen. They have plans to preserve it, while adding lodging or retreat facilities. Those plans seem to be off to a slow start! https://cerrogordomines.com/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerro_Gordo_Mines

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If you see this when you leave the pavement, you’re on the right track!\

Locate “Keeler, California” on your map, and head up “Cerro Gordo Street”.

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Up we go! 5000 feet up the hill!

There is a narrow canyon near the bottom, then the road widens considerably. It was easy in a Wrangler and an Outback.

The caretaker said he gets all sorts of vehicles up there, including sports cars and rental cars. Last week, he had a Maserati, an Alfa-Romeo, and a Land Rover up there. The two Italians did not break down…

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The Owens Valley below, and snowy peaks in early June

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I see old wooden buildings!

Cerro Gordo got alot of press last year, when it changed hands. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/19/photos-california-ghost-town-cerro-gordo-sells-for-1point4-million.html

https://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hp-cerro-gordo-ghost-town-20180717-story.html

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The entry sign

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Just above the town

The first building we stopped in, and caught up with the caretaker, was the Assay Office.

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My friend put down his iPhone to test his typing skills…

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A pneumatic drill…not an anti-aircraft gun!

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Assaying equipment, to the left

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Bottle collection

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The wooden ore carts, with a metal liner, were lighter and easier to ship than the all-metal ones

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Workshop or storage

Robert, the caretaker, says the new owners seem to be a bit slow in their planning for the place…I also got the feeling that it’s a bigger task than they expected! There’s no water, and the best building, the American Hotel, is listing to starboard and needs alot of structural work.

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The American Hotel – the most impressive building!

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The bar, in the middle of the ground floor

This was very much a “hands-on” tour. We went behind the bar, touched a few of the bottles (to be sure they were empty). Robert kept telling us “this is not Bodie”, referring to the State Park, with similar old buildings, where you can only peek through the windows! (Bodie is ~175 miles north, just above Mono Lake. It’s larger, but alot less personal than walking around Cerro Gordo! http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509 )

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Paul, does your brother really drink this brand?

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The wonderful caretaker, Robert. The wall behind him has a bullet hole, and a blood stain on the floor. 

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A few of the necessities of mining!

Robert was great! We showed-up unannounced, and joined another small group he was showing around. We brought him a few gallons of bottled water, made a donation in the big jar, and bought one small ore sample from the dusty old gift shop.

One thing we forgot to ask about is the cemetery…I read about it after I got home!

Cerro Gordo will be changing…unless the new owners get cold feet. Perhaps you should consider visiting on a not-too-hot (or snowy) day.

About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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1 Response to Cerro Gordo Ghost Town – Go! …before it changes!

  1. jimpreston says:

    Great story! Thanks! I was raised in New Almaden, California’s first mining town, just after it was repopulated. It became a ghost town soon after the mines were shut in 1912 and started to come back to life in the late 1930’s.

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