Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Randsburg, CA January 3, 2013

                                              Downtown Randsburg

Location: Randsburg is located between Ridgecreat and Kramer junction off of US 395. It is also 69 miles north of Victorville, California. I would suggest not visiting during the summer because daytime temperatures are well in the 100s. During the rest of the year this area is popular with off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

History: The boom began in 1895 when three prospectors discovered gold at the Rand Mine. Despite the heat and lack of water in the area some prospectors came.  However, over a year later in May of 1896 Rand Camp was still small with only three saloons and a boarding house. This would all change in the fall of 1896 when the cooler weather prompted people to arrive in droves. Stage coaches arrived three times a week with prospectors and their families hoping to strike it rich. Within a year builders had built houses, restaurants, a school, churches and post office.

The early camp was known for its general lawlessness. With so little water in the area and so many bars in town the alcohol flowed freely. This led to many skirmishes which resulted in fights, stabbings and murder. There were four murders in the fall of 1896. Later a group calling themelves the "Dirty Dozen" would become implicated with these murders as well as others that occured in Randsburg. Stories permeated western newspapers about the violence; ultimately slowing the development of the town. (Information from www.ghosttowns.com, www.randdesertmuseum.com and www.wikipedia).

                                           Stamp used at one of the mills used to process the ore

                                       Saloons were prevalent in Randsburg

                                    Old truck in town

                                    Antique shop in town

                                 City Jail

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bernardo Mountain Escondido, CA December 27, 2012

                          My dad on the trail; looking north near the summit

Trailhead and General Information: The trailhead for Bernardo Mountain is located off of I-15 south of Lake Hodges on Bernardo Drive in Escondido, California. Length is about 6.5 miles with 1000 feet of elevation gain. During the weekend the Lake Hodges area is popular with bikers so it is advisable to arrive early. Daytime temperatures during the summer are warm so bring a hat, sunscreen and water. An interesting backpacking trip would be to take the newly created coast to crest trail. This trail would take multiple days.

The hike: Leave the trailhead walking on the concrete path along Bernardo Drive. At the bottom of the hill cross Lake Hodges on the bridge to north side of the lake. After you cross the bridge turn left and hike along the north side of lake. At the San Dieguito River Park turn away from the lake and follow the trail to the backside of the mountain. From the San Dieguito River Park hikers or mountain bikes gain elevation quickly by switchbacks to  the top of the mountain. The view from the top of the mountain is very good and worth your effort. Flora in the area includes california scrub oak, eucalyptus, palms, poison oak; as well as many species of grasses. (Information from www.everytrail.com/viewtripphp?trip_id=949737).

             View toward I-15 (east) from the top of Bernardo Mountain

                             Beautiful picture looking northwest

                             Vegetation with surrounding mountains; very Mediterranean

Iron Mountain and Loop December 31, 2012

                                       Looking back toward the coast near Table Mountain

Trailhead and General Information: The trailhead for Iron Mountain and the loop starts at the Highway 67 Staging Area in Poway, California. This is a popular trailhead so get to the trailhead early. Most people hike Iron Mountain (a 6.4 mile round trip). Another popular hike is a loop on the Elie Lane Trail by Table Rock Mountain. This is an up and down trail with elevation gain and loss over 2000 feet and approximately 10 miles in length. During the summer temperatures are warm during the day so hike the trail only during the early morning or late afternoon and with plenty of water.

The hike: Today my dad and I are hiking the loop and climbing Iron Mountain. It will be approximately 10 miles with over 2000 feet of elevation and loss. Leave the trailhead. Take the first left and hike passed two ponds. After the second pond the trail joins the Ellie Lane trail. Stay right; hiking by Table Mountain. Near Table Mountain the trail climbs ravina to a pass overlooking Ramona and surrounding mountains.  Continue following the trail to the junction with the main Iron Mountain trail. If you want to climb from here to the top of Iron Mountain it is about one more mile. Flora for Iron Mountain includes Yarrow, Sagebrush, Coastlive Oak, California Scrub Oak, Eucalyptus. Information from: www.sandiegoreader.com, www.waynesworld.Palomar.edu/ironmt.htm 

                         My dad hiking on the Elie Lane trail

                  Rocky terrain near Iron Mountain

                     On top of Ramona Outlook looking east

                                  Looking south from the Ramona Overlook

                  Dad on top of Iron Mountain

                             Near the top of Iron Mountain

Looking south

The map of the Iron Mountain trails

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Calico, California December 23, 2012

                                                   Antique shop in Calico, California

Directions and general information: Calico is located 13 miles east of Barstow, California, off of Interstate 15. It is a recreated ghost town. The Knott family purchased the townsite in 1950. By 1966 Calico had been restored to former glory. The same year, San Bernardino County brought the town creating a park. To enter it cost $7 for each adult and $3 for each child. Camping is available for $30 without hookups. In nearby mountains opportunities abound for mountain biking and off-road driving. There are two restaurants in town which offer breakfast, lunch and dinner at a modest price. The best attraction in town is the Maggie Mine tour at $3 per person.

History: In Spring of 1881 three prospectors pitched camp in the nearby mountains. On the fourth day they struck a big  silver ore vein. News quickly spread throughout the west and prospectors came rushing in. Within a year a townsite prospectors had built a town site with shops, saloons, and homes. Eastern Calico became the town's Chinatown.

Production was great for 16 years before declining because of the price of silver ore. From 1880 to 1896 the huge producers were the Silver King, Bismark, Waterloo and Occidental mines. They  produced over $86 million worth of silver. Solid rock formations in the surrounding made working conditions favorable where miners were able to tunnel without having to timber the sides and roof. The prosperity would not last  because the mines were linked to the price of their own product. In 1880 the price of silver was worth about $1.29 per ounce. By 1896 it had fallen to 53 cents when the mines closed and Calico dried up.(Information from Calico Ghost Town California's Greatest Silver Camp Copyright Knotts Berry Farm)      

                                     Recreated Blacksmith Shop

                                 Chruch in town

                                    Recreated Calico from above

                           Stone house in Calico town site
                                          Maggie Mining Company: today a tour
                                 Cholla cactus

                                       Historic photo showing ore wagon being loaded

                                Tara in Maggie Mine

                             Headstone in cemetery

                                      Headstone in cemetery; this guy a Marine Corps

California Trail Interpretive Center Elko, Nevada October 13, 2012

      Pioneers used the term "Seeing the Elephant" to describe experiencing the hardships on the trail

General Information: The BLM recently opened the California Trail Interpretive Center in the spring of 2012. It is located off of Interstate 80  approximately 8 miles west of Elko, Nevada. Exhibits and informative displays tell the story of immigrants traveling west from St. Joseph, Missouri. Each diorama depicts hardships and life for the pioneers at various parts of the journey including the prairie, desert, and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. There is no entrance fee to see the exhibits; however, it is advisable to leave a donation. The gift shop has a number of interesting books about the trail and westward expansion.On the outside grounds there are a number of short trails: the longest 4.500 feet long which takes hikers to a vantage point of the Humboldt River. An Indian Encampment as well as informative signs are also available outside.

History: The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California created gold fever. Hundreds of thousands of easterners braved the perilous journey to stake their claim in the gold fields. They heard stories of guys and gals finding gold nuggets and being set for life. The reality was a lot harsher. Many died along the journey to the west. Others became injured in the mines or didn't find any gold and lost all they had. From 1849-1854 about 165,000 emigrants a year traveled to California by what is known as the northern route. Thousands of other easterners traveled  to southern California by crossing the Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona.

The route: It is important to note that the California Trail in most spots was not one trail but multiple trails. In this blog I will describe the main route. The main route started at St. Joseph, Missouri. It followed the Platte River to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. The Child's Cutoff took travelers to South Pass. From South Pass the Sublett Cutoff or Lander Road took travelers to Ft. Hall, Idaho. From Ft. Hall the trail ran through the City of Rocks to what is now present day Elko, Nevada. From Elko to Western Nevada it followed the Humboldt River. Present day Donner Pass was the main route over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to Sacremento.

Hastings Cutoff: The most famous cutoff of the California Trail was devised by Lansford Hastings in 1846. It was advertised in eastern newspapers as a way to drastically cut the time it took to travel to California. In reality the cutoff took wagon parties through some of the most isolated and barren desert in the west. Pioneers had long stretches with no water and during the summer temperatures routinely went well over 110 degrees fahrenheit. The route left the main trail at Fort Bridger. It went through Weber Canyon to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake it crossed the Great Salt Desert and it rejoined the main trail at Elko, Nevada. The Donner Party made the Hastings Cutoff famous in 1846 when they decided to take it. They lost time in the Prairie and desert and later became marooned in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Many in the party died from starvation or cold weather. (Information from: www.CaliforniaTrailInterpretiveCenter.org and A Guide to The California Trail by Richard Brock and Donald Brock).  

                              Wagon Wheel with brake pioneers used

                           Painting depicting the start of the trail: St. Josepth, Missouri

                                   Exhibit showing life for emigrants on the plains

                                    Exhibit showing harsh realities on 60 mile desert in western Nevada

              Beautiful etching showing wagons crossing mountains

                    A reproduction of a wagon that emigrants might have used

                                 The Indian encampment with the Center in the background