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David A. Wright

Exploration Field Trips: May 1-3, 2000 - Trip with Alan Patera and Alan Hensher into Death Valley

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Exploration Field Trips:
May 1-3, 2000
Trip with Alan Patera and Alan Hensher into Death Valley

What do you do with three authors, two 4x4’s, two two-way radios, three cameras, and camping supplies? Send them to Death Valley, of course. For three days in the first week of May, 2000, fellow authors and historical researchers Alan Patera, Alan Hensher and myself explored Death Valley north and south.

Alan Patera writes and publishes the WESTERN PLACES series of monograph books.  Alan Hensher has been published in several periodicals as well as authoring several books, centering primarily on the history of Mojave Desert sites.

Alan Patera, who hails from Oregon, came south to California and picked up Alan Hensher; then the two came my way. At the time I was living in Ridgecrest, California. After overnighting with my wife and I, the three of us took off for Death Valley.  Alan was busy researching and photographing for a future edition of WESTERN PLACES, this time centering on the camps of the Funeral Range, which forms the eastern border of east central Death Valley.  Circumstances and changes of our journey lead Alan to plant the seeds of two more future books, this time centering just outside the northernmost section of Death Valley.

Below is a thumbnail sketch of the trip, based upon transcripts of my verbal notes on microcassette and photos.  There will be a video and narrative for each day of the trip in this thread.

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Day 1 - May 1, 2000

The first video in the series covers our travels on May 1, 2000.  The video is 37:19 long.  The video link to Part I is at:

trip-2000_pt-1.wmv

This time around, at the end of the video I added a photo slide show of my favorite images taken during the day, along with a little mood music.  To maintain context in the video and give details not seen in it, a narrative is given below. 

I rose early Monday morning, May 1st, the two Alan’s did not. The three of us had stayed up until well past midnight talking history, swapping files, photos and notes. I made last minute checks and additions to my gear and food while they slept in. An hour after we had planned to leave, we still had not yet done so. Our trip started at Denny’s in Ridgecrest, California, six blocks from my home. I had purchased an additional FRS radio for Alan Patera to use to keep us linked while traveling.  However, it turned out that Alan Hensher often sat on it much of the first part of the first day; prompting me to jokingly request he not do so because I was tired of anal transmissions from him.

A bit after 9:00 AM, we left Denny’s and pointed our grills toward Reilly ghost town site, located at the foot of the Argus Range in west-central Panamint Valley. The weather was clear with thin high clouds, a good day to go exploring. Entering Trona, we passed a number of bicyclists, loaded with camping gear, obviously going to Death Valley.

Passing out of Searles Valley and into Panamint, our first stop was to be Reilly. Not knowing where Reilly was but having some idea of where to look and a pair of binoculars, we made a few false starts up some desert roads before finally finding the right one. The two Alan’s and I were impressed with our tour of Reilly. Stone ruins, tin cans, water pipe and other detritus lay everywhere the eye could see.

Reilly was a minor mill camp, an outgrowth of the mining activity that centered on several Panamint Range canyons to the northeast, as well as the Darwin boom to the northwest in the 1890s.  Mineral was found in 1875, but languished due to its location for another seven years until Charles Anthony interested a New York capitalist by the name of Edward Reilly in buying claims.  Reilly formed the Argus Range Silver Mining Company and sold stock.  Charles Anthony took care of daily operations at the growing camp.  Soon a 10-stamp mill was built as well as a camp to house employees.  A post office was opened in January, 1883.  The camp had no water of its own, so the company built a pipeline southward and then westward up a nearby canyon.  Other hurdles soon created dull times in camp and the post office closed even before the mill began operations.  However, late in 1883 and early in 1884, the mill – which took up the name of the Anthony Mill – began crushing ore.  Mines on nearby hillsides eventually petered out, but the Anthony Mill was kept running by doing custom work for nearby mines.

The three of us enjoyed touring the fairly extensive ruins of Reilly and the Anthony Mill.  At the time of our trip, my plans for later in the month was to be part of an archeological dig at the site conducted by the BLM.  We left Reilly as it was beginning to warm up, being close to 90º, yet snow still lay on the shady slopes of the Panamint Range.

Running up Wildrose Canyon, I noticed that a patch of Panamint daisies were still in bloom. Panamint daisies grow only in this and a couple nearby canyons.  Unlike its far more common cousin, the Mojave daisy, the Panamint variety has a far larger flower and blooms very infrequently.  On this trip, we would find cactus and wildflowers blooming above about 3,000 feet.

Our two vehicle caravan continued to climb Wildrose Canyon, then crossed over the Emigrant Pass and Harrisburg Flat country and then dropped into the head of Emigrant Canyon.  There stopped at an unmarked spot to view a set of petroglyphs that are invisible in plain sight, if you know where to look.  On a nearby rock face is a faint, chisled inscription of a name and a date that appears to be made by somebody named Haworth or Hayworth in 1855.  Weathered and difficult to read, the three of us studied and debated.  I had pondered it several times in previous years, this was the first time for both Alan’s.

Reaching Death Valley, we stopped at Furnace Creek. There, the official thermometer at the visitor center read an even 100°.  Alan Patera had an order of WESTERN PLACES books to drop off.

I also wanted to meet with Death Valley National Park ranger, Dave Brenner, an acquaintance of mine; with whom in the past I’ve had the enjoyable experience of riding along with him on his patrol rounds. The Park Service was having service awards and knew he’d be around somewhere. I also wanted to meet Mark H., who was an employee of the park also; Mark being quite prolific on the Internet Death Valley bulletin boards under the handle "Tumbleweed." I found both at the same time and we stood outside the visitor center in the warm afternoon.  I spent over a half hour talking with Dave about the recent controversy over the "Death Valley Bunk Trunk," in which an individual claimed to have found a trunk left behind by the Jayhawker part on their ill fated trek of 1849.  That made nationwide attention and was ultimately proven to be a hoax.

While we were talking, Alan Hensher came out of the visitor center with a bag full of books, among them PROCEEDINGS FOURTH DEATH VALLEY CONFERENCE ON HISTORY AND PREHISTORY - FEBRUARY 2-5, 1995; PROCEEDINGS FIFTH DEATH VALLEY CONFERENCE ON HISTORY AND PREHISTORY - MARCH 4-7, 1999. He made a gift of copies for me and Alan Patera.

While at Furnace Creek, we took the opportunity to top off our gas tanks at the Chevron station.  We paid a high price of $1.91 per gallon.

After visiting with Dave and Mark, the two Alan’s and I found a shady spot on the side of the road near the Furnace Creek Ranch and fixed ourselves a late lunch. Then it was off to our first ghost town to prowl, the Inyo Mine, located in Echo Canyon in the southern Funeral Range.  Also part of the Funeral Range mining boom in the early years of the 20th century was the ghost of Schwab, not far from the Inyo Mine.  Alan Patera and I had a year previous visited the camps on the eastern side of the range, which is chronicled on this website in my series of videos dealing with Keane Spring, Chloride City, the Capricorn Mine and the townsites of Lee, California and Lee, Nevada; with Lee Annex in between.

Echo Canyon winds its way easily up into the Funeral Range. It’s easily passable by any truck based 4x4. On our trip, a two-wheel-drive vehicle could have made it, except for one spot at the mouth of the canyon where the road dropped into a hole with a couple of bedrock boulders in it. Just enough to cause the chassis to flex, lifting up each tire off the ground as our vehicles passed by it. Along the way is the Eye of the Needle, a triangular hole in a large thumb of rock projecting up from the canyon floor. Continuing up the canyon we started driving through swarms of wasps or hornets that flew with their abdomens downward as if they were flying straight up. They came in through my open windows, making driving and swatting at the wasps an interesting exercise in dexterity. Just below the Inyo Mine complex the canyon splits into two forks. Our road took us up to the Inyo Mine, where there is a substantial group of photogenic ruins.

The Inyo Mine, as well as most mining activity in this section of Death Valley, was an outgrowth of the fabulous southern Nevada mining phenomena initiated by Tonopah in 1900, Goldfield in 1902 and Rhyolite in 1904.  With activity further north at Keane Wonder, prospectors eventually made their way into Echo Canyon by early 1905.  In early March, two prolific prospecting partners, Chet Leavitt and Moroni Hicks, staked off 20 claims that became the Inyo Gold Mine.  By October, the Echo Mining District was formed, which later merged with the Lee district to the northeast (see also my video taken at Lee elsewhere on this site).  By December, the Inyo Gold Mining Company was formed.  In 1906, the towns associated with Lee on the other side of the range created so much energy that Echo Canyon also flourished, including the Inyo Mine.  A substantial camp formed below the mine, which included a boarding house, store, and other accommodations for its employees.  The financial panic of 1907 put a damper on the mining boom.  The Inyo sputtered off and on with development and production, but that was far better than other nearby towns and mines.  Though quiet and idle during much of the 1910s and first half of the 1920s, by the Depression years work began again with enough vigor to keep a small population at the camp until it was shut down for good in 1941.

The two Alan’s and I explored and photographed the Inyo Mine complex.  Then we set up our camps.  Note, currently, camping is prohibited at the Inyo Mine.  At the time of our visit, we were ignorant of any regulations of camping at the site, if indeed there was any prohibition, and our written literature stated that camping was prohibited only along the first four miles of the road.
 
Since we made the Inyo Mine at a relatively early hour with plenty of sunlight left in the afternoon, we explored the site. The temperature was far more moderate than down in the valley floor, my thermometer reading only 82° and a pleasant breeze coming up the canyon.  Alan Patera hiked up to the top of the canyon above the mine camp to investigate the main mine complex and structures up there. Alan Hensher, dressed only in shorts, T-shirt and sandals, stayed with me down at the mining camp. We found numerous buildings in various stages of decay and collapse, plus machinery.  It was our understanding that one of the larger structures still standing at the mine, one with a cupola on it, had just collapsed in the months previous to our visit.

Alan and Alan teamed up to set up Alan’s tent (Alan Hensher’s), I set about setting up my camp in the back of my truck.  Our camp was along the road at the edge of the Inyo Mine camp.  Alan Patera set up his camp in his Explorer, parked a few dozen yards further up the road.  I prepared my meal on the tailgate while the two Alan’s talked history.  While doing so, I enjoyed a couple of cold cans of beer.

Clouds built up in the west as the sun was setting, but then suddenly parted and the most wonderful glow of the last rays of sunlight created some of the most exciting coloring I’ve laid my eyes on. I was in the middle of eating my dinner when this light show suddenly descended upon us, I was compelled to grab my video and digital cameras to record it.

As darkness descended upon our camp, a horrible swarm of gnats then later moths descended with the night. Liberal amounts of Cutters repellent helped, but the gnats were still irritating. We found that lighting my Coleman lantern and Alan Hensher’s florescent lantern and placing it away from us attracted the gnats to it and they left us alone to enjoy conversation about everything from our location to the history of lynching in California.

At 9:30 PM, I took a sponge bath and crawled into the back of my truck to read before turning out the light at 10:45 PM and going to sleep at the Inyo Mine Camp, Echo Canyon, Funeral Range, Death Valley National Park.


t2000_pt1.jpg

 

 

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Yes, the dreaded squeal ... :Various_Artists-blowup: Irritating if you keep focusing on it. I'm sure you've figured out by now why all my video cameras had short lives and died painful deaths ... :tard:

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Day 2 - May 2, 2000

Map_t2000_patera_Part-2.jpg

The second video in the series covers our travels on May 2, 2000.  The video is 37:39 long.  The video link to Part II is at:

t2000_patera_pt-2.wmv

At the end of the video there is a photo slide show of my favorite images taken during the day, along with a little mood music.

To maintain context in the video and give details not seen in it, a narrative is given below. 

I arose early at our Inyo Mine camp and long before the two Alan’s. I busied myself with coffee, a bath and cleaning up camp, while they snored away in their respective abodes nearby. Breakfast consisted of sausage, hash browns and eggs.  It was a cool and clear morning, a sweatshirt felt good.

The others were up by 7:00 A.M., each setting about fixing their morning meals of instant oatmeal, and organizing their camps in preparation to go explore the real Schwab ghost town, located in the next canyon north of the Inyo Mine. We were off and running at 8:26 AM.
 
The road that runs through Schwab is blocked off to vehicular traffic, requiring us to walk about a half mile. It was a leisurely walk downhill along the wash to the site of Schwab (spelled “Schwaub” on the topographic maps). Alan Patera and I were dressed for the part, but Alan Hensher, being the adventurer that he is, made the trip in shorts and sandals; he had brought no other shoes along with him.

The town of Schwab was named in honor of Charles M. Schwab, the eastern steel magnate, who was heavily invested in mines at Rhyolite and elsewhere.  Papers were filed for the Schwab townsite late in 1906, the papers started picking up on activities there by January, 1907.

Inyo Register, January 10, 1907 
Schwab, a New Inyo Town.”
  The Lee and Echo canyon districts in Inyo county, California, 32 miles south of Rhyolite, are to have a town in honor of Charles M. Schwab, of Montgomery-Shoshone fame and other matters of lesser industrial importance.  The new town has been named Schwab.
   The Schwab Townsite company has been incorporated under the laws of South Dakota, with a capital stock of $30,000 fully paid in.
  The location is in the upper end of Echo canyon, and is said to combine many desirable features for a townsite.
  The promoters have shipped in a stock of general merchandise, have made provisions for a restaurant, lodging houses and other accommodations.  A stage line is to be run from Roswell [note: Rose Well], and application is to be made at once for the establishment of a postoffice.
  The management states that already over 50 lots have been sold, and it is confidently expected there will be a grand rush to obtain locations in the town of Schwab just as soon as it is known that the new Lee metropolis has been founded.
  The growing importance of the Lee and Echo districts, the rapidity with which excellent ore bodies are being opened up and the general interest now centering in this part of the country, is conceded a sufficient warrant for establishing a town.  Hitherto the mining people have labored under a considerable inconvenience in not being able to procure accommodations in the district, but the townsite promoters have shipped in their stuff and will soon have the city of Schwab firmly established.  Mr. Black is now on the ground exercising personal supervision in the matter of buildings and other arrangements
. -- Bullfrog Miner

Activity increased at Schwab through the first half of 1907.  A small flow of water was developed to supply the camp.  An automobile stage started up to run between the camp and Rhyolite three times weekly.  In March, the Echo Mining District was formed during a meeting of the Death Valley Miners’ Union at nearby Lee.  A deputy sheriff for Inyo County was appointed and stationed at Schwab.

schwab-ad.jpg

Schwab’s historic fame comes from its oversight by three women, who kept the male citizens behaving at their best by keeping the town dry, morally clean and civil.  In early March of 1907, the townsite company officers included Miss Gertrude Fessler, Mrs. Helen Black and Mrs. F.H. Dunn.  However, Colonel F.H. Dunn, husband of Mrs. Dunn, apparently decided that a little liquor might keep the men happy, and applied for a liquor license from Inyo County.

However, by summer, things started going downhill fast in Schwab.  The post office closed August 15th.  Even though plans were in place for a central business district and stores to be built, there is no evidence one ever was.  The last evidence of Schwab’s dying breath was an ad in the Rhyolite newspapers that the Kimball Brothers stage was still visiting Schwab in August.  But apparently they didn’t visit much longer, as regional newspapers went silent about Schwab afterward.

Many people visit the nearby Inyo Mine, mistaking that it is Schwab.  Schwab probably doesn’t get too many visitors these days.  Almost all publications I’ve read say that the site of Schwab is completely erased from the earth, but the two Alan’s and I found lots of little interesting items that lay scattered about the site, situated at the confluence of two canyons in a wide, gravelly wash. As we walked down from our trucks, we began to find at first prospect scratchings, then cans; then as we hit the site of Schwab scattered lumber debris.

At the first building site, located on the wash floor, we found two wooden crosses indicating graves. This surprised us, since none of us had read anything in the history books or period press about deaths or burials in Schwab. One cross read: "Death Valley Victim - 1907," but the condition of the wood and lettering indicated that this cross was planted in recent years. All of us speculated that some visitor with whimsy created this “cemetery” at Schwab.

Alan Hensher, due to his footwear, elected to stick to the wash bottom in the immediate vicinity of the crosses.  Alan Patera and I ventured further abroad.  As we fanned out around the first building site we came to, we found what appeared to be the main townsite located upon a bench on the northern side of the canyon. A wood lined cellar, remains of bottles, broken crockery, cans, square stone footings, stone walls dropping off the bench into the wash, stone outlines of tent sites and what likely was the main street of Schwab all lay along this bench.  It was the best location to create a town – it was up above and out of harm’s way from all the desert cloudbursts that visited this location throughout the 20th century, and left intact Schwab’s center for the pleasure of Alan and I.  Schwab was just as short lived as its contemporary, Echo; which Alan Patera and I had visited a year previous; but there was more to see at Schwab than was found at Echo’s mountaintop perch.

All too soon, Alan and I returned to where Alan Hensher was milling about, looking rather dour. Alan Hensher dryly quipped that the population of Schwab was "in the millions" – millions of ants. He had a bad time of it as he gingerly stepped in bare, sandaled feet through the streets and lots of Schwab - everywhere he stepped he encountered ant holes with countless ants crawling up his legs, spiny sage that scratched his legs and feet, and the ever present cholla cactus, which zeroed in on his toes.  With that, we all walked back uphill to our vehicles, happy that we found Schwab.

Our two 4x4 caravan proceeded down Echo Canyon to the Death Valley floor. Our trip itinerary was not well defined and Alan Patera and I spoke over the radios several ideas of destinations as we traveled down the twisting canyon. Thoughts of camping in higher thus cooler locations were discussed. Alan Patera, being from Oregon and thus still not acclimated to warmer temperatures that we were having, was getting a pretty intense headache from the heat. It was pleasant at Schwab due to its higher elevation, but at Furnace Creek we were hitting 100º. Alan was having thoughts about camping at Chloride Cliff in the Funerals, or Mahogany Flats in the Panamint Range. As I turned on my air conditioner near the valley floor, the thought occurred to me to head for the northernmost part of Death Valley, where elevations gradually climb up and over 6,000 feet in the Gold Point, Nevada region; with many possible camping locations in forested highlands. That location would also be a good place to complete our trip, as it is a relatively short distance to my secondary home located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada at Big Pine.  Neither Alan had ever visited the Tule Canyon, Gold Mountain and Gold Point vicinity and it appealed to them.  After stopping for gas, ice and a soda at Furnace Creek, we head north along the length of Death Valley.

It was my practice to buy each year an annual pass to Death Valley National Park.  The previous day at Furnace Creek I attempted to purchase one, but the visitor center was out.  By the time we were nearly ready to leave the park for good, I got caught at a seldom staffed entry station just below Scotty’s Castle and paid the $20 fee for the annual pass, leaving me with little cash.
 
Wildflowers were blooming profusely as we climbed in elevation approaching the north end of the valley. We stopped at the site of Sand Spring, once a gas station and store to service travelers to the short lived 1920s mining rush at nearby Skookum.  After poking about Sand Spring, we attempted to drive  east on a road leading up Oriental Wash to our to gain a lateral road heading to the lower end of Tule Canyon (a shortcut over continuing north on the Death Valley-Big Pine road), but found that road closed.  Checking our atlases, we could see our location on the map, seeing several roads that coalesced in Oriental Wash and continued northeast up it.  I knew that the road up Oriental Wash was a maintained road on the Nevada side of the border, but didn’t realize at the time that it now connected with the open road within California and the park a bit south of our point.  So we returned to the main road and turned northbound, still discussing over the radio possibilities of where to explore and camp.  We could still access Stateline or other locations via the lower end of historic Tule Canyon, which I knew both Alan’s would enjoy seeing.

Where the main road from Death Valley to Big Pine makes a sharp turn westerly to climb the Last Chance Range, we hit whimsical Crankshaft Crossing.  Death Valley has several artsy signage that have been created and has stuck over the decades, this one is usually festooned with an engine block or two, plus numerous crankshafts.  From there, we took a two-track road easterly, crossing several major washes along the way.  Passing a sign pointing east, stating to a westbound traveler that one was entering Death Valley National Park, I knew we instead had had left it and had entered Nevada.  Immediately the road improved, as the road up Tule Canyon is maintained annually by Esmeralda County.

The road soon enters Tule Canyon, a shallow canyon flowing in a semi-circular fashion southward off of the nearby forested hulk of Magruder Mountain.  As soon as we entered the mouth of the canyon, signs of mining are immediately found.  Placer mining has taken place in Tule Canyon for well over a century.  When the first Caucasian settlers showed up in the late1860s, there were signs others were poking about for the abundant gold found within the gravelly wash of the canyon.  Since this region was part of Mexico prior to 1850, citizens of that nation found gold and exploited it starting around the late 1840s.

A few miles up lower Tule Canyon is the found the ruins of the townsite of Roosevelt City.  The town popped up during the wild mining rush in 1905, named for then president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.  It was the most promising of the three towns that sprang up simultaneously – Fairbanks, named for Roosevelt’s vice-president; and Summerville, simply named for its promoter.  All three were soon eclipsed by Tule City, which ended up with a post office.  All of the several towns formed in Tule Canyon between the 1870s and 1910 died off with the decline of mining after the financial Panic of 1907.  But placer mining has taken place in Tule Canyon ever since, the last big effort wrapped up only a couple years previous to the date of this trip.

I had prowled Tule Canyon several times previous to this visit.  Entering Roosevelt City, I noted that the sole remaining standing cabin appeared to be in less sturdy shape as I had found on my last visit.  Nearby, within a pipe corral, an Aero Motor windmill – which in previous years had pumped up a stream of cold water into a tank, watering abundant vegetation and allowing wildlife a good, cold drink – had been damaged by vandals; the water tank dry and vegetation around it dead.  More than three years previous to this trip, I had brought my then brand new Chevrolet S-10 4x4 pickup to Roosevelt, exited my truck to hear the unmistakable sound of hissing air, and realized that I got my first flat tire on that truck there.  I didn’t want to repeat that again.  However, this time my truck was shod with heavy duty all terrain tires.  The two Alan’s and I explored Roosevelt City and into some country west of the townsite, then took off for someplace, but we were not yet exactly sure where.

We continued a bit further up Tule Canyon.  As we traveled, we were still discussing camping possibilities.  I talked Alan and Alan into visiting nearby Gold Point.  At the point where a large scale placering effort had wrapped up a couple years previous, a detour road turned up out of the canyon so we could exit into the broad plain of Lida Flat and head east to Gold Point; where I could introduce the two Alans to Herb Robbins, if he was home.  Herb owns several buildings in town, including a sort of bed & breakfast, as well as serving as the overall the town booster.

At Gold Point, we found Herb and a couple other guys were extending the old saloon building.  The website ghosttowns.com was planning on holding their annual rally at Gold Point, so Herb decided to enlarge the building to entertain and feed a large group of people.  Herb asked me to take the two Alans on a tour of the town’s buildings. After, we returned to the saloon and all had a shot of cinnamon schnapps with a beer chaser. The schnapps was interesting in that it had gold flecks in the bottom of the bottle.  Then Alan and Alan and I head off to Stateline, located six miles away to the south over good dirt roads.

We set up a nice camp with a view at Stateline. It’s elevation is 6,000 feet, so I knew that it would afford a nice cool setting.  To the west, toward the lowering sun the view takes in the northernmost section of Death Valley, the Last Chance Range, the Inyo Range and all the way to the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, just west of my secondary home at Big Pine.  To the south and east is the piñon forested hulk of Gold Mountain.  Alan Patera parked his Explorer by the large A-frame over the glory hole of the Stateline Mine, I parked over to the west and out of sight on a level road, Alan Hensher set up his tent on a rise above me. We enjoyed the late afternoon colors and the sunset, which created an ever-changing Technicolor landscape.

While the two Alan’s busied themselves setting up camp over at the big, wooden A-frame and out of sight, I stripped and took a sponge bath.  Letting the late afternoon sun and breeze dry me off au natural, I enjoyed a cold beer.  Then I set up my kitchen on the tailgate.

My dinner for the night consisted of canned beef stew with smoky links cut up in it; some clam chowder, which I shared with the others; and an instant mashed potato cup. After dinner was spent with wine and conversation well after dark. Afterward, I crawled into the back of my truck to read until turning off the lights late.

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Day 3 - May 3, 2000

This video covers our travels on May 3, 2000.  The video is 43:05 long.  The video link to Part III is at:

t2000_patera_pt-3.wmv

At the end of the video there is a photo slide show of my favorite images taken during the day, along with a little mood music.

To maintain context in the video and give details not seen in it, a narrative is given below. 

t2000_patera_pt-3_map1.jpg

t2000_map01.jpg

I was awake by 6:00 AM, in time to chronicle the sunrise in photo and video, then set about making coffee. While packing up and making breakfast, the other two Alans got up and began their day an hour after I arose. As they started making their own morning beverages, we discussed what life might have been like to Stateline’s residents.  Comic relief came as Alan Hensher got into a fight with his tent upon trying to fold it up and into its bag, the tent won. It ended up in a tangle in the back of Alan Patera’s Explorer.

After our camps were cleaned up, we head on down into the main townsite of Stateline and its myriad of stone ruins. The morning weather was warm for 6,000 feet, it was sunny and very pleasant. There is one standing wooden cabin, which Herb Robbins keeps an eye on and in good repair.  On this day, I found that it had a broken window on a secondary door, so I spent a few minutes taping it back together with duct tape.

After we toured Stateline, we head up to nearby Oriental. Joshua trees were in bloom along the way. Oriental sits higher than Stateline, up on the slopes of Gold Mountain, and sits in a scenic piñon forest with beautiful views northeast into the White Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Here we explored the wood and stone ruins of Old Camp, then cut out to explore the mountaintop camp of Tokop.

We drove to the top of the mountain at a communications site, where a 360º view spread out before us. With such a wonderful view, it was easy to overlook Tokop’s ruins hidden just below us - wood and stone, collapsed cabins and mine adits.

After touring Tokop, we head back to Gold Point to enjoy Herb Robbins’ company. Herb showed us H.E.R.B., a large, old ‘40s International Harvester tow truck. H.E.R.B. stood for "Hornsilver Extraction & Recovery Buggy." Herb uses it to lower himself into Gold Points larger mine shafts, which he loves to explore.

Alan Patera and Herb spent much of the time going through old issues of the Hornsilver Herald that is in Herb’s collection, the two of them developing plans to create and future issue of WESTERN PLACES on Gold Point and vicinity (Note: In time, Alan Patera published two WESTERN PLACES books, one centering on Gold Mountain and the other on Gold Point). I enjoyed Herb’s authentic player piano, which also has several band instruments built in, now playing its tunes with the aid of a laptop computer.

Afterward, we went out to the garage, where Herb fired up his old Fairbanks-Morse single cylinder gas engine.  Though having no exhaust pipe nor muffler of any kind, the huge old one-lunger is very quiet considering that the compression opened exhaust poppet vents directly to atmosphere. Running at a top speed of about 450 RPM, huge flywheels spin without protection, while Herb runs his and arms all around while adjusting the carburetor and squirting gasoline from a small oil can to keep it running.

All too soon it was time for us to leave. The trip was now basically over. Alan Patera was going to make his way north toward home in Oregon, Alan Hensher needed to pick up his truck at my home in Ridgecrest. But first we were all going to stop by my home in Big Pine to shower.  We left Herb Robbin’s home in Gold Point at 2:00 o’clock sharp.

We stopped by the ghost town of Palmetto on the way, not far west of Gold Point.  I found that somebody had spray painted obnoxious graffiti on the historical marker sign. We also stopped by the ghost of White Mountain City in Deep Springs Valley.  My wish was to show both Alan’s the arrastra and furnace (see my video on White Mountain City and the arrastra elsewhere on this site), but due to pressure due to time constraints I wasn’t able to locate it quickly, so we continued on to my secondary home in Big Pine; leaving White Mountain City at 3:20 PM.

After we all had taken our turn showering at my home in Big Pine, it was time to part ways. Alan Patera head north to camp at Lundy Lake for the night, Alan Hensher and myself head south to Ridgecrest.  That Alan had left his truck at my home there three days previously.  We all parted company left my home at Big Pine at 5:30 PM.  A stop for dinner at my favorite Lone Pine eatery on the way home, Alan Hensher and I arrived at my home in Ridgecrest at 8:25 PM.  The video ends with my arrival in my driveway and pulling into my garage.

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