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Short little video of an explore I made a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to post this for some time but was overcome by a lot of RL events with work & stuff. But I am starting a series of videos on the Oregon Trail as it came through Boise, and one of those videos includes the tiny town of Mayfield, Idaho. I read about it in a newspaper and saw that there is going to be a concerted effort to develop the area around the old town site and figured I should collect some images while I could. I found a really cool region close to my home that I knew nothing about, so I may go out there again for more videos.
Anyhow, here's a link for the interested and I'll try to pick up the pace and do more than one video a month!
I heard about Elberton from a couple of townfolk in the nearby small town of Garfield, WA. It wasn't until this past summer that I finally got a chance to explore and find the once thriving town, now not so much. Only a handful of structures remain from what once was a 200 acre, 500 person town in a draw along the Oregon-Washington Railroad (no longer used). The town was evidently started by a man named C.D. Wilbur and named after his son Elbert. Due to several catastrophic events (a fire and the great depression to follow), the town began a rapid decline and is now down to about 15 full-time residents. Whitman County bought the townsite and made a park there with hiking trail and other paths through the ruins in 1970. The most prominant reminders of what once was are the in-tact Church (United Brethren, I believe) and the perennial gardens from homesteads past that continue to grow in the Spring. Below are a few pictures of what you see there now.
I am searching for some cool abandoned places! I leave Las Vegas on September 5th so wanting to visit some old abandoned buildings, towns, vehicles, any military stuff, etc. I drive a Jeep that is somewhat built so looking for something way far out untouched by vandals and scum of the earth. I've found a few places listed and unlisted through aerial views but want some new stuff to explore. Thank you in advance for any information.
By David A. Wright
Recently, I’ve been going through my old VHS video tapes and digitizing them to DVDs. These tapes contain my travels and explorations between 1995 and 2009. I thought I’d start releasing some video shorts of my early travels on this forum.
The back story for this particular video is as follows. On March 30, 1996, I made a short hike of about a mile and a third up the lower third of Surprise Canyon, on the western slopes of the Panamint Range, Inyo County, California. This canyon is just outside of Death Valley National Park. This canyon has running water running year round through the stretch shown, fed by substantial Limekiln Springs, and the canyon is a water wonderland. For those not familiar with the area, refer to the two maps. The first one shows the canyon in relation to the region, the other a close up of the canyon and the ghost town of Panamint City. The blue line in the close up image shows the route that was taken.
I made the trip with author/publisher Alan Patera, of Oregon. I had been this way several times previous, but this was Alan’s first time. Alan publishes the WESTERN PLACES series of monograph publications, centering on the history of locations now ghost towns. He and I have collaborated on several published historical writings over the years, and have traveled to and have camped in many historical locations.
On this hike, we drove up and parked at what is shown on the topo maps as Chris Wicht Camp. Chris Wicht was a colorful character, businessman and prospector who lived in the region in the late 19th century and early 20th century; who was a barkeep at Ballarat, now a ghost town a few miles away on the Panamint Valley floor. He is buried in the nearby community of Trona. At the time of the hike, Chris Wicht Camp was inhabited by father and son George and Rocky N.; George has since died and Rocky has since been operating the seasonal general store down at Ballarat. Alan and I then hiked upstream, through an increasing flow of water, topping out at the top of what is locally known as the falls, about a third of a mile below Limekiln Spring. At that point, there are found in the copious overgrowth of willows mining equipment and a vehicle or two. Above this point, the road the remaining way to Panamint City has been left alone by the elements and is still in drivable shape but now out of bounds. Since Alan and I weren’t prepared and it was too late in the day to continue up to Panamint City, we returned back to my vehicle.
Believe it or not, this byway used to be a maintained road, accessing historic Panamint City, one of the region’s early mining booms, founded in 1873. The remains of Panamint City are high up the canyon, at an elevation of about 6,350 feet. Though Panamint as a town was a ghost town by the 20th century, a few hardy souls have often lived in one or other of the structures that stood up there thereafter. There was always some mining activity going on up there, thus Inyo County kept the road maintained. Severe flashfloods of 1984 totally destroyed the road in the lower canyon. Inyo County didn’t have the funds, nor did the few who worked their prospects and mines and who lived in one of the few shacks provide the tax base to undertake such a major rebuild.
The route above the high point that Alan and I reached is still in very good shape and could be taken by most vehicles. The route that we walked was the goal for hard core off road enthusiasts with extremely modified rigs and big winches to about the year 2000, when a large environmentalist group sued the U.S. government and the road has been closed to vehicles since. Protests and lawsuits were made by land owners and those who had patented claims at Panamint City, without success.
At the time Alan and I walked the road, there were still occasional groups who made it up this canyon with their vehicles, as the closure was still about four years in the future. There were owners of patented mining claims who drove as far as they could then hiked in to do their annual assessment work. Death Valley had changed from National Monument to National Park status the year previous.
Alan and I didn’t make it to Panamint City that day, which is several miles further on up the canyon. But we did make a hike up there the following year and camped overnight, along with two other people, which is another video I’ll add in time.
In the days I took this video, I was using a Sony Hi-8 video camera. In those days, most of my video editing was simply dubbing video off the camera and onto the VHS tape in the VCR, using the pause button on the VCR to edit out unwanted video. This particular tape was edited using a complex, cumbersome, old style video editing system, which utilized the camera, a monitor, a VCR and a box that contained an archaic computer. All editing took place by archaic and hard to use on screen menus. That is why the video begins with some graphics and text indicating some of the details of the trip.
This video segment is just over 10:38 long. Put on your waders and enjoy!
NOTE: There is a blank section midway that is about five seconds long and doesn’t show anything. Don’t worry, the video will come back and continue.
Surprise_1996.xmp [Note: This file is a corresponding file to the video file above and will not do anything of its own if clicked.]
UPDATE: A retry of the original video, plus the same video in two other formats attempted to see if I can get any to work. This will also help me to determine what video file format works best on this board.
By David A. Wright
Northern Nevada, Southwestern Idaho
(and a Blip of Southeastern Oregon Thrown in for Good Measure)
June 19 - 28, 2001
This is the trip that I consider to be my favorite trip I have ever undertaken. It had been in the planning stages since the previous December. Originally, quite a number of people were invited and had semi-committed themselves to come along. Over time, however, eventually the number of people whose semi-commitments became firm commitments to this trip narrowed to four. And I was one of them.
Between June 19 and 27, 2001, I undertook a trip throughout northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho in search of ghost towns, adventure and to enjoy the wide open spaces that the Great Basin is known for. Beside myself, there was Alan Patera, of Oregon; Graham, of the California Bay Area; and Gil, of southern California. Since we were coming from different points on the map, we elected Midas, Nevada - located in the far western side of Elko County northeast of Winnemucca, as a meeting point. Gil was originally going to drive to my primary home, then at Ridgecrest, California, and ride with me. However, at the last minute, he changed his mind and drove his car the entire trip. Graham and I chose to meet at Hawthorne, Nevada or at Mono Lake, depending on the circumstances of our first morning travels. Alan was to meet Graham and I in the evening at Midas on our first day out. Gil planned to meet us at noon the following day at Midas.
My 4x4 rig at the time was my 1996 Chevrolet S-10. It was bone stock, with standard suspension. It was powered by the 4.3 liter V6 with the higher power option; a 5-speed manual transmission; standard, lever activated 4x4 transfer case. The interior sported the LS option package, which included upgraded interior materials; but the truck still had manual crank windows, no tilt steering wheel; and had an aftermarket cruise control installed. Other options were bucket seats and console. The truck had nearly 100,000 miles on it when we started. It turned over the century mark during this trip, on a dirt road in the wide open spaces of north-central Elko County.
Graham drove a 1990 Chevrolet ¾-ton 4x4 pickup with a low profile, pop-up camper. The truck is scarcely optioned, running a 350 cubic inch V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. Graham has equipped the truck over the years for expedition and is well equipped to tackle everything. However, his truck became problematic over the course of the trip.
Alan Patera drove his bone stock 1997 Ford Explorer. It's the most stripped Explorer I've seen, virtually no options. It's well used off road and the lack of fluff has suited this rig well.
Gill tagged along in his 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix. He slept in it, ate in it and drove it over miles of dirt roads. The car would have escaped unscathed, if not for his hitting a deer on the dirt road between Tuscaurora and Midas after he split from our group on the last day we all were together. He continued to drive his wrecked car for a couple more days, until he stopped to visit friends in Reno.
My camera at the time was one of the original Sony Mavica digital cameras, with a resolution of 640x480. For storage of photos, it used standard floppy disks. The Mavica was in its dying stages at the time, I had owned it about three years. It started acting up on the second day of the trip; completely quit, inexplicably began working again, then died completely on the last day of this adventure. I took a 35mm Pentax camera along as a backup, but had taken along a roll of old film. None of the photos I took with the Pentax came out, I had shot one roll. When processing the many disks of digital photos, I found that about ten or eleven disks had been corrupted by issues with the camera, so that I was not able to extract the images from the disks, loosing around 200 images. Many of the lost images were of ghost towns, such as in the case of National, Nevada; so that I have no images whatsoever of that location, others few.
My written documentation for each day of the trip will be in a rather paraphrased format, but includes all travel and most experiences. You can gather the rest of the trip from the video and photos. I will break the six plus hours of edited video taken and cut down to videos for each single day, along with a photo slide show at the end. This thread will contain all content from this trip from start to end.
In a break from my past custom when presenting video on this forum, and due to the volume and number of ghost towns visited, I will not write up a history for the ghost towns or historic places visited. That is far too time consuming and labor intensive. There are plenty of written and web resources if one wishes to pursue their quest for knowledge of these sites.
Below, a list of historic locations we visited – in the order that we visited them:
1. Bodie & Benton Railway, California.
2. Stillwater, Nevada.
3. White Cloud City (Coppereid), Nevada.
4. Unionville, Nevada.
5. Midas, Nevada.
6. Spring City, Nevada.
7. Paradise Valley, Nevada.
8. Buckskin, Nevada.
9. National, Nevada.
10. Delamar, Idaho.
11. Silver City, Idaho.
12. Rio Tinto, Nevada.
13. Pattsville, Nevada.
14. Aura, Nevada.
15. Cornucopia, Nevada.
16. Edgemont, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
17. White Rock, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
18. Tuscaurora, Nevada.
19. Dinner Station, Nevada.
20. Metropolis, Nevada.
21. Charleston, Nevada.
22. Jarbidge, Nevada.
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