ExploreDesert - Into the Mojave - Baker Area

1MK

ExploreDesert
Care to share the story of the shanty bars in the desert and where to find them?
Never looked to see what history, if any, is tied to the little desert bars. I believe they are either memorials or put up at random by locals for a place to go hang out.

As far as location, I never give stuff away, but there's plenty of information within the post to be able to figure out where it is.
 

highwest

Active member
Never looked to see what history, if any, is tied to the little desert bars. I believe they are either memorials or put up at random by locals for a place to go hang out.

As far as location, I never give stuff away, but there's plenty of information within the post to be able to figure out where it is.
Ah, so these aren’t bars where people are selling goods/services, just meet up spots. I assumed these were pseudo-legitimate businesses that should we should be visiting/supporting.

Totally agree with not sharing wilderness locations.

Great report!
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Ah, so these aren’t bars where people are selling goods/services, just meet up spots. I assumed these were pseudo-legitimate businesses that should we should be visiting/supporting.

Totally agree with not sharing wilderness locations.

Great report!
UPDATE: there is no liquor or anything served except the one near Parker, AZ.

I believe those desert bars are legitimate with liquor license and all. They do good business with all the side by sides passing through in season. Even 4Runners are welcomed. I drive one too.


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1MK

ExploreDesert
I believe those desert bars are legitimate with liquor license and all. They do good business with all the side by sides passing through in season. Even 4Runners are welcomed. I drive one too.


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Negative. There's no license as there isn't any alcohol on site. There's no sales or people working. It's really just a spot people have built as a hang out.

The only true "desert bar" that I know of is in Parker, AZ.
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Negative. There's no license as there isn't any alcohol on site. There's no sales or people working. It's really just a spot people have built as a hang out.

The only true "desert bar" that I know of is in Parker, AZ.
That’s the one I was thinking of and thought they all followed suit. I’ve never been to anyone of them. Just knew about the Desert Bar from the Chuck Wells book.


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1MK

ExploreDesert
@1MK What do you use for your mapping/route finding system?

Enjoying your write-ups, excellent job!
Basically I use Google My Maps, Google Maps & Caltopo.com.

For routes and waypoints, I use Google My Maps. I don't use or import any tracks or waypoints from other sources. I create all my own.

Caltopo is great for different topographic maps. I use this for research and discovery.

Then, the cool part about using Google My Maps is you can view it in Google Maps which offers 3D support. So you can view your route and waypoints to see what kind of elevation or features you may encounter.

Every trip I have done I have created from scratch. Routes, things to see, logistics, timing, camp spots.

Been thinking about offering my maps/trips for a fee and/or doing a write up on how I create them.

mymaps.JPG
 

1MK

ExploreDesert
The next stop was something I was looking forward to. My inner mining history nerd meter was absolutely pegged. The Amargosa/Salt Spring mine - the oldest Anglo gold mine in Southern California. There's a walking trail and signs explaining the surroundings along the way. I copied what each of the informative boards said, so there's quite a bit of text but well worth the read if you're into history.

Pretty cool standing in and looking around an area where so much had happened so long ago. Wild to think about how ambitious and hardy people were back in the day, looking for a better future. Literally heading into the unknown at the time, relying on others as a guide. Wagons that had a every possession that a family owned being towed by domesticated animals, all while having to be self sufficient in every aspect.

How exciting and terrifying it must have been...

Following the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California, Jefferson Hunt led a wagon trail from Deseret (present day Salt Lake City) in search of a better future. Several members of the wagon train, including the Harry Wade family and the Manley party, decided to try an unproved "short cut" which led them to Death Valley. Seven of the Mormon wagons continued with Hunt along the Old Spanish Trail/Mormon Road. While camping at Salt Creek on December 1, 1849, Hunt's party discover gold. This is the oldest Anglo gold mine in Southern California.

Mining started in 1850 and continued off and on for decades. in 1860 there were three ore crushers (arrastres) operating and the ore yielded $2500.00 per ton.


Stamp mills were used to crush ore to extract precious metals, such as gold and silver. The stamp mill in front of you was originally built in the 1880's. This drawing shows how the building once looked with a portion of the wall "cut away" to show the stamps.





There were several reports of two "massacres" at the Amargosa Salt Spring Mine: In October 1864 three miners named Cook, Plate and Gordon were reportedly attacked by a roving band of Chemehuevis. Cook was killed and the mill was burned. The other two miners escaped into the desert and committed suicide some 20 miles away. The attack was reported in the Los Angeles Times on 29 October. The Rousseau Party came though in December 1864 and noted four houses and the burned mill.

A new company, with a George Rose as superintendent took over the mine in late 1864. There are somewhat confused reports of another attack that happened in either 1864 or 1866. Eight miners were working at the claims and noted a Paiute band camped at nearby Sheep Creep Springs. One of the miners made his way to Marl Springs, 45 miles to the south near the present Kelso, to summon help from the Military. The military sent a relief party which arrived too late. The seven miners, not realizing that help was on the way, tried to make a pre-dawn escape, scattering as they fled. They were easily spotted by lookouts and all seven were slain.






In 1846 Brigam Young and his Mormon followers settled in the Great Sale Lake Valley which became part of the Utah Territory in 1847. The Mormon Battalion was formed in 1847 to help the US fight Mexico and, at the end of the war, returned to Salt Lake via the Old Spanish Trail. The Old Spanish Trail, traveled by Antonio Armijo in 1829, was improved from a horse and mule trail to a wagon road.

Jefferson Hunt, a Battalion leader, guided several groups of settlers down the "new" Mormon Road from Salt Lake to San Bernardino. Two momentous trips were in 1849 and 1851. In 1849 most of the wagons on the Hunt led wagon train decided to take a "short cut" and ended up in Death Valley. Seven wagons continued with Hunt and found gold in this canyon.

In 1851 a large wagon train of Mormons traveling to the Chino area, bought and settled on the San Bernardino Ranch and fort, establishing that city.






This may be the oldest standing structure in the Mojave Desert. The three room office/house was originally constructed between 1850-1852.












Super cool checking that out. Glad it's accessible and information is all there for those that want to explore and learn. Neat stuff.

Joined back up with the 127 then exited at the dry Silurian Lake. At least I was hoping it was dry. Given the recent weather and past experiences getting stuck (real bad I might add) in the muck on a playa, I was a tad apprehensive. I stopped, got out, walked on it, jumped on it, poked at it with a stick then decided to hit it with speed.

All was good. Solid and dry ground.









Worked myself into the Silurian Hills and the old railroad bed of the Tonopah and Tidewater.







A bit further up is the Annex Mine. A small cabin rests at the foothills.









 

1MK

ExploreDesert
Reconnected with the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad bed and wrapped around the Silurian Hills to the south. Bunch of mines liter the mountains and would really like to spend some more time in the future and explore them.













Frank Riggs, born in November of 1845 in Michigan, may have come to the Silver Lake area as early as 1880. The Alta Silver Mine established by Riggs was incredibly rich. Invariably he made all of his shipments by express, which, in 1903, cost him $135 per ton. In the early 1890s, before the construction of the California Eastern, he brought his ore to Daggett and then shipped it by express. In 1914, it was reported that no ore less than $500 per ton was shipped. Some of the shipments were an incredible $4,000 per ton. Riggs jealously guarded his rich mine with a heavy massive door that gave his mine the resemblance of a safe deposit vault. Riggs, with occasional employees, worked the mine fairly consistently until April, 1914.

In April, 1914, Sarah Riggs, Frank's wife, died. Shortly after, in June, 1914, William Polland of the Riggs Mining Company leased the mine and almost immediately shipped seven sacks of ore by express and seven tons via the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Before 1914, $100,000 worth of silver was said to have been taken from the Alta, and by 1920, another $100,000. In 1920, Christopher Baker of Silver Lake leased the mine, employing 4 men. The mine was reported idle in 1931, but in 1939 a 1,700 foot tunnel was driven to intersect the vein. Also at that time a 1,500-foot tram connected the upper workings with the ore bin near camp.

In 1943, three men were employed there. - Source Credit Desert Fever: An Overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area




The old mining cabin is still intact and in excellent condition. Probably the cleanest I've been to. You can tell it's been well respected and taken care of. If you come to this cabin, or any cabin, keep it clean! Don't tag/write on it, shoot at it, have risky unnecessary fires inside or outside and make sure it's out before you leave. Let's treat these places like our own home so we can all enjoy them for many years to come.

I battle a internal conflict every time I document my adventures, especially the cabins. Should post them and how much I should reveal about their location? Do I keep it a secret in the hopes that the least amount of people that know about them the better? Am I compromising it's future? I'm sure others that frequent it/upkeep it don't want the additional traffic and possible destruction. On the other hand, all the information is out there if you know how to find it. Not so much by documentation per se, but by the knowledge of how to use maps. So in reality, it's not mine to keep. Nor anyone's really, unless it was on private property, which nearly all of them are not. Also, there are a lot of good people out there and possibly they could contribute in some way to keep it alive.

So I don't know. Like I said, it's a struggle. I feel like I divulge just enough to give a general area, but not giving turn by turn directions or sharing GPS coordinates. Anyways, enough rambling.

Rigg's Cabin











A bit further up is Jake's Cabin.





 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
I’d say don’t divulge anything. Let others do their own research.


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ExploreDesert
I didn't really intend to stay here for the night, but upon arriving and getting a good vibe, some nice weather and a few cold snacks while exploring, I decided to stay.









Most of these cabins have a journal where those that pass through can write about there experience there, this one takes the cake. I read page after page about a father, grandpa, friend and person who loved the desert. Absolutely heart warming and really made the experience that much more special.

My Dad, Jake Samland took 8 years to rebuild this cabin and he added the front and back porches. Plus an outhouse so you can poop in it! He passed away on August 17th driving home from here - 11/16/13

11/16/13 - Out at Grandpaw's cabin =). It's a Saturday morning beautiful sky but very windy. Today we brought in this new log book (so please be kind and keep them here & share your experience, we enjoy reading them =)) and we put up your memory picture and your progress pics of the cabin. Grandpaw Jake has been working on this comfortable box for the last 8 yrs. There was no porch or roof, outhouse etc. There was 3 walls and he found himself a project =). It's nice to be out running around in the desert and find a nice lil treasure like this little cabin for you, your family and friends to enjoy =). So please take care of it as if it were yours. Progress on it if you're feeling froggy =). Grandpaw, I'm going treasure huntin' =). Write in ya next time! <3










There's a ore bin and what appeared to be adit behind the cabin so decided to take a hike and check those out. Turns out the adit was nothing more then a very shallow prospect, and the ore bin had cables leading from it all the way to the top of the mountain. Far too much of a mission for me to see where they ended up.








This cabin, as well as the Rigg's, was super clean inside with almost zero signs of rodents. That being said, I was fully set on actually spending the night inside. Had my bed all made up and everything. Made myself a nice dinner and enjoyed myself some more cold snacks around the fire. When it was time to call it a night, there one was - a little mouse cruising around. I "nope'd" it right out of there and slept in the 4runner. Ha.







 

1MK

ExploreDesert
Woke to another killer morning. The weather really added character to the desert, especially when the sun shined through. Only a little bit more of exploring to do today before starting the journey home, which is always a bummer. But, at the same time the comforts of home, a shower and a real bed sound really nice as well.







A little to the south east is the Silver Lake Talc workings.







The Silver Lake-Yucca Grove area contains the Silver Lake mine about 7 miles northeast of the Silver Lake playa, the Pomona and Calmasil mines near Yucca Grove, and several prospects. Of these, the Silver Lake mine, first worked in 1916, is the oldest and largest operation. The other two mines have been operated continuously since the early forties. The combined output of the three totaled between 15,000 and 20,000tons for 1950.

Deposits of commercial talc in the vicinity of Silver Lake, San Bernardino County, California were almost continuously mined from 1915 to the mid-1970s. They yielded an estimated 300,000 tons of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. These deposits consist of mixtures of magnesian silicate minerals – mostly tremolite but also various proportions of talc, chlorite(?), serpentine, and forsterite. The products sold as commercial talc were used as a ceramic raw material and a paint ingredient. The talc-rich rock was also marketed as a lubricant in the manufacture of rubber goods. - Source Credit
academia.edu


















From here it was a couple different gas/powerline trails to get back to the 127. Super fun roads! I really didn't want this section to end as the ol' 4runner was just gettin' it.









Last stop was Silver Lake. Unfortunately there's really nothing left of the old town that was such a defining spot of the area, pre-dating Baker. The only remnants are a few old foundations and a cemetery.
 

1MK

ExploreDesert
“. . . The town of Silver Lake was mirrored in blue water as shining and as heavenly as the vision which was lost. The houses had weathered a deep orange and burned in the sun. The white tank set upon stilts above the well was dazzling to look at. Trees grew beside the glistening dream‐water. It was brighter than an‐y town or lake could possibly be; it was magical.” So wrote the Eastern author Edna Brush Perkins. On a tour through the deserts of California about 1920, she considered Silver Lake the essence of the Mojave Desert. Silver Lake was
slumbering then, but only a decade earlier, it had throbbed with life.

The construction of the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad‐‐the T&T‐‐north from Ludlow gave rise to the town. The railroad project spurred work at the Riggs silver, to the east, and reawakened interest in the Avawatz Mountains, to the west. The first signs of a settlement appeared when T.T. Brown and Oscar Hibbard opened a store 18 miles south of the end‐of‐track, apparently at the edge of the shimmering clay bed of Silver
Lake, in October, 1906. The Las Vegas Age saw the “prospect of a very lively camp being started there . . . .” With mining excitements making news with feverish frequency, a small town began to emerge a few months later. Francis Marion (Borax) Smith, the founder of the T&T, ordered the construction of a depot, and stagecoaches began running to the mining camps in the Avawatz range, notably to the new camp of Crackerjack, 25 miles west. Charging $15, the Crackerjack Auto Transit Company also began making daily runs to Silver Lake in earl‐y 1907.

A post office was established in March, 1907. Said to be “in progress of building,” Silver Lake embraced a “creditable depot” with outside telephone and telegraph connections, two restaurants, both run boy boomers from Nevada, a store or two, and a liver‐y stable. Rowan and Courtwright, who operated the stable and corral, provided free water to “man and beast” and ran a stage that could reach Crackerjack in five hours. A few months later, the San Bernardino Count‐y supervisors declared Silver Lake a town (platted with a grandiose 63 blocks), voting precinct, and court township. Becoming a court township entitled Silver Lake to a justice of the peace and constable and perhaps a deputy sheriff.

During the boom ‐years, especially 1907 and 1908, the Rose‐Heath‐Fisk store was central to the region's growth. The store supplied the Crackerjack district with general merchandise, hardware, lumber, feed, and ha‐y; the store grossed $150,000 in one ‐year alone. One of the store's owners, Oliver J. Fisk, was a pioneer of several mining booms in the Mojave, served as Silver Lake's first justice of the peace, and helped plat the townsite.

Excitements at Riggs, Avawatz, Bonanza, Harper, Amos Brothers, Five Point, and 17 Mile camps kept business humming for several ‐years. The owner of the Crackerjack News moved to Silver Lake in earl‐y 1908 and founded the weekly Miner; it apparently lasted only a few months. About 65 men were registered to vote in the Silver Lake and Avawatz areas in late 1908. The T&T, meanwhile, surveyed a 12‐mile branch to iron deposits at the foot of the Avawatz range. (The spur was never built.) The area held 135 persons in 1910. About the only outbreak of violence occurred when a section foreman was stabbed to death in 1910 while trying to break up a fight. Silver lake now went into a slumber, awakened only by the noises of occasional mining. Arriving from Los Angeles, Gustave Brauer and his family bought the Heath store in early 1911, then snapped up the J.A. Thomas store a few months later.

Though pioneer motorists enjoyed racing over the bed of the dry lake, it could occasionally
flood. When downpours filled the shallow basin in January, 1916, the T&T had to reroute its trains through Las Vegas‐‐a 170‐mile detour‐and then rebuilt eight or nine miles of roadbed on the east side of the lake. Composed of simple frame buildings, the town was easily moved to the higher ground. When an artist from San Francisco boasted of the progress that his city had made since the earthquake and fire of 1906, Brauer could only chuckle: “Well, Silver Lake ain't so bad. We pulled her up out of the water once already.”

The population of the voting precinct dwindled to 35 in 1920, but to Perkins and a companion, Silver Lake stood out as “a little oasis of life in the solitude.” The sun was setting when they spied eight or 10 “portable houses, bright orange beside the purple darkness of the baked‐ mud lake. . . .” Greeting them were the Brauers, “a kindly German couple” who owned the store, sold them gasoline, and boarded the few travelers bound for the mines. A list of voters nailed to the door of the store contained only seven names, lured by the town's watering trough, burros wandered among the little houses. A 6x2‐foot patch of grass carefully tended by the Brauers stood out as the only green thing in town.

Not even the long hoot of the T&T's trains in the still air disturbed the torpor of the inhabitants. “. . . In about fifteen minutes an ungainly line of freight‐cars with a passenger‐coach or two in the rear comes swaying along. Mrs. Brauer gathers up the dishes leisurely. She hopes they have brought the meat. The last time she had boarders they didn't bring any meat for two weeks. If they bring it she promises to make you a fine German dinner. She never goes out to look at the train. Nobody does, except you, who stand in the doorway and wonder at it. . . .”
Silver Lake faded away like a mirage. Only a station agent and section crew remained in 1927.

The construction of the highway from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City bypassed the town in favor of Baker, eight miles south; a paved branch was built along the T&T tracks to Death Valley. When borax deposits were developed in Kern County, the minas near Death Valley‐‐the lifeblood of the T&T‐‐were abandoned in 1933, and the railroad curtailed its operations. Silver lake's post office closed in February, 1933, and was moved to Baker. The few buildings left housed the station agent and section crew until the T&T was abandoned in 1940. - Source Credit
vredenburgh.org


 

1MK

ExploreDesert
The group of usual's on this type of adventure were posted up in Johnson Valley, and being it was New Year's Eve it only made sense to bring in the new year with some friends. Decided to cut through the Mojave Preserve and make a back entrance via Camp Rock Rd.













Solid way to bring in 2022. More adventure awaits!
 
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