Aug 24, 2014

Ghost Towns in Northern California

Last month, while camping with my family at Lake Davis, we took a day trip to two of the best ghost towns in Northern California, Walker Mine and Lucky S Mine.

First was Walker Mine. The drive was actually quite straightforward and the site safe and easily accessible, with a great view from the top. Directions (and some great historical photos) can be found here.


At the top of the hill is the entrance to the mine, complete with railcar lines, old railcars, and outbuldings.




One of the outbuildings was full of shallow boxes scattered about like the one pictured below.



It was only after we left that we realized that they were for rock samples like these I photographed.


Below the main buildings are other concrete structures that we assume were used to process the copper.


We had lots of fun wondering what these structures could've been used for, from a safe distance.


I was amazed at how the ruins had partially deteriorated and revealed hints about the construction, but still left us all guessing about the function.


For example, the walls of this overgrown structure were partially constructed out of random materials, hinting that perhaps they were building and growing so fast that they had to use scrap material instead of waiting for a shipment of new materials.



From there, we headed out for Lucky S Mine, unsure if we could even find it with the vague directions we had. But by using paper maps, cell phones, our car GPS, many hours driving down dirt roads, and sharp eyes, we finally found it! (Photo credit to my dad, below)
For most of the drive, all I saw out of my window was green and brown, trees and plants, the occasional cow. The only thing man-made was the trail itself and the occasional sign (usually just a logging trail marker). I'm searching the landscape as we reach the GPS coordinates, picturing some haunted strip of overgrown buildings, when suddenly, I saw something grey and angular, definitely not a tree - a roof.



There were two cabins and two outbuildings.


I was amazed, first of all, by the fact that there were such well-built buildings here in the middle of nowhere. Then, I was amazed by the craftsmanship of the buildings, which their abandoned deterioration only exemplified. The fallen ceiling beams made you more amazed that the roof was still standing.


While amazed with this mini neighborhood, our directions promised us at least 7 buildings, one of which a 3 story hotel, so we continued our search. We continued toward the GPS coordinates and found a shed labeled "Caution: Explosives" and a steep dead end road. We assumed that we were not going towards the town, if there even was a town, and turned around. Following a small road around the cabins we found earlier, we were suddenly greeted by 3 more buildings and a number of outbuildings.


And, yes, there was a 3 story hotel!


In addition to the buildings, there were artifacts everywhere, including furniture in the houses and hotel.
My favorite was a sled.


Sadly, many of the artifacts had been used as target practice over the years.


Next to the hotel was a slanting building we assumed was a saloon or kitchen/mess hall.



Towards the end of our time at the ghost town, a truck pulled up and its driver introduced himself as a member of the family who had just purchased the land the town sits on. He was very kind in answering our questions about the town and explaining that they intended to do their best to preserve this amazing little town for generations to come.



If walls could dream... they'd dream of outliving their residents.

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