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Hill & Old Mining Towns


10/23/12, Red Mountain, CA (Coord. N 35 deg, 20.238 min; W. 117 deg, 37.152 min)

Tonight, Iím two miles south of Red Mountain, CA.  Doc and Bill had a tough day, pulling through 2000 feet of contour lines. I passed through two old mining towns and Iím now within a long day of making the turn east towards the City of Barstow.

Fortunately, my rotation of horses left me with my strongest team today, Doc and Bill. After breaking camp, the lads climbed from 2800 to 3500 feet, then descending to below 3000 feet, before once again climbing to 3500 feet.  The grade was generally fairly shallow, but there were portions that were as steep as 8 to 10%.

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Up and Down. Bill is a strong horse, but doesnít have anywhere near as much endurance as Doc.  By the time the day was done, he was giving me his ĎIím all iní look.

Later in the afternoon, I made my first stop in the town of Johannesburg.  This town, along with Randsburg and Red Mountain, all experienced a gold boom back in the 1890ís.  There is still some mining in the area and the mines and tailings were reworked up until a few years ago.


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The hillsides are dotted with old mine shafts and piles of tailings.

I had to pick up some water, so I swung by the water department to fill up.  Because the closest town well is ten miles away, the water department charges 5 cents a gallon.  A local citizen was kind enough to pick up my tab for 40 gallons of water - Thank You.

After pulling out of town, I drove through the community of Red Mountain, a mile down the road.  While Johannesburg is still mostly occupied, 3/4 of Red Mountain now appears to be a ghost town.  Old shacks and piles of refuse dot the landscape.  With a lack of a good local water supply, no industry, and pollution from the mines, there is not a lot to attract a local population.

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Johannesburg has a gas station and a couple of cottage industry type businesses, but all of the old establishments in Red Mountain appear to be shut down.

Many of the old mining towns of the west appear to have been cleaned up, but it doesnít look like Red Mountain has received much attention yet. 

The team was tired, but I wanted to clear town, so I turned southward for a couple of miles before making camp.

After pulling off the road and setting up a couple of electric playpens, I turned my tired team out, watered and fed them. In the meantime, several car loads of good folks stopped by, including the Sheriff of San Bernardino County.  It was great meeting everyone and saying Ďhií.


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An old mine headgear and tailing visible in the town of Red Mountain.

Tomorrow, Iím going to hitch Doc and Bob and try to pull 25 miles to the town of Kramer Junction, at the corner of US 395 and State Route 58, where Iíll finally leave US 395 for the first time in several hundred miles.