Cerro Gordo is again
open to day visitors, road and weather conditions
Because of heavy snowfall, access is not recommended during
the winter months.
(760-876-5030) for current conditions before venturing out!
A caretaker is living
on on the site and visitors must check in before venturing
around the ghost town.
No supplies or accommodations are available at Cerro Gordo and
visitors should bring plenty of drinking water and haul out their
own trash. The dirt road from Keeler to Cerro Gordo is a steep,
eight mile ascent. Four wheel drive is not usually required, but
vehicles should have adequate ground clearance.
Phone 760-876-5030 for current
information or contact us through email at:
CERRO GORDO BOOK !
Robert C. Likes,
From This Mountain--Cerro Gordo,
has completed a second book about Cerro Gordo.
Click on the
cover image (above) to learn more.
This is a
story of a generation that sought its own self-identity in a
world that suddenly became more complicated with an
uncertain future and values.
journey was staged on desert mountains, on steamboats
carrying silver bullion across a desert lake, and on a
freighting trail that traversed 200 miles of inhospitable
taste the difference--so can you
A new book
by Nick Garieff
Discovering Bodie tells stories about twenty
residents of the High Sierra ghost town of Bodie,
California. Included are a selection of the author's black
and white photographs presented as duochromes of buildings
or artifacts relating to the residents lives.
story of Eli and Lottie Johl is an example of new
revelations this book uncovers.
by Nick Gariaeff, Gilroy, CA.
80 pages including 64 photographs.
8 1/2 inch square perfect bound
Click on the book cover
above to go to discoveringbodie.com
LOGO T Shirts Available
Explore Historic California with our logo depicting the
California backcountry and its rich history both true and
We now offer
shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.
Click the shirt for details!
of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in
sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso
Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is
preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro
Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.
on either logo to visit the FLCC site.
"Protecting Bodie's Future by Preserving Its Past
Click on Room 8's
photo or phone
for more information.
The Panamint Breeze is a newsletter for people who
love the rough and rugged deserts and mountains of
California and beyond.
Published by Ruth and Emmett Harder, it is for people who
are interested in the history of mining in the western
states; and the people who had the fortitude to withstand
the harsh elements.
It contains stories of the past and the present; stories of
mining towns and the colorful residents who lived in them;
and of present day adventurers.
Subscriptions are $20 per year (published quarterly –
March, June, September & December) Subscriptions outside the
USA are $25 per year. All previous issues are available.
Gift certificates are available also.
To subscribe mail check (made payable to Real Adventure
Publishing) along with name, address, phone number & e-mail
address to: Real Adventure Publishing, 18201 Muriel Avenue,
San Bernardino, CA 92407.
For more information about the
Panamint Breeze e-mail Ruth at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's always FIRE
SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.
www.bodiehistory.com, for the truth behind some of
Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan.
A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley,
she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer
families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo
for information on her tours with the Bodie Foundation.
Credo Quia Absurdum
Explore Historic California!
Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the
magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to
be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and
other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically,
industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to
drive their vehicles off the paved highway.
Click your mouse through
website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.
The Foster Father of Bodie and
by Cecile Page Vargo
African American History Month. Originally known
as Negro History Week it was first
celebrated in February 1926. The celebration
was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's
bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged
Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the
too-often neglected accomplishments of black
Americans in every area of endeavor throughout
since 1976, the U.S. president issues a
proclamation declaring the second month of the
year Black History Month or National African
American History Month.
Read more about
African American History Month from the
Library of Congress.
In the late
1860’s the boomtown of Aurora, Nevada, was on the decline and
the neighboring mining camp named after W. S. Bodey teeter
tottered on the edge of extinction. Peter Eshington and Louis
Lockberg combed the Bodie Hills for what gold and silver they
could find, continuing to work the Bunker Hill Mine, while
African American William “Uncle Billy” O’Hara, left Aurora and
hung on to the dream as a staunch Bodie supporter. Without Uncle
Billy, and his financing, Eshington and Lockberg may not have
stuck around long enough to hit the mother lode that caused the
sleepy camp of Bodie to awaken.
his career on the Mississippi steam boats working as a cabin
boy. For 25 years he worked on the river. During this time he
met William C. Ralston, the future President of the Bank of
California. Ralston ran a cotton boat on the Mississippi with
O’Hara. When gold fever hit Ralston, Billy followed him. At the
Isthmus of Panama they caught up with each other, eventually
winding up in San Francisco.
The rush for
gold at Hildreth's Diggings (Columbia) in the foothills of the
western Sierras called to Billy. With his wife, Charlotte, by
his side, he decided to try his hand at placer mining. The
restaurant business turned out to be a better deal, and he left
the mines to run the Jenny Lind Hotel until 1859. Billy and his
wife lived in a ranch near the hotel. His wife was noted for
taking care of the miners and others who became sick. In
August,1859, the O'Hara's threw a grand party at their ranch in
honor of the twenty fifth anniversary of the British
government’s abolition of slavery in the West Indies Islands.
Local newspapers reported on the party, which was well attended
by the citizens of Columbia. The O'Hara's were well liked by
O’Hara died in 1862, Billy left Columbia for the eastern side of
the Sierras and the booming town of Aurora, Nevada Territory.
The lavish basement restaurant at the Merchant’s Exchange Hotel
was Billy’s next venture, where he was well regarded as manager.
For O'Hara, race wasn't an issue, but other African Americans
were discriminated against. When another Aurora citizen of color
witnessed the burning of the Durand Mill on Bodie Creek he was
not allowed to give testimony and the arsonists were never
prosecuted. "Uncle Billy", as he had become affectionately
known, was so well liked, however, that he was able to host a
large farewell party for himself before his move to the mining
camp of Bodie in 1865.
The Empire Mine
Gold and Silver Mining Company hired O’Hara to run their
boarding house, which was probably the first of it’s kind in the
Bodie Mining District.. Even after the properties were abandoned
in 1867, O’Hara stayed on as watchman. At some point Billy
received title to the Bunker Hill Mine. When he couldn’t find a
buyer for the mine, he turned it over to Peter Eshington and
Louis Lockberg, with the agreement that they would pay him
$8,000 when the mine began to pull out ore. Eshington and
Lockberg worked the Bunker Hill at a loss until an accidental
cave-in revealed a rich vein.
of his success with money in Bodie, Uncle Billy O’Hara wound up
back in Aurora where he earned a reputation as a fair and
favorite lender to those in need. At his death in 1880, Billy
had accumulated $40,000. Because of his assistance and
encouragement to anyone who tried, the Bodie newspapers declared
him the "Foster Father of Bodie & Aurora."
O'Hara's death notice from the Daily Alta
California, (San Francisco), Volume 32, Number
10969, 26 April 1880.
the present day Bodie cemetery brochure, Uncle Billy is buried
in Bodie, but the sands of time have taken its toll on his
grave, and the exact location is unknown.
final resting place is in the Bodie Cemetery, but
the exact location of his final resting place, like
that of W. S. Bodey, is lost to time.
by Frank Wedertz
Community Printing & Publishing, 1969
by Warren Loose
Exposition Press Inc., 1971
by Marguerite Sprague
University of Nevada Press, 2003
Bodie-The Mines Are Looking Well.
by Michael H. Piatt
North Bay Books, 2003
African American History Month
The Library of Congress
Daily Alta California
Volume 32, Number 10969, 26 April 1880
Maggie Ho Dog Wishes Sadie to the Cornfield
by Cecile Page Vargo
For several years, our blonde chow retriever, Sadie,
travelled with us on our Explore Historic California tours.
She came to us the fall of 1996, rescued from an abusive
home when she was three months old. On Monday January 24,
2011 Sadie crossed over the Rainbow Bridge to be with her
canine siblings, Jessie and Jake, who also travelled on our
tours. The last years of her life were spent at our son's
house. Sadie's ashes will be scattered in the Inyo Mountains
near Jessie's and Jake's.
Jessie and Jake. Together again for all time.
was a sad day in October, when Maggie wished Sadie into the
cornfield much like Billy Mumy did to everyone he knew in that
old and familiar Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode, which
ever it was, I don't remember. But there was nothing to do about
it.....the two no longer got along and it was frightening at
times. We played musical dogs for nearly a month, until we
couldn't handle the stress of it any more, and were tired of
living in fear that dogs and humans were going to get hurt in an
few days after Halloween we packed up all of her
belongings...the big plastic house, the stainless steel dish, a
big bag of her favorite food, the same red leash she had had for
all 9 years of her life, some doggie biscuits, a Nylabone and
some rawhide one's as well. And with a tear in my eye, unable to
breathe, I took Sadie from the huge dog yard where she had lived
with her brother Jake since the day she came to us a three month
old rescue puppy, frightened and abused.
hooked Sadie's leash on her collar and took her to the 4Runner,
prepared for her to balk when I went in, certain she knew
something unusual was going on. I remembered how frightened she
and Jake were two years before when their 14 1/2 year old
sister, Jessie, didn't come back from the vets, and how they
shook so hard as I sat on the little bedroom couch reserved for
them, and cried and sat between them with my arms around them
and told them it was just us now, but it would be all right.
Then two days later they were still at such a loss without their
alpha sister dog to lead them as she always had. I had loaded
them in the 4Runner, then, for a ride to get their minds off of
things and they had to be forced in for fear they were doomed to
a similar fate as she had been. And they trembled and shook and
forgot everything they had learned about enjoying car rides and
traveling with me.
spite of all I was feeling, and surely relaying to poor Sadie
who had a 6th sense about those things, she must have realized
that this ride on this day was different. Perhaps it was seeing
every earthly thing she owned in the vehicle with her, I don't
know. She just jumped in the back seat as if it was the most
naturally thing in the world, something she didn't do well even
when she would go camping and ghost towning.
husband and I drove her the near mile down the street to Eric's
house. Sadie had never been there before, but she jumped out of
the 4Runner and walked in his house and went out to his yard as
if it were hers. And truly it was now, but the actions from her
were so unusual, this was our Sadie...the abused rescued puppy,
part chow, part golden retriever, who was a one couple dog, who
wouldn't hurt a flea, but barked at everyone and was distant to
them, even if she had seen them a hundred times in her life.
make the transition easy, we stayed at Eric's for the evening,
and Sadie settled in to a big back yard twice the size of hers,
and with grass instead of dirt! We gorged on a big pot of
homemade chili Colorado Eric cooked up special for us, then
watched a couple of movies on his DVR. All three of us nearly
forgot what we had originally come to his house for.
Then the time was over and it was time to go. I held back the
tears and my breath once again, and I swallowed hard as I looked
out the big sliding glass doors. I wanted to hug her and tell
her it was ok, she was with her human brother now and he loved
her and would take could care of her like we did. And she could
still come for doggie visits to see Jake. I would babysit her
here when need be. But she was off exploring her new yard and
didn't notice me looking through those sliding glass doors, so I
let it be, and went home to almost two year old Maggie Moore Ho
Dog who had wished her in the cornfield, and to 14 year old
Jake, who would miss her, but get over it and needed to live his
last years with his Mommy and Daddy. Thank goodness the
cornfield was Eric's, and Sadie liked the cornfield!
was tough for Sadie at first. Eric worked long hours and was
gone a lot, and she was left there with Eric's roommate, a
complete stranger to her. She barked all day unless someone was
there. She probably barked all day for a month of days, and then
she got over it. The dog that was fearful of people and kids,
and loud noises, got used to it. The first bash, on New Year's
scared her, particularly the loud music coming from the DJ. She
tucked her tail in between her legs as she walked around, and
she occasionally barked at the strange people gyrating on Eric's
floor to the strange sounds. But she got used to it for the most
part, and handles the strange people and the noises pretty well
now. Thank goodness, because Eric and housemates like frequent
bbq's and bashes.
Over the weekend, a year later, Eric brought Sadie to us to see
Jake. He was having a big party, anyway, and while Sadie is used
to it all, it was still a stressful for her. So we happily
played musical dogs with Sadie and Maggie for a day and a night
and it was good. The next evening Eric arrived in his bikini
topped Jeep and picked her up and loaded her in it and she went
home again. Hard to imagine her in that open Jeep not jumping
out, as she used to jump out of the 4Runner when I didn't want
her to, if we wouldn't let her out to ghost town with us. But
while this was all a new experience this bikini top Jeep riding,
Sadie took it in stride and calmly sat down on the seat beside
Eric as he drove her back to her new life in the safety of the
cornfield that Maggie Moore Ho Dog had wished her in, and
somehow it all seemed right and meant to be.