July 2011 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles



Cerro Gordo is again open to day visitors, road and weather conditions permitting.

Please phone (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:


Robert C. Likes, co-author of 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.

This epic 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 desert.

Mules can 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.

The story of Eli and Lottie Johl is an example of new revelations this book uncovers.

Published 2010 by Nick Gariaeff, Gilroy, CA.
80 pages including 64 photographs.
8 1/2 inch square perfect bound
ISBN 978-0-984363

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 farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends 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.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.

We support

Bodie Foundation
"Protecting Bodie's Future by Preserving Its Past


Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 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:  echco@msn.com

It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.

Visit Michael Piatt's site, www.bodiehistory.com, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri 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 the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.



The Last Shootout

at Cerro Gordo

by Cecile Page Vargo

An email enquiry from a reader prompted this story.

The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper reported, January 3, 1893, that a reward of $500 had been offered for William Crapo, the presumed killer of Henry Boland. Crapo was never found.

By 1892, the mines at Cerro Gordo had boomed and busted, but Thomas Boland still hung on to hope and struggled to keep them open. In addition to invested interests in the fading mining camp’s silver deposits, Thomas was chairman of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, and he owned a general store in Keeler, at the shore of Owens Lake. Thomas managed to keep the mines in working order, but couldn’t even pull out the low grade ore that had barely paid for Archie Farrington’s retimbering of the Belshaw shaft before he took over the Union’s lease.

The town was going to the ghosts, as populations dwindled and buildings sat empty and in disrepair. Gone were the days when laughter and cheers and music accompanied the whistling of the never ending wind, along with the daily sounds of gun shots and angry shouts and fist fights at the saloons and dance halls.  The charred remains of Maggie Moore’s dance hall and the eight other buildings that burned with it that fateful night in March, 1880, had long disappeared, as had Maggie’s girls. Lola Travis Palace of Pleasure stood quiet, Lola herself, well on her way to a respectable life with a husband in Kern County. The town was so quiet and desolate, that had the failed Cerro Gordo Social Union, a literary and oratorical club, attempted to resurrect itself minus the competition of Lola and Maggie’s girls, there would have not been enough men to attend.

The jingle bells of the mules’ teams that pulled the freight wagons and the dust of the twice daily stagecoaches all but haunted the Yellow Grade Road.  Occasional wagons with supplies came by, but those would have been few and far between. The post office established November 4, 1869, had closed January 12, 1887, with mail diverted to Keeler at the bottom of the Yellow Grade Road. But with Thomas Boland’s investments and the men he needed to watch over them, the post office reopened on September 14, 1889 with Henry B. Boland, Thomas’ brother, as the postmaster.

It was probably a relatively quiet December day, with only the noise of limited mining activities to break the silence. The wind would have been cold and brisk, and there may even have been traces of snow on the ground.  Henry Boland was on his way to the post office where he had been working only weeks before. John Dunphy was the new postmaster in his place, and they could shoot the breeze while he picked up his mail, if indeed there was any.  With him was his friend John Thomas.

Sixty feet from the post office, was William “Billy” Crapo’s house. Billy was a well educated French Canadian, now the oldest resident in the faded camp. He was well respected as a civil engineer, and had spent many years working in the mines. For a brief time in 1880, when the camp was still hanging on to life, he was postmaster, as Henry Boland had more recently been. Henry and John may have paused for a brief moment before they reached Billy’s house and made note of the political differences that Billy had with Thomas. Even if they didn’t pause, bullets flying from Billy Crapo’s house landed in Henry Boland’s back stopping him dead in his tracks.

The Crapo House is the single story structure to the immediate left of the American Hotel in this view of Cerro Gordo prior to 1911. The white tent cabin above the Crapo House stands on the spot that would later become L. D. Gordon's home.

(L. D. Gordon Collection, courtesy Doug Gordon)

A wagon was nearby, and John Thomas tried to get behind it. More bullets began to fly before he could reach it, hitting him in the eye, the right shoulder and the right wrist. After the first shot, John had noticed Billy Crapo standing at the door of his house where the sounds had come from. 

Newspapers in Inyo County recorded the incident:

A telegram to the following effect came over the wire yesterday: - Henry B. Boland and John Thomas were together walking toward the Post Office. The house occupied by William Crapo is about sixty feet distant from the office. After the men had passed Crapo's house he opened the door and fired after them. Boland fell dead at the first shot, which struck in the back.

When Boland fell Thomas started to get behind a wagon that was near, but before he could reach it he got one bullet in the right shoulder one in the right wrist. The full effect of the wounds received by Thomas could not be stated till examined by a doctor. After the first shot was heard Thomas turned to look where it came from and saw Crapo standing in the door of is house. Doctor I. J. Woodin left Independence yesterday afternoon for Cerro Gordo to attend to Thomas. This tragedy is the outcome of the trouble over the late election at Cerro Gordo. H. B. Boland had been in business as a merchant at Cerro Gordo several years; he was Postmaster when killed; he was aged forty-two years and a native of Pennsylvania. A widow and five children are left to lament this awful tragedy. John Thomas is a native of Wales and has been mining at Cerro Gordo several years; he is a foreman of the Newtown mine. He is a very quiet, well disposed man and has no family; his age is 47 years. Crapo is one of the oldest residents at Cerro Gordo; he is a well educated man, by profession a civil engineer, but for many years engaged in mining. He is a native of Illinois, aged about 47 years. When the report reached here Sheriff Gorman at once telegraphed a posse at Keeler to go to Cerro Gordo, nine miles distant, and arrest Crapo. The posse left Keeler after six o'clock last evening. In the mean time Under Sheriff Holland and Charlie Collios started from Independence; they reached Keeler soon after ten o'clock last night and pushed on to Cerro Gordo. If Crapo resists he is a man who would be hard to take. The latest report this morning from Cerro Gordo is that Crapo had gone, nobody knows where. Beyond Cerro Gordo is the wilderness of deserts and mountains extending hundreds of miles, all of which he knows. He might make his way to Arizona. he has no family. 

 The Inyo Independent and Inyo Register later followed up;

Nothing has been heard of Crapo since he disappeared from Cerro Gordo. He is as completely lost as if he had gone into a tunnel and pulled the hole in after him. (Inyo Independent)

If Crapo is captured, he will probably be lunched. (Inyo Register)

Posters were plastered all over Cerro Gordo and the Owens Valley. A $500 was offered for Billy Crapo’s arrest. Rumors were that he was last seen in the Lida Valley (near Death Valley). Several years later, a miner at Cripple Creek, said to have been involved in the Cerro Gordo fracas, was murdered, but there was never any proof that Crapo was the culprit and Crapo was never seen again. 

Henry Boland’s brother, Thomas, spent many years and a great deal of money trying to locate his brother’s killer. He took it upon himself to claim Billy Crapo’s house as his own by way of damages.

The old mining town bust and boomed a few more times over the years, then went to caretakers and ghosts. The Crapo House still stands near the 1871 American Hotel. The wanted poster is said to still hang in the hotel, with a crude portrait of Billy Crapo, the last badman of Cerro Gordo.  Perhaps one day someone will catch him.

The Crapo House still stands today in the shadow of the American Hotel at Cerro Gordo.



From This Mountain -  Cerro Gordo

by Robert C. Likes and Glenn R. Day

Community Publishing

Out of  Print


Looking Back at Cerro Gordo

by Robert C. Likes

Rosedog Books (see link at left)


The Silver Seekers

by Remi Nadeau

Crest Publishers


Inyo Register and Inyo Independent newspaper articles from the collection of

Mike Patterson and Jody Stewart


The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper

Vol 84, Number 116, page 3. January 3, 1893

Courtesy California Digital Newspaper Collection



Changing of the Guard in Bodie

A Farewell to Mark Langer and Lynn Inouye

by Roger Vargo


Mark Langner, the supervising ranger for Bodie SHP and Mono Lake State Tufa Reserve and his wife, Lynne Inouye, Bodie's archivist, retired at the end of May. Mark worked at Bodie for 14 years. He started his career with California State Parks in Monterey in 1987.

Mark and Lynn are avid hikers and plan to devote more time on outdoor adventures.

Family and friends of Mark and Lynn gathered in Bodie a ghost town goodbye party.

Mark will be replaced by Tom Gunther, formerly at Red Rock Cannon State Park. Tom arrived February.

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