Kern County, California
GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH
RANDSBURG Is NOT GUSSIED UP for tourists, and as you walk the streets you can see both the still living, class D, rough-around-the-edges mining town it was (and hopes to be again) as well as a “living ghost town” with about 200 residents. It sits in the northeastern end of the Rand Mountains, a mile west of US 395. Hands down, it is the best semi-ghost town in Southern California. This well-worn desert gold mining town supported the on-again off-again efforts of the Yellow Aster mine, one of Southern California’s richest gold mines. The remaining residents either try to cater to tourists, or are retired from life. As Randsburg is not gussied up for tourists, it doesn't have the garish tourist traps and artsy-fartsy shops that seem to infest so many of these historic old towns. This is the real McCoy, a genuine, honest-to-goodness, former desert mining town still clinging to life.
Its story begins on April 25, 1895 when three prospectors wandered over from Summit Dry Diggin's, a nearly forgotten old placer camp ten miles northeast. They found rich gold ore and soon the entire hillside was covered with mining claims. The Rand Mine paid the discoverers well. Despite a short period of legal entanglements, the camp grew, and in 1896 the Yellow Aster Mining Company was incorporated, the mine renamed, the 100 stamp mill ran around the clock, and life was good for the town's 1500 citizens.
Unlike many mining towns, the gold did not run out quickly. During the 1930s, 750 people still remained, and all seemed rosy until 1942 when the US Government ordered the mine to close. The Yellow Aster shut down after producing as much as $20,000,000. People drifted away, and by 1945, Randsburg was nearly deserted. For the next 35 years, Randsburg clung to life with hope. In 1990 that hope was rewarded when the Yellow Aster Mine reopened. It remained open until a few years ago. Today the property and the open pit mine are fenced off to prevent trespass. Again, hope is stubborn, and the residents keep hoping that the mine will again reopen.
Randsburg still has a few active businesses competing for attention with abandoned buildings. There are a couple bed-and-breakfasts, two saloons, a pair of churches, a gaggle of antique shops, an art gallery, fire station, the post office, a museum and the famous Randsburg General Store, all still open. Other businesses were closed at the time of my visit on a mid-day Friday, but they may be open on weekends. The store still serves residents and tourists alike. Check out their lunch counter for a great, fairly inexpensive lunch, followed by their famous banana splits. After eating, check out their bookshelf for some great ghost town titles, including my two books, Dust in the Wind - A Guide to American Ghost Towns and GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.
Wandering through the town with a camera in hand attracts very little attention, as long as you stay on the road or the shoulder. Some of the buildsings are posted, so please abide by the owner’s wishes. Scattered about the perimeter of town are headframes and other mining buildings, all of which are posted.
This is our CURRENT Ghost Town of the Month
Location (Fire Station):
· E-Ctr Sec 35, T29S, R40E, Mt. Diablo Baseline & Meridian
· Latitude: 35.3678963 / 35° 22' 04" N
· Longitude: -117.6521884 / 117° 39’ 08” W
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FIRST POSTED: September 01, 1998
LAST UPDATED: April 28, 2013
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