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ON THE ROAD AGAIN

With Ghost Town USA

 

A Tour Guide to the Ghost Towns Along

U.S. HIGHWAY 6

From Bishop, California to Price, Utah

 

 

 

 PART 1

Bishop, CA to the CA/NV State Line

 

 

ROAD TRIP!!! AHHH!!!  The open road.  Adventure calls all of us to get out, crank up the tunes, let the top down - IF you have a convertible - or open the windows and let Mother Nature flood the car with the sights, sounds and smells of the open road.  Roadtrippin’ is good for the soul.  The need to explore, see what’s around the next bend, what’s over the next hill feeds our desire to get out and experience what hidden gems this wonderful country has tucked along its blue highways.  In fact, this Pennsylvania license plate spotted on another “Toad Rip” in the Keystone State says it all!

 

 

It was July 5th, 2008.  I was ready.  I’d finished my breakfast burrito from that “Famous Fast Food” joint in Bishop, California, the gas tank on the Ghost Town Express was filled to the brim, and my little car was crammed full of all the necessities for a successful road trip.  Maps were marked up and keyed to notebook pages overfilled with historical minutiae, there was a fresh tape lodged in the mini-cassette recorder, the laptop and camera batteries were fully charged and the GPS was plugged in and set to “Map Mode”.  Darlene Zschech, the Beach Boys, Robin Mark, the Moody Blues, Kitaro and Coyote Old Man were loaded into the CD player.  I rolled down the windows and headed out to see what US Highway 6 – the “Grand Army of the Republic” Highway – had to offer. 

 

This fascinating road to adventure originally began its cross-country jaunt at the traffic circle in the coastal city of Long Beach, 20-some miles south of Los Angeles.  But, it’s been pruned somewhat.  The 312-mile stretch from Long Beach to Palmdale, to Mojave, to Lone Pine, to Bishop was renamed, relocated and covered up by a plethora of other highways.  So, in 1964, the western anchor of America’s longest cross-country highway that used to run literally from “Sea to Shining Sea” had nearly ten percent of its length lopped off.  The western anchor was uprooted and relocated to Bishop, booting this road from the longest to the second longest, behind US 20: from 3517 miles to 3205.  It still runs through 14 states and the eastern end still wraps firmly around the scorpion-tailed tip of Cape Cod, ending its run at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

 

Our journey begins on a warm July morning at the quiet intersection just east of the Shell gas station at the north end of Bishop where US 395 makes its 90 degree bend.  This semi-hidden junction marks the real beginning of our adventure, despite what the sign says on the opposite side of the street. Heading north on 6, the road shoots straight out of Bishop for about a mile, then hangs an east turn, running straight for another 2½ miles.  Then it jogs back to the north, heading towards Nevada.  At that jog is the small town of LAWS, our first stop. 

 

LAWS

LAWS reeks of history.  It sits on the east side of the previously-mentioned big ninety-degree bend at mile post  (MP) 4 just east of the Owens River, about four miles northeast of Bishop and just south of the Inyo/Mono County line.  It was originally established in 1883 as Bishop Creek Station, the Carson & Colorado Railroad’s railroad station for Bishop Creek, Bishop’s original name until 1888.  The new railroad station became a major stop on the C&C, which originated in Nevada, climbed over Montgomery Pass, then dropped down through Benton Valley, Chalfant Valley, and entered the upper reaches of Owens Valley.  From LAWS, it ran then down the east side of Owens Valley, along the base of the Inyo Mountains, ending at Keeler.  It was built to tap the rich silver mines of Cerro Gordo, which lie at the summit of the Inyo Mountains north of Keeler. 

 

In 1883, a 20 x 74 depot building was erected at BISHOP CREEK STATION and a small town quickly grew up around the building.  On February 26, 1887, a post office opened its doors with George H. Hardy as the first postmaster.  It remained in operation until June 30, 1963.  BISHOP CREEK STATION boomed with the railroad, becoming a busy shipping center for agricultural products and minerals being shipped from mines in the region.  Numerous businesses popped up, including a barber, blacksmith shop, boarding house, “eating” house, two general stores, hotel, pool and dance hall, post office, powder magazine, rooming house and warehouses.  An old photo also shows a whitewashed,  wooden school house. 

 

In 1900, the Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the line, and renamed the station LAWS, after R.J. Laws, an assistant superintendent for the railroad.  For a detailed history of the Carson & Colorado Railroad, see John Hungerford's book The Slim Princess.   LAWS remained busy, as the trains carried mining products, agricultural goods and passengers in and out of Owens Valley.  In 1908, the Southern Pacific had run a standard gauge rail line north from Mojave to Owenyo, north of Lone Pine.  The Owenyo Station also served the narrow gauge line, the station sitting between the two.  Here goods and passengers could be switched from the narrow gauge line to the standard gauge line.  As a result, Owens Valley had direct rail connections both to the north and to the south.  However, all good things seem to end, and the Great Depression of the 1930s took its toll.  In 1938, the Southern Pacific closed the narrow gauge line from LAWS, to the north.  After they removed the rails, LAWS became the northern terminus, remaining busy for another 20 years. 

 

However, in the late 1950s, the Southern Pacific moved to close the remaining portion of the narrow gauge between Laws and Keeler.  In April 1960, the railroad closed, the last train ran, and the “Slim Princess” passed into history as the tracks were pulled and the line officially ceased to exist.  Until it was completely abandoned, the LAWS to Keeler branch was the last public-use, operational narrow gauge railroad in the American West.

 

When the railroad shut down, LAWS faded, but didn’t quite die.  During the 1950s and 1960s, Huntley Industrial Minerals Company operated a kaolin, siltex, and pyrophyllite mill here that processed those clays from nearby mines.  The company also operated their laboratory and company offices here.  The clay was milled, bagged and shipped from the plant, but after the rail line closed, it had to be trucked. The clay was used on athletic fields, in cement and paint pigments and extenders.  The talc was used in talcum powder and paper coatings. 

 

After the Southern Pacific shut down the rail line, they donated the station and some rolling stock to the City of Bishop, and Inyo County.  Both agencies quickly moved to establish a railroad museum at LAWS, and on April 1, 1966 it opened.  In the meantime, a movie company helped restore some of the old buildings and built others as a set for Nevada Smith.  The museum consists of the movie set buildings, the restored depot and a fantastic collection of relics of a bygone railroad period.  The rest of LAWS consists of a few scruffy homes, a railroad crossing sign, an old concrete bunker and a couple of small industrial businesses.  Other than the museum LAWS has a genuinely weathered, “less-than-prosperous” air about it.

 

Leaving LAWS, US 6 heads straight north up the wide valley and crosses the Inyo/Mono County line at MP 8.354.  It then swings slightly to the northwest, where the trees and buildings of CHALFANT beckon.

 

CHALFANT

Today, CHALFANT is a quiet, rural, residential community located along the east side of US 6, about a mile north of the county line, at an elevation of 4258’.  It consists of a collection of houses, a ball field and park, fire station and a “modern” 1970s era tin-roofed, wood veneer-sided market.  In the late 1960s, the old clapboard, false-fronted CHALFANT General Store remained, but has long since disappeared having been replaced by the nondescript, architecturally less pleasing market that anchors the tiny town of 300 or so folks.  When the Carson & Colorado Railroad came through, the siding established here was named after the Bishop newspaper publisher W. A. “Willie” Chalfant.  It was located along the old Carson & Colorado Railroad line about a mile southeast of the roofless rock ruin at the south end of town, at or near the powerhouse at the junction of Slim Princess/Chalfant Loop/Piute Creek Rds.  The post office opened in 1913, and is no longer in operation. 

 

About a quarter mile north of CHALFANT between MP 13 and 14 are a couple rock-walled ruins east of the highway.

 

Somewhere between here and the next stop at HAMMIL, two small sidings were established along the Carson & Colorado Railroad.  They were called DEHY and SHEALY, but I have not determined their exact locations.  SHEALY was approximately six miles north of CHALFANT, east of US 6, along the old railroad grade, PROBABLY just north of White Mountain Ranch Road about four miles south of HAMMIL.  DEHY, about 7.5 miles north of CHALFANT, 1.5 miles north of SHEALY and 2.5 miles south of HAMMIL.

 

Coming up next is the scattered ranching community of …

 

HAMMIL

HAMMIL shows no connection to its railroading past.  It sits on the east side of US 6 at the junction with Black Rock Mine/Cinnamon Ranch Rd.  GNIS indicates it as a site located on the southeastern corner of Cinnamon Ranch Rd/Hammil Valley Road.  At the “site” indicated, only a couple scattered ranch homes and a pile of telephone poles remain.  It was originally established as a siding and station along the Carson & Colorado Railroad.  The station was a converted 8 x 28 box car.  A water tower was also located here, but nothing remains of either structure.  Off to the east another name that made it onto early maps – Mocalno – a post office located on the Cinnamon Ranch located east of HAMMIL station. It too is long gone. All that remains is a small rural community with all homes of fairly recent vintage.  Just to the north and on the west side of the highway is an old stamp mill.

 

As US 6 continues its northwesterly trend, the elevation rises slowly.  Stop along the highway midway between HAMMIL and BENTON.  Off to the east, at the base of the White Mountains, is the site of…

 

QUEEN DICKS

This ghost ranch was located along Reichert Creek in the White Mountains, 3.9 miles east of US 6 at a point 5.3 miles south of Benton Station.  This ranch was established and operated by a Piute Indian named Queen Dick.  He had established an extensive ranch in the canyon, where he raised goats and planted crops.  He constructed numerous rock walls, a cabin, barn and other outbuildings, which have since collapsed. It is ONLY accessible by foot or via a four-wheel-drive trail.

 

Continuing north, US 6 enters the little half-dead town of…

 

BENTON

Right in the heart of BENTON is the junction with State Highway (SH) 120, which heads west towards Lee Vining and US 395.  Four miles west of this junction is the old silver mining town of BENTON HOT SPRINGS.  These two little towns were featured as our Ghost Town of the Month in August 2008, so the details of these two towns are available on our BENTON page. Along the east side of US 6 in the heart of BENTON is an E Clampus Vitus historical monument that notes the location and history of …

 

MONTGOMERY CITY

Like Queen DicKS (above), MONTGOMERY CITY is only accessible via foot or a four-wheel-drive vehicle.  This 1860s era silver mining town is located on the west slope of the White Mountains, in Montgomery Falls Creek Canyon, 2.7 miles due east of BENTON.  It was a well-publicized, but very short-lived mining camp, but never lived up to its billing and was wiped out by a flashflood.  When it was active, only about $60,000 came from the Phoenix and Mountain Queen (Creekside) Mines, yet the town had a newspaper and a large number of buildings, which by the early 1970s were rubble. 

 

From BENTON, US 6 swings to the northeast and seven miles later reaches the California/Nevada state line.

 

CONTINUED in PART 2

 

 

 

Part 1 – NEXT

 

PART 1: Bishop, CA to CA/NV State Line

PART 2: CA/NV State line to Tonopah, NV

PART 3: Tonopah to Warm Springs, NV

PART 4: Warm Springs, NV to NV/UT State Line

PART 5: NV/UT State Line to the Tintic Mining District, UT

PART 6: The Tintic Mining District to Price, UT

PART 7: Coal Mining Camps west of Price, UT

 

 

GPS and Standard Township/Range locations for the sites featured above.

 

SITE NAME

ELEV.

LATITUDE

LONGITUDE

TOWNSHIP/RANGE

Benton (Station) (Mono Co.)

5387’

37.8190990 / 37° 49’ 09” N

-118.4765094 / 118° 28’ 35” W

W2 Sec 32, T1S, R32E, MDM*  (* Mount Diablo Base Line & Meridian)

Benton Hot Springs (Mono Co.)

5630’

37.8002103 / 37° 48’ 01” N

-118.5290107 / 118° 31’ 44” W

SW3 Sec 2, T2S, R31E, MDM

Bishop (Junction US 6/395) (Inyo Co.)

4150’

37.374523

-118.395367

N-Ctr Sec 6, T7S, R33E MBM

Chalfant (Valley) (Mono Co.)

4258’

37.5293738 / 37° 31’ 46” N

-118.3634454 / 118° 21’ 48” W

NE3 Sec 8, W½ Sec 9, T5S, R33E, MDM

Chalfant Siding (Mono Co.)

Approx 4200’

37.508177  Approx

-118.348997 Approx

SE3 Sec 16, T5S, R33E, MDM Approx

Dehy Siding (Mono Co.)

Approx 4540’

37.643580  Approx

-118.388178 Approx

SE3 Sec 36, T3S, R32E, MDM / Or SW3 Sec 31, T3S, R33E, MDM (approx)

Hammil (Mono Co.)

4593’

37.6785423 / 37° 40' 43" N

-118.4037274 / 118° 24' 13" W

NW3 Sec 24, T3S, R32E, MDM

Inyo/Mono County Line

4216’

37.6785423 / 37° 27’ 45” N

-118.350048 / 118° 20’ 58” W

-

Laws (Inyo Co.)

4117’

37.4007622 / 37° 24’ 03” N

-118.3456639 / 118° 20’ 44” W

NW3 Sec 27, T6S, R33E, MDM

Laws – Railroad Museum (Inyo Co.)

4118’

37.3993734 / 37° 23' 58" N

-118.3462195 / 118° 20' 46" W

NW3 Sec 27, T6S, R33E, MDM

Montgomery City (Mono Co.)

6450’

37.8285428 / 37° 49' 43" N

-118.4309530 / 118° 25' 51" W

SE3 Sec 27, T1S, R32E, MDM

Queen Dicks (Mono Co.)

6201’

37.7638206 / 37° 45' 50" N

-118.4009508 / 118° 24' 03" W

NW3 Sec 24, T2S, R32E, MDM

Shealy (Mono Co.)

Approx 4590’

37.620044 Approx

-118.385475 Approx

NW3 Sec 7, T4S, R33E, MDM Approx

State Line (CA/NV)

5983’

37.901136 / 37° 54’ 04” N

-118.435364 / 118° 26’ 06” W

-

 

 

Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America. Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called:

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.  Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

 

For more information on the ghost towns along this portion of US HIGHWAY 6, contact us at Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE: Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line.  THANK YOU!  :o)

IMPORTANT

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites along this portion of US HIGHWAY 6 above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same. 

When you are exploring the ghost towns along US HIGHWAY 6, please abide by the

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

 

 

Also visit: Ghost Town USA’s

 

Home Page | Site Map | Ghost Town Listings | On the Road Again | Photo Gallery | Treasure Legends

CURRENT Ghost Town of the Month | PAST Ghost Towns of the Month

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics | Publications | Genealogy | License Plate Collecting

 

A few LINKS to outside webpages:

Ghost Towns | Treasure Hunting | License Plate Collecting | Genealogy

 

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FIRST POSTED:  January 4, 2010

LAST UPDATED: June 15, 2014

 

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