7 Months Alone In A Ghost Town

October 2020 updates from around Cerro Gordo, including the rebuilding of the American Hotel, unexplored mines, lumber delivery, a gym, and more…

Thank you for your support and for subscribing. I have set up a Patreon for those interested in more content, live video AMAs and supporting me and the town!

You can follow my journey on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brentwunderwood/

Cerro Gordo T-Shirts and more: https://store.cerrogordomines.com/ (all proceeds go to hotel rebuilding)

You can send me mail at:
PO Box 490, Lone Pine, CA 93545

To provide ongoing support to the American Hotel rebuilding efforts, check out my bonus content on Patreon. Every dollar from that goes directly into rebuilding the American Hotel and projects around the town. Thank you! https://www.patreon.com/ghosttownliving

I moved to Cerro Gordo in March 2020 because of the pandemic and to relieve our longtime caretaker so he could be back home. I’ve been here ever since. There have been ups and downs, but I feel I am learning a lot and becoming a better person.

Follow along on this channel for more from the town. I have no plans to leave and will continue making videos to update the progress on all the projects!

The town was originally established in 1865 and by 1869 they were pulling 340 tons of bullion out of the mountain for Los Angeles.

The silver from Cerro Gordo was responsible for building Los Angeles. The prosperity of Cerro Gordo demanded a larger port city and pushed LA to develop quickly.

The Los Angeles News once wrote:

“What Los Angeles is, is mainly due to it. It is the silver cord that binds our present existence. Should it be uncomfortably severed, we would inevitably collapse.”

In total, there has been over $17,000,000 of minerals pulled from Cerro Gordo. Adjusted for inflation, that number is close to $500,000,000.

It’s been a wild ride so far owning a ‘ghost town’ and we’re having a lot of fun figuring out what to do with it.

Subscribe by email to get one email per month on most recent renovations, artifact finds, cave explorations, ghosts?, and more…


The type of things that might lead you here are interests in ghost towns, abandoned mining towns, abandoned cities, California history, the zombie apocalypse, ghost stories, scary stories, nature, death valley, lone pine CA, mines, exploring, overnight challenges, exploration, urban exploration and yes theory.

Hello greetings, my name is Brent and we are here at the abandoned mining town of Cerro Gordo and for the past seven months or so this has been my home over the past month or so we’ve been a lot of progress up here, so I wanted to Make a video showing everything going on the past month. So after I came up here in march, There’s been tons of ups and downs, there was highs of highs and you know some of the lowest moments as well, but this past month has been really inspiring. I’m really feeling good.

It just feels like the pieces are. Finally, falling into place, and so I’m really excited to show you guys what’s been going on up here. I think the biggest thing that’s been on my mind and a big part of this channel has been the rebuilding of the American hotel and admittedly, there hasn’t been too many updates around that, and that’s because a lot of the work so far has been behind the Scenes we were required to get permits by the county in order to rebuild or start clearing the site and operate the hotel and those permits required.

You know engineering plans, architectural plans, site visits by the county and all stuff, but I am very happy to admit that we currently have permits in hand or more specifically permits in email, and it was a unanimous approval by the county which thank you county. That means a lot to us, and so as soon as that thumbs up was given, we hired a loader and have been working on the site. I’ve gotten to use a loader, which is a lot of fun and become one of my favorite things to do. The hotel site is pretty clear to this point.

There’s some more work that we’re doing over I’m breaking up the ice house. Next comes the crapo still got some things to do here, but we’re moving along a lot of progress. This month I mean that loader definitely helps. As you can see. It’s pretty much cleared down past the ash now and that’s been a huge relief. I mean waking up every morning and having to kind of relive that was quite difficult and now just seeing the progress is just I don’t know inspiring, I think is the best way to describe it and so right now, I’m just working to clear it further.

The next step that I’m trying to do before the winter hits any even more is to make a basement. The plan currently is to have the building look very similar to it as it did before so, for the outside the building is going to be as it was before so two stories. You know the tin roof the deck out front and for the facade, we’re gonna use old wood, so wood, that’s aged and kind of that golden brown color, that’s similar to the hotel used to be so that way, it doesn’t stand out or anything like that And as you go in there’ll, be a small lobby area and desk at the front, then just past that we’ll go into the main room.

There’ll be a bar on the left and hopefully the bar looks very similar to the bar did in the old hotel. Next to the bar there’ll be a card room, I mean it wouldn’t be a saloon without a card room we’ll probably even have to put back in the swinging doors and all that in front of the bar is going to be the dining area where there’ll be Small tables to be able to eat and then in the back, there’ll be a kitchen, a fully functioning kitchen and before we weren’t really able to utilize that space in the way that we could. But you know this is gonna, be a new hotel.

It’s gonna have running water. It’s gonna be up to code, there’ll be sprinklers to make sure It’s safe, that’s kind of the most important part of the hotel and then, as you go upstairs, you know, There’s gonna be six rooms, and so each of the six rooms are all gonna have beautiful views of sequoia national park and each of the rooms will have. You know, fancy things like its own bathroom, a shower and all of that. So hopefully you know in a year or so some of you are able to come up and experience. These views every night the county is coming up tomorrow at 10 a.m, to discuss putting in the basement, I think It’s leaning towards full basement just for the storage space, and particularly during the winter, when It’s very cold.

Hopefully I can sit on this bench in a couple months and we’ll see a basement behind me and who knows in less than a year i’ll sit in the same spot and it’ll be a full-blown hotel behind me. One of the other coolest things happened this month is somebody that watches this channel reached out and they said: hey brett. Do you need some wood for the hotel and I thought maybe that meant some two by fours.

Maybe it was some plywood, but no no. These were full trees that were rough milled and not just one. We ended up getting six full beautiful trees that are milled into these two inch planks that I think we’re going to use to build the deck of the hotel, and so It’s amazing to think that, because of this youtube channel, you know the deck of the hotel. Will be rebuilt with wood given from a viewer, which I don’t know it just means a lot to me and that leads into you know:

There’s gonna be a little bit extra wood from that that we won’t be able to use for the deck. So that will go into the other project. I’ve been working on for the past month is an assay office. As you can see this project’s going on pretty good. I got most of the old wood cleared out of here. I remember before there was just wood everywhere and this was originally an assay office so where they tested the quality of the minerals that came into Cerro Gordo. And so I want to rebuild a building here, because It’s prime real estate for the town, so I’ve taken down everything but preserving this wall, because I mean that type of wood that color you just can’t recreate and It’s beautiful.

This is the site that It’s on and when we’re done, that’ll be the view of town overlooking that too. So this could either be. You know two cabins one could come out here this way and then one could go that way or one longer cabin, but either way it’ll be a great addition to town. that’s what I want to do. You know long term. This main street here just used to have buildings all the way up. There’s a street There’s a street up here that all the buildings are taken down. You can kind of see it. You see right there that that ledge, that used to be a street in town over there There are buildings, and so you know people sometimes ask they’re like oh yeah brent. When will cerrogordo be done, it’ll never be done.

You know I plan to keep adding buildings back. Building the town as we go so once the hotel is done, then this will happen. There’Ll be more cabins, It’s kind of like literally a lifetime project. I’m okay with that, and It’s weird I think in today’s day and age. that’s just so weird! You know they ask you in startup culture like what your monthly month over month grow rate is, and what’s your exit strategy what’s this, but why would I have an exit strategy? I just think that the world, particularly because of the startup culture and the romanticizing of it, has just completely ruined kind of like entrepreneurship and building businesses like they used to build companies to want to run them.

You know to build them to last and now It’s how quickly can you build it and sell it to somebody else and I’m not about that life at all, so keep your startups! I’m gonna stay here at Cerro Gordo,and I’m going to try to build something that many generations of people can enjoy, and hopefully you guys stick around for the ride. Another thing I’ve been experimenting around with this month is a Traeger grill like a smoker, never used one before, but this is the first attempt at a brisket ta-da. Obviously I’m trying to eat more, so not bad. You know I’ll eat for that.

For weeks, but the traeger’s pretty cool, so I’ve gotten into trying to smoke, you know if I smoke one chicken I could eat for days. It’s a lot easier for me, not a bad view. You know It’s not there. Yet this is very dry, but It’s not bad it’ll. Do I mean considering that I’m in a abandoned ghost town very far from austin? If I want brisket, I have to learn how to make it. This isn’t too bad so far make this cut this up for sandwiches in the afternoons and stuff that’ll work.

You know a little bit of mark, I like a little bit more, but I’m learning like everything up here. I’ve started creating a gym here at the saragordo right now over next to the goats, and It’s really important to me. You know growing up. Fitness was a big part of my life. I played baseball for as long as I could remember. I played competitive golf all throughout high school and even after that, my days weren’t days without a workout in the morning, and you know, admittedly for the last seven months, it hasn’t been a priority and I’m feeling it.

You know I feel physically. I feel you know weaker than I have and then mentally. I think working out helps clear the mind a little bit, and so I’m really excited to get the gym it took a while, because of covid people are working out at home more so It’s very long lead to get the home gym equipment, but It’s here and So you know all my excuses are out the window and so hopefully over the coming videos, you can see me get a bit stronger as well time to set up a gym. Got the squat rack. A weight bench got some dumbbells over there. It’s been too long.

It’s been seven months since I’ve worked out for the longest since I was 12 years old, so my goal is to put a gym right in there. we’re definitely not at gym space yet, but this will be the gym. A workout get to hang out next to these guys what up yep. So, let’s set up an old gym now I won’t say I’m as excited about the gym as the hotel, but I am very, very excited about the gym. It’s been something that I’ve been neglecting for a long time. I’m not gonna subject you guys to workout videos, that’s not gonna be part of this channel, but I do hope that I get a little bit healthier and get kind of the health aspect of my life a little bit more back on track.

So this is the gym i’ll show you guys what I got working with. We got you know. Obviously the bench I got some 40 pound weights bar 45 pound plates as well. So I got to secure this rack, but I love pull-ups, so i’ll be doing those. It’s also just a cool looking gym, isn’t it? I think these, like cables on the side, really give it a little bit of perspective. All right, I can’t say I’m as excited about the gym as the hotel, but I am very excited about the gym up at the hoist. You know we’ve been doing a lot of work going on and getting the water and in order to make that a little safer we put in a deck to service one of the bull wheels that needs grease, and previously you had to kind of sketchily walk along.

This beam and hope you didn’t fall, but now There’s a nice wide platform with railings making servicing the hoist a lot safer there. It is the brand new platform and the old hoist all designed to service that wheel up there, but as we’re using it, we need to keep it greased, and so this is all new previously, so we had to walk across that one plank. let’s go up, I don’t love heights, it is sturdy. So this is what It’s designed to get to this wheel here. So this wheel is the cable from the hoist that lets the cage down.

But up here this thing kind of needs to go back and forth, and so it needs to be greased so to get to it before you only have these planks, but now look steps all the way up, easy to think of the people and things that came Out of this hole, It’s amazing and then other than that It’s winter prep, like I said winter’s coming winter, is coming sooner than I may think, and you know admittedly, last year I was not prepared for winter. Some of you may watch the video where I was yeah I’ll call it underprepared, but I’m making a very dedicated effort to not let that happen this year.

So I’ve been stocking up on. You know: non-perishables dry beans, rice canned goods, I’ve, gotten donations. Some people brought up a bunch of stuff that I’ll show you, but basically just trying to hunker down feather the nest and get prepared for the coming winter. Winter is coming. Let me tell you if you don’t think that this 20 pound bag of beans looks at appetizing I’ll. Tell you what, if you’re trapped up here for a number of weeks, this is gonna, be looking pretty good, so I’m starting to pack up on stuff, like that, you know canned goods.

You know slowly, stockpiling those oats potatoes, big old bag of rice. You know just things that can make a meal if need be further supplies. My friend, roger and cecil gave me a bunch of these nutrisystem stuff, apparently they’re very shelf, stable and There’s just tons of them. So I think in this winter, in a pinch, those will go a long ways. You know I got the classic more beans, pasta, stuff protein powder. If I want to try to make some shakes, keep adding to it.

You know I got a month to go, but making good progress can never be too prepared up here for a final update this month I obviously haven’t stopped exploring I started getting on a map and marking where I have and haven’t been on the property. So if you want to talk about how much mine have I explored, how much more is there to explore? This is a map mainly of just the union mine here at cerro, gordo and so There’s many more mines here. But this alone is the union mine, There’s over 30 miles of mine under there and so we’re pretty far out there. Now I thought I might be able to get the razor all the way to this mine, but it doesn’t look like it but yeah.

I think each month I’m going to mark off on the map which tunnels I’ve been into and which tunnels I haven’t been in yet and that way you know you know where the denim is and the denim isn’t today not too much light left. So I need to get a hurry on There’s a really cool mine back here that I’m hoping to explore a little bit today before the sun goes down. Look how massive this stump is It’s just. This is like a hundred and hundred year old, tree [, Music. ]. Look at this look, how tall this joshua tree is. They got a dr seuss or something that’s awesome,.

So that is the portal to the omega tunnel and after looking at the map, that is what potentially connects to the 200 level. We tried to look for an outlet to the outside and everywhere’s collapsed, except if you look at this map, the omega tunnel apparently connects into the 200 level of the main union mine and that’s important for a lot of reasons, because right now I don’t know of Another way to get into the mine, except for the main shaft, and also we could not find where that air was coming in, but I do know where the omega tunnel is so there it is.

That is the entrance, and I mean everything just clicked. When I looked at that map, you know when we blasted this. No one told me that it could potentially connect to the 200 level and I never been into the 200 level, so it didn’t mean as much to me, but now, knowing that this is potentially the source of that cold air. I mean, as you can see, It’s not really an entrance, but There’s a tiny hole and we throw enough dynamite down there. Something will happen.

There’s my fear is that the dyno just collapsed this more here, but robertson has a license in this. This is what he does so, hopefully he can figure out a way after looking at this, one of my main tasks over the next month is trying to get into the omega tunnel, whether that’s through dynamite or everything else, because if we can get into the portal There, then that should, as you see, lead right in to the main union mine and connect everywhere, basically to put into perspective how big the omega tunnel is. All this waste and tailing is from the omega tunnel, which is just up there and then, interestingly, that big parallel there, that’s the bouillon tunnel, the other one that potentially could get into the 200.

Turn on the old gas detector get in there so. So so as you go, this thing here is huge: It’s like this cavern that could hold the hotel easily in it. Look how big this is: damn. This isn’t the way to the potential 400 levels. I’m not going to do much more back here, but this thing is at least 30 40 feet tall just dug out. We got collapsed too. I stopped when I was over here because I didn’t have the proper gear, but now looking at this, I went down here. that’s good to know that doesn’t really go into the mine, but over here is interesting, where if I were to follow the bouillon tunnel, does it connect to the 400?

I mean it kind of looks like it does and then, if the 400 could I somehow get down to the 200 through the bouillon tunnel, now we’re back in the straight away section which, if the map is correct, will dead end somewhere and potentially Lead to ladders, down to the 200 level, looks like There’s some claps out of us, though so all right. I think this might be it see the more ladders down there. I think if I just ladder down, There’s a can over there or something you keep laddering down it might get to the 200. that’s that’s! Not today’s adventure. I’m gonna need to bring somebody with me and a bunch more rope, but It’s out there There’s potentially a way into the 200 here which is really exciting, so stay tuned for that, and so all this is unexplored pretty much.

So I think, over the coming month or months it looks like our best bets to get in are the omega. If I can open it up with some dynamite um the bouillon tunnel, which would be interesting, you know I obviously have to get way back here and hope that actually connects, because that would open up everything and then the safeguard and the safeguard I’ve been to every Corner so I don’t think you can get in you’d have to blast or something, but those are the options.

This is the main union mine and There’s so many more mines around the property. So that’s a little update on the explorations and what there is to go. we’re on the back side of the property now overlooking death valley. This is probably my second favorite place to come for sunset. You know I have my one spot. that’s easy to go to this one’s a little bit more of a trek, but It’s crazy. You know behind me is death valley to the lowest peak in the continental u.s and, if I’m looking over this way, I see mount Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the u.s, and that high low balance is something that I don’t know just blows my mind.

Every time, but I think the other main lesson I’ve learned during this month is you know the more time I spend up at Cerro Gordo the easier it is to live there. You find the processes the ways to get by, and so I hope over the coming months each month I make it a little bit easier to live there and helps me get a little bit more done each month, I’m liking making these videos for you guys.

So I gotta say thank you so much for checking them out. As always, It’s kind of become my little community. You know my way of interacting when no one’s around just you know commenting back on people on youtube. So, thank you guys for checking out these videos. Thank you to everybody that subscribed leave a comment below you know. If you bought anything from the store, uh or support the patreon, it just means so much and it helps bring this town back to life. I’m gonna call tonight I’m signing out here at Cerro Gordo, but I will see you guys next week.

Jason Smith

Former Marine, IT Guy & Builder of Websites.  I have 5 US states left to visit. I enjoy hot springs, adventures, hiking, photography, sci-fi, wine, coffee & whiskey.  I am fluent in sarcasm, name that tune, & speak in movie quotes.  I spend most of my time building websites, fixing computers, metal detecting, magnet fishing and gaming occasionally.

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