Touring An Abandoned Ghost Town (Cerro Gordo)


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Today we take a tour of Cerro Gordo Ghost Town, the abandoned mining town I bought with some friends and investors. I’m now living up here full time alone and documenting my journey. Please subscribe for more!

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My name is Brent and with my friend Jon, I purchased the former mining town of “Cerro Gordo” this past July 13th (Friday the 13th). Since the Coronavirus outbreak, I’ve moved from Austin, Texas up to the town and I’m living alone in this abandoned ghost town trying to make it into a place for more people to enjoy.

Sometimes it’s beautiful and amazing, sometimes it’s terrifying and the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I grew up in the flatlands of Florida, so this is all new territory for me.

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.

You can follow along with us on Instagram here:
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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.

All right: well, the trek to Cerro Gordo actually starts down. Here we are at the beginning of Cerro Gordo Road. I can’t wait to show you guys around the town. We’re gonna look in a bunch of the buildings. Go places nobody’s ever seen before, maybe find some artifacts give you a little bit of history of the town, just finding the different artifacts from around town holy. This whole wall was here almost nobody has seen upstairs of the saloon. We are headed way up there, beautiful scenery and a giant Dust Bowl. They used to be Owens Lake Keeler.

The time you see right there used to be a very important town in the mining. The silver would come out of. Cerro gordo go down there be shipped across the lake and then trained in los angeles, but since the lake dried up so did Keeler in a lot of ways. So we are a headed up all right, so we are right at the entrance of Cerro Gordo. So this is after the seven mile road. This is right. What you can first see the town. The first building you see on the right is the hunters cabin and that’s where Robert stays, so it has the best view in the town. It overlooks the road there’s. Even a sensor in there that lets Robert know when somebody’s coming up the road, so nobody can come up unannounced as you look that way, you see the saloon and the American hotel. that’s so.

What’s the second building you’ll see in town with the old ice house right next to it closer to the center of town, that’s the general store or the museum. I’ve been cleaning up recently right next to that the old mechanic’s garage. It’s now a church or movie theater to the left of that the bunkhouse and above that is the Bell Sean, the Gordon, which you can’t really see then way up there kind of above those hills. that’s what the hoist houses – that’s the main mineshaft and you can’t see the main mine when you first come to town It’s behind this tailing piles, but we’ll go up there and check that out.

As you look past down this road over, that way is the saddle towards Newtown and towards Death Valley, so that’s kind of the outline of the town as you’re walking into it. We are here in a very messy bunkhouse. It’s a current project of working out and ripping up carpet the last couple days and howling a bunch of dust as well, but I think one thing that’s crazy I haven’t touched on yet is why you know why buy an abandoned ghost town, our from any Major city with no running water – and I think what we want to do – the property is just create an overnight destination. You know, create a outpost where people can come stay.

You know stay for the weekend and a long weekend, three or four days experience the history of the town. The history of the town is so rich and interesting and then also just experience the natural beauty here. Every building here has a view of Mount Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the continental, United States and off the back of the property. Just over there. You can see all of Death Valley’s, you see all the lowest peak in the US. So to me this is this is just such an important and interesting place that I would just love to allow more people to experience it and experience it firsthand.

You know There’s other ghost towns, but a lot of those are stuff kind of like museums where It’s like look but don’t touch here. I want people to be able to stay in the Bello shell house. You know stay in the house that the original founder of this town built himself and lived in you know, stay in the Gordon house, stay in the house of the guy that brought 20 years of prosperity to the town after everybody thought that it was done. You know stay in the saloon, stay in that building that an infamous gunfight happen and There’s still a bullet hole and blood stain on the wall.

Those are just experiences that to me, you can’t get anywhere else and I’d love to be able to share them. You know it seems a bit selfish just to hold this town and myself. So what we’d love to do is just get into that point and we’re not do There’s a lot of work between where it is now and accepting overnight guests. You know we’re still figuring out the water issue, still cleaning up a lot of fairly dangerous stuff, I’m still working on some different permits and things of the county. So we’re not there yet. But that’s why I’m up here! that’s why I’m you know putting in the work every day to try to get it to that place sooner.

It’s something that I think a lot of money into and I need to at least have it breaking, even which it hasn’t been recently, and so that’s the plan for it. You know It’s to kind of create this artistic outpost, an area that people would come and enjoy so right now, There’s about 22 buildings left at Cerro, Gordo and they’re in various states, ranging from amazing. You know structurally sound something that just needs a little bit of shine and could probably be rented out to structurally sound, but certainly needs a lot of work to basically just the shells of their former self, so project number one for us right now is the Gordon House and the Gordon house is a house that was originally built for mr Gordon – and he is somebody that brought zinc to Cerro Gordo and the building itself is located pretty much in the center of town and what we’re trying to do with this building is create one of the first buildings that we’re gonna Airbnb.

So until we can have a full-blown hospitality resort, we’re gonna try to use this kind of test. The waters show some people at Sarah waters about and give them a taste we bought the place. This portrait is filled with junk just stuff. As far as you can look, so even sometimes removing things, It’s a big battle, but using this house just unparalleled. This is the house that if we have people coming to stay, you know friends and family we usually put up in here. It’s closest to being in good shape, It’s most comfortable, It’s the largest house at Cerro Gordo, and the views are just incredible.

Oh no yep, I think, looks like we lost a window. I was wondering why it looked so clear out there well Brett, because There’s no window views even better. Now, anyways there is a bathroom here which is just beautiful, with kind of the clawfoot tub a lot of dead bees. There’s a bee nest in the bugs and live bees got a real bee problem. This bathroom, apparently I like that the project list little living room over here is the second bedroom downstairs, which again just has stunning views about Whitney you’ll upstairs. Oh, she could do that edit, like on cribs, where they speed up here this bedroom, as if you pretty much the talent center she’s, pretty nice walk back down this hallway and find just a beautiful restroom.

The claw. This is one of those rooms that we just don’t have to do anything to, because this is exactly how it should be so we’re hoping that our view this house – It’s not going there. Yet we did add running water, which is a big feat, but it still needs to be a little more comfortable, so I’ll be still 20 reason right here right now, It’s very difficult to eat upstairs, but we helped out this online in a month or two and Depending on how the coronavirus thing goes, this could be the first place.

You come and stay. If you visit us here, the second house we hope to get on Airbnb is the fellow shot house and the bellow shot house, the house directly behind me, the house that I typically stay in It’s a two-bedroom one-bath, It’s in pretty good shape. You know It’s where I typically stay, so I try to keep it a little nice all right. So this is project 2 or 3 that I’ve been working on for the past couple weeks and it is church building. It wasn’t originally Church, There’s actually a maintenance garage, but the former owner out of that steeple and that stained glass is from a Steve, McQueen movie called Nevada Smith and a week or two ago.

This thing was just full of wood. You know you can see some of it here still, but it was floor-to-ceiling just essentially junk. So past number one was just clearing out all the stuff, those in there and that project took a long time but uh pretty pleased with the results. So far as you can see, the former owner just put these movie theater type seats in here and so back to the zero protection box. So one day we hope to create this as a place where people can come. We can screen movies.

You know a ten in the senator town, maybe we’ll even create a contest, but if you will come teams film videos on site and then we screen the results here, but this building is one of the projects we’ve been working on over the next few months. If you go into the backyard, this backyard is where the juices store all sorts of junk. You know it had again, probably four foot high of scrap metal and stuff, but a lot of work cleared out this yard. I hope to build a deck back here. Eventually, I’ve got a visitor look. Is that hey race?

This is the American Hotel and American Hotel is kind of the crown jewel of Cerro Gordo. It’s a place that everybody loves. It’s one of the first buildings you see when you come into town. It was originally built in 1871 and so go in there. You organize, as you can tell some pitch. So when you go in the first things you see is the saloon. This is one of the favorite places of mine here at Cerro. Gordo to place only have friends, family anybody that comes up in visits. This is where we usually entertain. It has the infamous card room that still has a bullet hole in the wall and a blood stain on the floor. that’s the hole, Let’s not like this hand and that’s the blood stain, but almost nobody has seen upstairs of the saloon in the old hotel. It’s a spot that essentially nobody’s allowed in the stairs, are pretty dangerous but count when the next projects I’m working on.

So I figured I’d, give you guys a shot what’s going on up here, as you come up to the right, There’s two rooms that were used as bed and breakfast rooms, even in the early 90s, so they’re not in too bad shape. This one actually leaked out to the porch of the hotel, just a beautiful view, but where I’ve been working is back here and this room just a number of days ago was stuffed with crap. On top of it, it had. They had nailed down wood with these annoying nails like this and they put carpet squares on top of that so step, one was just taking out those squares and stuff. Today, I’m gonna try to stain it. You know this wood is beautiful, but just needs a little more color and something to seal it a little bit.

So I’m going to try out a couple a couple: colors, never sealed anything in my life. So It’s not like. I know what I’m doing but could be interesting, and then next after that tackle this. Basically everything I brought out of here went in here. This is a another large room. These tubes are drafting all sorts of stuff. It’s funny. If you look at the old old owner’s books, There’s stuff like tax loopholes, hopefully over time, you want to show you a lot better spot, but today we’re going to stain so we’re here at the infamous bunk house where, for the past few days, I’ve been ripping Up carpet – and so It’s a bit of a mess right now, but let me bring you into my least favorite building, so this is the kitchen.

This is where the haunting happened. I saw that curtain open and closed face coming out, but you know I’ve made my peace of this building. There was a lot of just terrible Brown carpet in here that just attracted dust, and I was told when we purchased it. The floor was terrible, underneath it unusable and the floor in the hallway is, admittedly, not the best, but It’s workable, and then you go into the rooms beautiful hardwood, a little sanding staining on that, so so much better than brown carpet. The building itself has seven rooms.

There’s four on either side, but they made this middle room a kind of den with a fireplace there used to be a couch there that I almost ripped my finger off getting out of here. It’s gone now. I’m gonna burn it. So I’m gonna sand. These floors and then stain them. I haven’t stained much of my life, but I think It’s gonna really bring out a lot. Oh, this is a very light stain, so you can still see the grain in the wood and this is where Creepo lived before he murdered. Somebody had to go on the run, but now it was generally used for an antique store. So It’s got different things that Robert made souvenirs from the town in a long-term.

I don’t know if we keep. This is a store thing. We merge this into. The general store maybe make this into another cabin, but for now It’s got all sorts of just old stuff in it, Dahle Shaw’s, Cook’s, house dog saw was successful enough to have his own cook and he lived right next to the doll Shaw house, and so this Is a little house, It’s a little one-bedroom cabin kind of in the north-central part of town is the old assay office. So this is where a test of the quality of the mineral is being pulled out of Cerro Gordo right next to it is some of the standing structure from Lola’s Palace of pleasure and so Lola Travis, the town. Madam.

This is one of our old brothels. I guess I’m just kind of cool: Let’s go in here. It’s been a ton of work on the general store. Recently, It’s one that even come weeks, we can even walk in after cleaning out a lot curating some of the old stuff up here, he’s looking pretty good, so I think the long term vision of this guy at the general store – maybe loss of souvenirs in here – For sale as you walk back to the back room, this was completely storage. To is its furniture mainly, but they had these ole display cases, and so just finding the different artifacts from around town and putting them on display here. So you’ll get a sense of what happened in this town.

You know even that old canteen, different items, old, workbench, bunch of old guns and knives that were found in the property. I mean look at thing: that’s crazy cap guns, obviously, but It’s not done yet, but making a lot of progress back tears. We’re really happy about how the museum / general store is coming together. You know: look at this furnace, that’s crazy! There we go through a whole process of knocking down some samples into little cones, like this pinching off the end, with the tools such as this, they go down pinch off the end, put the sample and something like this. This made out of bone and then melt it to test the purity and these crucibles.

Yes, look. 1875. Some of these crucibles are so old and so cool, but when they melted it down back in the day when they would ship it, There’s shipping ingots like this, and I believe this is what 50 pounds maybe 70 pounds and they would stamp us that way. You know if you got caught with a bar, that’s at Cerro Gordo and you weren’t supposed to have Cerro Gordo you’re in some big trouble. So that’s why they would stamp that on their crucible is back in NASA office and It’s cool. You know cuz, It’s uh! This is a town that was responsible for close to half a billion dollars of minerals, and it would help build Los Angeles and a lot of miners.

Hopes and dreams came to life or died right here in this office. So It’s an important part of the town’s history. It stands pretty much in the center of the town. They call this the Widowmaker because used to bore into the mountain Lou this to then pack, the dynamite and the dust coming out would not do so good on your health. What are their outhouses have a window in the back for the perfect view of Mount Whitney. None other that I know, but that’s a special little part of Cerro Gordo. We are at the top of Cerro Gordo.

We are at the main hoist house, and this is where the main union mineshaft was so the hole that made Cerro Gordo, Cerro, Gordo and the building. It’s pretty big. It’s one that even when people take tours and not allowed to come up here, just because It’s inherently dangerous, I mean There’s a hole inside this building that goes 1,300 feet directly down. So obviously we don’t people ain’t near that, but before we go in there, this little building up to the side was the miners shower room and It’s not quite as sweet as it sounds that they had a shower room for the miners.

It was yes to get clean, but also to make sure that the miners weren’t hiding anything as far as silver in their hair or in their pockets or anything. So that was just off the main mind. Building head on into the hoist house, It’s one as soon as you enter a reveal is pretty quick, that is the Union mineshaft, and that is the mine. That is the cart that goes 1,300 feet under the ground, supported by that hoist that you see down there and It’s called the hoist house for that reason. But, as you can see very unsafe, this cart right here, don’t feel underneath.

There’s tons of cold air coming and It’s not one that loves standing on just because I mean right there. If I were to, if I were to drop my sunglasses right now right there, they go at 1,300 feet down and there we go back but anyways. The might the coal don’t worry, used to come up through there on or carts will stand on this and hope we don’t die, and then it would go on this track and this track would go around and it would go to a processing station just outside those Doors where it would be sorted, potentially refined or sent on buckets down the hill into Keillor.

The track is still here. They have to think that this track. You look at that hole. There’s levels of these tracks every hundred feet, There’s another level to the mine and each level as these tracks, so they would blast back into the mountain pull the stuff out, put it on the carts. Put it on this Cup. This thing right here and bring it up, so this K just held something like 500 million dollars worth of. Minerals have come up right through that cart, but as you can see, the building’s huge It’s one that is gonna be beautiful, but it needs a ton of work. You know who knows one day.

Maybe this is a brewery or a banquet hall, but for now it just kind of sits here. You can’t see it from the main town core and It’s too big a project to even think about tackling for now, so we’re essentially just leaving this, as is nobody, really comes up here, but it has this beautiful machinery like look at this Ingerson r and I Believe this is a hundred and ten horsepower. I like how big it used to have to be to be 110 horsepower and that thing used to bring the cable up and down until they replaced it with a slightly smaller one. But It’s just this beautiful machinery that one day I would love to. You know clean all the rest of the stuff out of this building believe those machineries I mean Ollie.

I could take it anywhere anyways, but just clean it up a little bit or this old smelter that has 1890 right on it. It’s just such a beautiful thing Ivan back here in over a year, so I can’t even really fully remember oh yeah. There used to be is kind of one of the old smelters or furnaces. I mean obviously the nice wood storage for quite some time. Oh holy, this whole wall was here. Oh there used to be a wall here as of a month ago. Oh man. Well, that’s a lot more light and for you to see, but that’s not a project I had signed up for man, it sucks. Yeah looks like you can, I suppose, having so much snow sitting up there. They just pushed it over. You look at electrical wire yeah. that’s recent: It’s not too heavy will help.

I can get it back up. We are now at an undisclosed location at Cerro, Gordo undisclosed, because in this rock right there that door leads to the dynamite vault. So there is dynamite stored on property. It’s illegal to tell people where it is, but that is what the door looks like and has just carved directly into this rock, which is pretty crazy when you think about it, that’s it dynamite do not enter so, if that’s the main town there as you walk This way the property keeps going because the road that’s leading towards Death Valley, Death Valley’s, are just in the distance there and the property itself. It’s pretty expansive down there. You can’t quite see it is the little cabin I’ve been working on the new town, cabin and the property goes probably about to that spot.

You can see. I’m gonna. Take you down the road. Just give you a little better perspective. You know one day I mean this is far off, but It’s so much more heavily wooded over there be beautiful to start something like a campground other things. You know they’d have to all be off the grid, just because There’s no power over there, but It’s beautiful over there as I come to show you and new towns a spot where a lot of the miners work or live, particularly the Chinese miners, and a lot Of the time houses over there weren’t necessarily made of wood, they were made of stone, so these little roads, you see, lead up to old houses that are actually built out of caves.

So There’s a cave over there that just has a door on it and that was somebody’s house There’s a little bed back in there. There’s got your old tailings from other mines, but this is the back side of Cerro Gordo I’ll. Take you down a little ways. You can see how far it goes should have been. A cowboy should have been a cowboy. So here we are at take a property border. Let’s take a peek, oh so here I mean you can’t even see it anymore, but trust me that the property way back up there with this area, I mean imagine just having these small campsites where you just come camp, be peaceful. Have you like that?

I mean I’m so old, so that’s gonna be a wrap, but I hope you like looking around Cerro Gordo. This is the peak. This is where I come about thirty minutes before the Sun sets to just reflect on the day. It’s beautiful I’ve, just I’ve never experienced anything like this. I hope you share with you guys one day, but until then I’m gonna keep making videos please subscribe to this channel if you’re liking. These you know the support so far has been amazing. It’s been something that I never would have expected, but till then I’m signing out – and I guess I’ll see you next time

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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