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The ‘living ghost town’ of Randsburg yields rich mining history, a relaxed vibe — and timeless hospitality By Mark Sedenquist
40 | Desert
Companion | February2013
It’s 6:25 a.m., windy, and cold. I’m not sure how cold, exactly, but it’s sufficiently chilly that I’ve put my camera under my shirt to keep the batteries warm. The only creature out and about is the scruffy dog guarding The Joint, the saloon across the street from where I’m waiting for the sun to light up the picturesque façade of the general store. Why am I out here alone on the main street of Randsburg at dawn? Like thousands before me, I’m hunting for gold. The only difference is, I’m after the kind that reflects on windows for a few fleeting moments at sunrise. My predecessors were seeking the other, more durable variety. A number of them found it, too, making this erstwhile boomtown the heart of one of the richest mining districts in California.
The general store in downtown Randsburg, California
These days, I’m not the only one taking a short detour off Highway 395 to discover and photograph Randsburg’s charms. While only a handful of hearty souls call this “living ghost town” home, winter is the ideal season for soaking up the gold rush ambience the residents have worked hard to preserve and are proud to showcase. Nestled in the hills a little more than 200 miles from Las Vegas and about 20 miles south of Ridgecrest, Randsburg offers a unique weekend retreat for Southern Nevadans. Not only can visitors tour the museum, check out old mining operations, and browse the shops and galleries that line the main street, they can also leave the 21st century behind in a couple of other ways. While Verizon cell phone service is available up
p h oto : m a r k s e d e n q u i s t
The sleepy vibe of Randsburg belies a ghost town rich in history.
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