In the Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2015 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Keeler, Lone Pine, California
See the map below!
Great Ghost Town to visit. Nice to know there is a caretaker living there that is keeping this place alive. Don't forget to take some extra water and canned food with you to help out with his cause.
Cerro Gordo, on the western slope of the Inyo Mountains is about seven miles east of Keeler and thirty miles south of Independence and was the first major silver strike in Owens Valley. Long before the area was developed, Mexicans had been crawling the mountain they called Cerro Gordo, meaning "Fat Hill", looking for silver. However, an early group was attacked by Indians and three of the five prospectors were killed. Two were held captive and when they were released, were required to promise never to return. However, after Fort Independence was established and the Indian activity subsided, the Mexicans came back about 1862.
Cerro Gordo Topography Map
The original discovery of rich veins of silver was made by a man named Pablo Flores who began mining and smelting operations near the summit of Buena Vista Peak in 1865. In April, 1866, the mine was included in the Lone Pine Mining District organized in April, 1866. By 1867, tales of the silver at Cerro Gordo had spread, bringing in flocks of new prospectors.
By 1869, Americans had taken over the property and ultimately turned it into the largest producer of silver and lead in California, yielding ores that assayed at least as high as $300 per ton. In the early 1870's, two smelters were erected at Cerro Gordo and one on Owens Lake near the rival town of Swansea. Contributing to Cerro Gordo's commercial success was the fact that the area was excellent for smelting works -- water and wood were abundant, good fire-clay was available, and because of the wide variety of ores in the district, necessary fluxes were obtainable. Productive mines of the area were the historic Union Mine, and the later Cerro Gordo, Cerro Gordo Extension, Estelle, Silver Reef, and Santa Rosa mines.
IMPORTANT: If you are planning a trip to Cerro Gordo you need to know that the ghost town is all private property and has a caretaker. His name is Robert. The road through town is on plublic land, so seeing the town is always possible, but if you want to stay and look around - please call Robert 1-760-876-5030 and talk to him about seeing the whole town. There is an old hotel and bar and Robert is a very nice accomodating person. He is always in need of water, canned goods and coffee. Small price to pay for a great host! This informtion is courtesy of Nick Moody and Mike Schriber.