Rand District Cemetery: Memorials and Minerals

Collected at Rand District Cemetery are the final resting places of some five generations of dream chasers, miners, merchants, ranchers, freighters, madams, promoters, vigilantes, teachers, movers and shakers, loafers and busy bodies; most from somewhere else, from all over the world, all brought here by the winds of fortune, and caught, like nuggets, in holes in the ground.

Burro Schmidt, famous for digging a half mile tunnel through a solid granite mountain for 38 years, left his beloved town only twice in his lifetime. Little did he know as happenstance would have it that years after his death a widow by the name of Tonie would pay the ultimate tribute to the miner by protecting his legacy for the rest of her life, and spending eternity next to his grave…

Just what keeps the memory of this old town alive more than a century after it was born in the midst of the mining boom of the 19th Century?

Walk down Butte Avenue and, in the middle of the block, you will surely find the answer at the Rand Desert Museum.

Founded in 1943 and given over to Kern County in 1948, the museum is the heart and soul of the old town.

When Kern County couldn’t bear the expense of maintaining the museum, it was given back to Randsburg proper.

To this day it is run by the residents of the Rand Mining District.

Even more that a hundred years later, there remains life in these hallowed hills.

This year, the 16th Annual Old West Day took place right on the main drag thru town, Butte Avenue.

I like big buttes, I cannot lie…

Within two months of Holcomb’s discovery of gold in 1859, a town called Belleville sprang into existence at the entrance into Holcomb Valley, near the upper part of Van Dusen Canyon. It had a collection of stores, saloons, dance halls, and blacksmith shops. In 1860, the Wild West town lost its bid for county seat by a mere two votes.

Charles Wilbur was the first tax assessor in San Bernardino County. He was also a gold placer miner who lived in the area around the mid to late 1800s. He was well liked among his fellow miners who lived in the area and they voted for him to organize the miners and the boundary stones. Before he died he asked to be buried by his favorite pond, Wilbur’s Pond, and they did as he asked…

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