Amboy Cemetery: Dust in the Wind

When Roy’s Hotel is not ground zero for multiple thriller film shoots or welcoming the throngs of dusty tourists getting their fair share of the Route 66 experience, the quiet of Amboy settles in all around.

The solitude is so profound it’s almost deafening. The peace of the ghost town with its long-abandoned St. Raymond Church and nearby pioneer graveyard consumes you. It invites you to explore and renew.

Give yourself time to absorb this little time capsule of a town and its cemetery just a bit east on Route 66…

Deputy Will Smithson and men like Ed Silver lived in Daggett at a time when the west was supposed to have been tamed, when it had become civilized, you might say.

Unfortunately, the news of civilization seemed to have bypassed Daggett, and to locals and drifters alike, the Wild West was doing just fine the way it was, thank you.

Justice was going to be meted out in the tradition of the west if the angry mob caught up with Silver.

A rope and a tree waited for the former Buffalo Soldier, unless the sheriff could catch him first…

Take a short walk on this quiet mountain trail, surrounded by pines and open spaces, and you see it up ahead. White crosses in a semi-circle, around the gnarled truck of a tree. So, what have you stumbled into here? Well, give us a minute or two and we’ll tell you about the mountain town that refused to live.

Here, just above the highway, are about 25 marked graves in the little cemetery that served the town mining town known as Doble. The names of those interred here, except for one child, are a mystery. crosses were placed here by Boy Scouts during the 1940s.

Before it was Doble, the place was known as “Bairdstown.” It came to life after the brothers Carter filed four gold mining claims in 1873, on the mountainside that now wears their name. The utterance of the word ‘gold’ was usually all it took, and the rush was on, probably before the brothers finished unpacking their picks and shovels…

Calico’s reputation as a ghost town is well deserved as there are numerous reports of actual ghosts being sighted. Lucy Bell King Lane, a longtime resident who ran Lucy Lane’s General Store has often been seen in her store.

Margaret Olivier, the last schoolteacher, has been seen teaching in her classroom. Tourists who have talked with Margaret thought she was part of the staff dressed in period costumes, only to find out she has been dead since 1932. There is even the ghost story of Dorsey, the shepherd dog that carried the US Mail between various mines.

Was that really the howling wind that woke us up at 3 a.m. at our Calico campsite, or was it Lucy Lane?

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…

Like so many pioneer towns in the Mojave Desert established by necessity for its connection to the railroads, Ludlow Cemetery is serenaded by the rumble of frequent trains.

The cemetery appears to have approximately 50 visible graves. All but three are marked by wooden crosses with no information. Only seven grave sites have been identified.

Ludlow was founded in 1882, brought about by the establishment of the Southern Pacific Railroad until May 4, 1897 when it became the Santa Fe Railway.

This was the main line and connection with Los Angeles…

Admit it. If you’ve traveled on the I-40 or Route 66, you’ve stopped for ice cream or gasoline. Maybe a corn dog.

The tiny ghost town of Ludlow, California is just off these long stretches of roads. You can’t miss it and if you do, you have miles to go before you can turn around.

We think Ludlow is the perfect little desert spot in the middle of nowhere. Ludlow is home to quite a few abandoned ramshackle houses and countless rusted cannibalized vintage cars. Ludlow even has its own pioneer cemetery. Like many ghost towns, what Ludlow has the most of is a wealth of history.

You could say Ludlow has it all…

Driving along Pearblossom Highway (Hwy 138), it’s just you and maybe a few hundred cars and trucks passing by in both directions. Perhaps lost in thought, or just concentrating on surviving the drive, you look ahead and the roadway becomes a beacon to place unknown to most people, even though they may pass it every day. You’re approaching the ruins. Soon, you will know what others don’t. The history of a failed dream. Welcome to the Socialist community of Llano Del Rio…

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.”

—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Perhaps no dusty desert town from the 19th Century exemplified Steinbeck’s quote better than Daggett, California. Shootouts, saloons, hangings and frontier justice, the old town had it all, and so much more…

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