Friday, December 9, 2011


The area around Ridgecrest saw lots of mining activity around the turn of the last century. There are remnants of this former boom all over the surrounding desert. Randsburg serves as a "living ghost town" and a tourist draw--but in a small way. The main street is just a few blocks long, and the various emporiums are mostly open only on weekends. The locals are friendly, and the vibe is very low-key.

At "Randsburg Inn, Lodging/Antiques," we scored an original Woodstock typewriter--significant because Bill's mother once worked at that typewriter factory in Illinois. Woodstock typewriters are not that easy to find. This one was on the porch and completely rusted out, but it was ours for $5 and a warning, "Make sure there aren't any black widow spiders in there!"

The General Store is the local gathering place--if you have questions about anything, someone in there might have the answer. There's drinks, food, and memorabilia, too.

Our primary destination was the Randsburg Museum, where we were looking for items related to my relatives who lived in the area between 1898-1909. We were in luck: above, a photo of the Croesus Mine in Johannesburg, the next town over. My great-grandfather, Walter Macomber, came out to California to work as an engineer at this mine, which was owned by my great-grandmother's uncle, W. W. Godsmark.

Above: the Johannesburg Hotel, 1898. Godsmark became part owner of this hotel in 1900. It remained open for some years--Edna Brush Perkins, author of "The White Heart of Mojave," stayed there in 1920 on her Mojave adventure.

If you have any interest in these old mining towns, Randsburg and especially the Randsburg Museum are well worth a visit.