You'll soon be able to stay in this historic California ghost town
Assign to Google Classroom
Cerro Gordo is in California. It is a ghost town. It was put up for sale. That happened this summer. That's according to Travel + Leisure. It has two new owners. One is Brent Underwood. He owns a backpacker hostel. It is in Austin. That is in Texas. The other owner is his business partner. His name is Jon Bier. They say they plan to rebuild the 22 buildings left standing. They plan to add 21st-century accommodations. One of those is Wi-Fi.
They also plan to add more basic necessities. One example is running water. Underwood tells NBC4 that their hope is “to maintain the historical nature of the property and respect the piece of history.”
Cerro Gordo was once California’s largest producer of silver and lead. That was during its heyday. It was home to some 4,800 people. They lived there the 1860s and 1870s. It was a bustling mining town. It proved itself to be a money-making town. But it had a lot of crime.
Then the mine shut down. Cerro Gordo transformed. It became a ghost town. This happened by the early 20th century.
It is still abandoned. The only visitors are tourists. They trek through the area to glimpse a relic of the Wild West.
Underwood and Bier will acquire more than 300 acres of land. It is in Owens Valley. It is south of the Sierra Nevada. The price was a cool $925,000. It included the mineral rights. It also include the 22 structures. There is a hotel. There is a bunkhouse. There is a superintendent’s house. There are also several homes. These still stand on the property. That was according to a website set up for the property.
“The site has been extremely well protected from diggers, artifact looters and Mother Nature herself,” the listing read. “Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings. The rest are in a state of protected arrested decay.”
The U.S. Army forcibly removed the native Paiute people. They inhabited Owens Valley. This sent them south of Bakersfield. They went to Fort Tejon. A prospector named Pablo Flores is recorded as discovering the area’s high-quality silver veins. Flores began mining and smelting operations in 1865.
The town was called Cerro Gordo. This means “Fat Hill.” This was in reference to its abundance of silver. It really took off after the businessman Mortimer Belshaw arrived on the scene. That was in 1868. He brought the first wagonload of silver from Cerro Gordo to Los Angeles. Cerro Gordo came to be known as a “silver thread” to the city. He built a “superior smelter as well as the first wagon road up the mountain.” That's according to Cerro Gordo’s website.
Cerro Gordo became the sort of place that gave the Wild West its reputation. That was after gun-slinging workers flocked to the town.
“There was no genteel side of life here. There were no schools or churches. But Cerro Gordo had its charms.”
But in the late 1870s activity in the town came to a halt. This was due to the falling price of silver. It was coupled by a devastating fire. It ripped through Cerro Gordo’s mine. Mining operations were started again in 1905. That's when Cerro Gordo was bought by the Great Western Ore Purchasing and Reduction Company. But the revival was short-lived. By 1920, only 10 men were employed in the mines.
The tumbleweed town has been owned by members of a single family for the past few decades. They felt it was “the right time” to sell the site. That was according to Jake Rasmuson. He works for Bishop Real Estate. It facilitated the sale of the property.
The former owners ran tours of Cerro Gordo. These continued to operate until the town was sold. Underwood and Bier will decide if they will continue the tours.
Rasmuson told Annabel Fenwick Elliott of the Telegraph that the former owners didn't place any restrictions on the purchase of the property. They hoped that the new buyers would appreciate Cerro Gordo’s rich history.