A Historic Ghost Town in California Is Up for Sale

Nolan Nitschke
Nolan Nitschke

For just shy of $1 million, a ghost town in California’s majestic Inyo Mountains could be yours. Cerro Gordo, a 19th-century mining town that served as the “silver thread” to Los Angeles, is now up for sale via Bishop Real Estate in Bishop, California.

Located in Owens Valley near the town of Lone Pine, the $925,000 property comes with over 300 acres of land, mineral rights, and no shortage of peace and quiet. There are 22 structures on site, including a historic hotel, bunkhouse, saloon, chapel, and museum—plus all of the artifacts that come with it. 

“The site has been extremely well protected from diggers, artifact looters, and Mother Nature herself,” reads the listing, posted on a website specially created for the property that's aptly named ghosttownforsale.com. “Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings, and the rest are in a state of protected arrested decay.”

The town of Cerro Gordo has been privately owned for decades, but the family who owns it “felt it was the right time to sell it,” real estate agent Jake Rasmuson tells Mental Floss. No conditions are attached to the purchase of the property, but Rasmuson says “one would hope that some of the history would be maintained and that it would still be open to the public.”

Walking tours of the property can be booked via Cerro Gordo’s website, and those will continue to be offered until the property is sold. The listing was just posted online a week ago, but Rasmuson said the property has already received “quite a bit of interest,” mostly from history lovers who have visited the site before.

Cerro Gordo, meaning “Fat Hill,” received its name from Mexican miners who combed through the area in search of silver before it became a commercial mine, according to the town's website. In 1865, a prospector named Pablo Flores started a mining operation at the nearby Buena Vista Peak. It didn’t take long for word to spread, and within two years prospectors were flocking to Cerro Gordo.

A businessman named Mortimer Belshaw is the man who really put the town on the map, though. In 1868, he brought the first batch of silver to Los Angeles and later built a toll road to supply the burgeoning industry. Within a year, the mine was the largest producer of silver and lead in California. 

“If you look at the history of Cerro Gordo, it was really instrumental in the expansion of Los Angeles,” Rasmuson says. One of structures on the Cerro Gordo property—the Belshaw bunkhouse—still carries on his legacy.

It wasn’t until the 1880s that the mine was finally abandoned after being hit by a fire and falling silver prices. (However, mining operations were revived in 1905 and continued for a couple of decades.) 

The town may be peaceful now, but it wasn’t always so. In the 1860s and ’70s, the town saw a murder per week, according to a Los Angeles Times article from 2006 about the restoration of the property. The property’s late owner, Michael Patterson, told the newspaper that the only sound for miles around “is the whistle of the wind blowing through all the bullet holes in every building up here."

For those who aren't afraid of ghosts, this little slice of Wild West paradise might just be the perfect place to live. Keep scrolling to see more photos and a video of the property.

The Cerro Gordo property
Nolan Nitschke

The Cerro Gordo property
Nolan Nitschke

A former church
Nolan Nitschke

Inside the saloon
Nolan Nitschke

Learn Travel Blogging, Novel Writing, Editing, and More With This $30 Creative Writing Course Bundle

Centre of Excellence
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This Livestream of Brasov, Transylvania, Is Great for Virtual Vampire-Watching

The vampires of What We Do in the Shadows are more likely to be found in Pennsylvania than Transylvania—but you never know.
The vampires of What We Do in the Shadows are more likely to be found in Pennsylvania than Transylvania—but you never know.
© 2020, FX Networks

If vampires were real, they would best be viewed from a distance. That makes a livestream of Brasov, Transylvania—a.k.a. Dracula's hometown—the ideal set up for vampire-watching.

According to Thrillist, this stream from Webcam Taxi provides a 24/7 look at Brasov's Old Town neighborhood. It's worth checking out just for the scenic view: You can see famous buildings like the 17th-century Black Church, with the Carpathian Mountains hedging the scene. For viewers more interested in the region's spooky reputation, the town is also home Bran Castle—one of the inspirations for Dracula's dwelling.

While researching his Gothic vampire novel at The British Museum, author Bram Stoker was struck by the Romanian landmark. His book describes Dracula's dwelling as sitting "on the very edge of a terrible precipice"—a characteristic it shares with the real-life castle just outside Brasov. The site is a tourist destination today, hosting tours and the occasional costume party. The attraction is currently closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, which makes a virtual visit to Brasov especially appealing.

The Brasov cam streams around the clock, but serious vampire-spotters should wait until after sundown to make the most of the experience. This is one of several webcams for people with high patience levels and an interest in the supernatural. After vampire-hunting from home, see if you can spot Nessie in this Loch Ness livestream.