Death Valley to Taft

Part II - Ballarat

Me in front of Fred Grey's Old Cabin in Ballarat

Seldom Seen Slim, Walter Sorensen, Chris Wicht & Fred Grey

More Info On Ballarat

Ahhh, Ballarat. When you want to camp in the middle of nowhere and still have a little bit of civilization around, you go to Ballarat. Trona is just about 40 miles away for Ice and Gas. George and Rocky, the care takers of the place are right there to answer questions about the area. Ballarat had a population of about 500 at one time. The mining town of Panamint City up Surprise Canyon behind Ballarat supported about 2000 at it's peak. A flash flood washed all that away one year and that was the end of the mining opperation. The feds have closed the area to vehicles so now one can only hike up there. Ballarat is not much more than a couple of old buildings now.

After setting up camp and just relaxing for the first day, Tim and I started exploring. The first goal was the Corona Mine up Jail Canyon to the north of Ballarat. Along the way we encountered some wild burros and a snake in the road. Once up at the mining camp we looked around for about two hours and then headed back. Unfortunately, we had no idea that we needed to go about 50 yards farther into the canyon past the cabins to locate the actual mine. I thought they were just digging up the side of the hill just past the second out house. Oh well, it just means we need to go back....

The second excursion took us up Pleasant Canyon where we were stopped at the willows by some mining people working on the road. We had to turn around there. Funny that I forgot about that. The third took us up Middle Canyon and the Gold Bug Mine which is all locked up. Pleasant Canyon was, well, very pleasant! We will have to go back to see Clair Camp. Middle Park was a good long trek to a locked gate but we did find a lot of test holes and a shaft or two along the way. Next trip we need to do South Park.

The evenings in camp were just great. Quiet and comfy. The first night we broke out the 12 volt TV and watched the perfect camping movie... Blazing Saddles... I know... TV in the middle of nowhwere... So shoot me...

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George talking to a visitor on the front porch of the Ballarat Store. Tim setting up his tent. Tim sitting in his tent. View of the campsite.
Another view of the campsite. The Beast. Ballarat from the campsite. Tim and I relax at the campsite as the sun goes down behind us. We put the tarps up.
Gravesite of Charles Ferge aka Seldom Seen Slim. A prospector who spent his life in the desert around Ballarat. Ballarat Graveyard. Another gravesite. One of the few with a good marker. Wildlife. A wild burro checks us out as we head to Jail Canyon.
More wild burros along the way. Jail Canyon is way down on the right. Looking down Jail Canyon towards Panamint Valley. Tim bringing up the rear. Looking up Jail Canyon as we encounter some rather large obsticles. What I believe to be a water powered drive mechanism of some sort. Probably used high presure water to operate. Maybe a Pelton Water Wheel.
Me taking a break in the canyon. Arriving at the Corona Mine Camp. First picture has to be one of the two out houses. Inside the main cabin. What a great stove! The rest of the cabin needs a lot of TLC. View of the canyon where the mine is located. I need to go back and photograph that.
Looks like a great place to camp! Will do that next time. View of the main cabin and other structures. This vintage trailer has been all shot up by vandals. The owner has a note about that in the cabin. A much newer out house in the mouth of the canyon leading to the mine.
Another view of the camp. Ore. Gas powered power plant for some kind of mill. Anyone? Separation part of the mill?
Floatation part of the mill? An old International pickup truck. Wonder when they parked it here? Ore truck. Backed it in and left it there. This is a Hammer Mill.
View of Panaimnt Valley from the mouth of Jail Canyon. Water in Panamint Valley. Looking down from Pleasant Canyon. Ballarat from Pleasant Canyon.
Tim captures me sitting on a very old and large bulldozer in Middle Canyon. A shaft we found along the way. Another view of the same shaft. Tim standing at the opening to the shaft. Kinda scary!
Tabby and I at the portal of the Cecil R Gold Mine which was last worked in the late 40s. Markings in the mine. Most likely info for the explosives man. Here I'm checking out some pick holes in the mine. Really short miners in these parts... Tim checks out a side route. Nothing to see here!
Sunset in the Panamint Valley. Sunset at the Ballarat Campsite. Brought everything but the kitchen sink. Next time I'll bring that too! Almost movie time...
I found this gold coin at Jail Canyon Mining Camp. It was just lying on the ground. A tired Tabby falls asleep in the tent. Camp is set up. All ready for tons of fun. Tim wheeling in Jail Canyon.

Part III - Darwin - Keeler - Bishop

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