Knapp's Castle is an abandoned mansion in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. A trail just under one mile out and back takes you to the ruins and a stunning vista point overlooking Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Valley. George Owen Knapp, founded of Union Carbide, created the mansion for his residence in 1916. Famous Opera Singer Lotte Lehmann moved here in 1940, but the castle was destroyed by fire only 5 weeks later.
Cima is a ghost town located in the Mojave National Preserve. Founded in 1900 with the opening of a store and later post office in 1905, H.C. Gibson's made the town famous because he did not pump gas for his customers making this the original self-service station. The Union Pacific Railroad passes the lazy town each day on its historic route. Cima is also the heart of the largest and densest Joshua Tree grove on Earth.
Amboy is an historic Route 66 Ghost Town on the outskirts of the Mojave National Preserve. The town was first started in 1858 as a railroad stop for the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. It became a boom town in 1926 after the completion of Route 66. In 1938 'Roy's Motel and Café' opened to serve tourists traveling the famed Mother Road. It's iconic Mid-Century modern neon sign was added in 1959. Interstate 40 opened in 1972 and put the town completely out of business. Today, Amboy has a population of four but is famous spot for those traveling 'America's Main Street'.
Mentryville Boomtown was named after Charles Alexander Mentry who drilled California's first successful oil well here in 1876. It was the world's longest continually operating well that lasted until 1990. Today, it is a park run by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy where Charles' historic home and barn still remain beneath the Santa Susana Mountains. Trails lead to historic ruins as well as canyons of chaparral and coast live oak.
Eureka Mine & Harrisburg are the ghostly remains of Peter Aguereberry's famous Death Valley mining camp. He first discovered gold here with his partner Shorty Harris in 1905. Pete would remain here for forty years until 1945. His camp and mining ruins patiently stand against the test of time. A famous 1612 gram Golden Nugget from the mine is displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute.
Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been a Hollywood Movie Ranch since 1927. Paramount Studios purchased this 2,700 acre lot to recreate the old west as well as many foreign countries. Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Marlene Dietrich are just a few of the Golden Age elite who have filmed here. Wander and listen to the echoes of the past at this living historical site.
Gold was discovered in 1895 at the Rand Mine and a camp was soon formed in this remote Mojave Desert enclave. Located near the other boom town of Johannesburg, the two names merged to spell Randsburg. With a population today of about 70, it is a true western ghost town. The famous General Store as well as its charming abandoned sites and sounds make it a must stop along the beautiful Highway 395.
The Salton Sea is one of the most fascinating spots in Southern California. Created by accident between 1905-07 while trying the reroute the Colorado River, water seeped through diversion canals for two years and settled into the Cahuilla Valley creating a new sea. Being in the low desert, everyone assumed the water would evaporate; however, the sea had other plans. Recreational resorts sprung up and the Salton Sea became a thriving new Riviera and yacht paradise.
With its lack of moving water supply, the sea became extremely salty causing the introduced fish to die off in the thousands. The beaches are made up of salt and fish bones, needless to say, causing the area surrounding the sea to become undesirable and uninhabitable. Ghost towns surround the shores while bird watchers come to the recreation area to enjoy the variety of birds that use the sea as a stopover between flight. Prepare your noses for a bizarre visit.
Keeler is a ghost town outside of Death Valley National Park in the Eastern Sierra Nevada known as the 'End of the Line'. The Carson and Colorado Railway extended their railroad all the way here during the Gold Rush in 1883. When nearby mining towns went bust, plans to extend the railway further to Mojave fell through and Keeler became the last stop of the line. The once-thriving adjacent Owens Lake was purchased by the city of Los Angeles who stole the entire water supply leaving Keeler high and dry.
Founded in 1881 as silver mining town, Calico Ghost Town is now an attraction in the Mojave Desert. In the 1890's when the silver boom declined and borax was discovered, the population soared to 3,500 and became a thriving desert community. This would end by the turn of the century and by 1907 became a true ghost town. Walter Knott, Knott's Berry Farm Mogul, purchased Calico in the 1950's and restored the town into an attraction with authentic and faux restorations.