Randsburg, California

      I mentioned a trip to the Randsburg region a few chapters back.  That particular time I was with my friend Steve with our dirt bikes.  I think this was the one on using the GPS unit and maps.

     I have made five trips to the area.  Randsburg is a small town left over from the Gold mining days.  It was a small place in the days of my early manhood when these excursions were made.  I was very good friends with the Days, these were the folks who ran the Indian Village in the old days of Knott’s Berry Farm.  This was before the big amusement park boom took over.  Still in the old days when Walter Knott and his wife were alive.  They purchased one of the old houses in the town.  The road ran behind the house and the property slanted down toward a steep gully.  All the houses on this section of the road were below the road level.  The peak of the roof of the Days house was only about eighteen inches above the side of the road where you parked your vehicle.  A rough stone retaining wall kept the hill side from cllapsing.  The house was built into the side of the hill.  There was a small sde yard area then another drop off that the building was built out over for a ways then the steep drop to the gully.  The building next door adjacent to the property was constructed out of adobe brick in the same fashion.  It was a  old town.  They later bought a second property  on the next road up it was built on the side of the hill also but not quite as drastic.  This house was on what was the main street of town.

      What I would judge to be the mid length of a short city block was the business district.  There was one very small general store that served as the liquor store as well.  You could purchase the basics of food supplies and various mining equipment.  Things like handles for your pick’s and shovels and gold panning pans.  I purchased a six pack of beer in there as a thank you gift for a old couple friends of the Days.  They gave me a box of new .303 rifle shells they had found in the road.    There was one small bar in town and a small concrete jail that was used occasionly when some of the bar patrons got too rambustious  on Saturday night.  I was told on one accasion  they stuck twenty in there at once.  The place was very small, just the one room with the door on the outside.  They saaid they had to bring the pumper truck over to hose the place out.  at this point I would like to add the water for all three towns wa piped from twenty miles away and was expensieve compared to what we are used to.  As I recall the rest of the buildings were closed up or used as living quarters.  There was one old shop that a fellow lived in and built Harpsichords.  Up on the hill was the Yellow Aster Mine.  This was a closed Gold mine with  a live on site guard.  It was repudited to have two million worth of gold in it but the cost of mining it was not feasaible.  I read some years back with the value of gold rising that it had been reopened.  At that time gold was around thirty-two dollars a ounce.  I met old timers that had quart jars full of gold dust who were waiting for the value to go up before cashing it in.  I hope these old duffers lived long enough to see the value reach the three-hundred  mark.  but I doubt it they were all pretty old at that time.

     If you wanted to eat out   other than a small selection of sandwichs at the store, you had to drive about three miles around the hill back to highway 395 to Johanasburg.  There on the highway was a small cafe with a small menue, and very good iced tea.  A slightly larger bar with a piano and a small old motel on one side of the highway and a two pump gas station comprised the town with a hand full of dewellings comprised the town.  And the town of Red Mountian nesseled next to it.  I cannot remember any thing about Red Mountain other than closed buildings.

      On one trip up to Randsburd, with a different friend for a weekend outing I discovered that the Days daughter had moved into the lower house. We had been friends for awhile as she used to dress like a Indian Maiden for the tourist at the Indian Village her parents ran at Knott’s.  We camped out on the small yard next to her house, basically we threw our sleeping bags on the ground.  She had a old man named Harl who kinda watched over her and her five year old daughter.  He came down to check up on us and what we were up too.  After introductions and finding us to be harmless, he invited us on a excursion he had planned for Rainbow and her daughter the next day. 

 Harl had a old WWII jeep and he some how tied a bench seat onto the back for me and Bill to ride on.  He took us out to the back country to places we would never have found on our own.  He showed us a dwelling dug out of the side of a hill, that was still in use.  The mattresses were rolled up and suspended from the roof by ropes to keep the vermin out of them.  It was comprised of three rooms dug cave like in a circular fashion.  They had carted in a old wood cooking stove and had metal cabinets.  We simply looked without disturbing anything even the faded girlie pinups tacked to the walls.  He showed us a place some one had dug into the side of the railroad bank up under the tracks with room for a sleeping shelf and a small stove made of rock supporting  a steel plate.  He had even fashioned a small window in the place. 

     A third place really stands out in my memory was a very small cabin built right up against the side of the mountain.  I remember it had a green tar paper roof and the same material for the siding.  The place was long abandoned.  Upon entering we discovered that there was a mine tunnel in the back wall.  It led farther than I cared to explore.  Hal cautioned us to take care in these places because often there were shafts going straight down for hundreds of feet with no warning.  The ladders were old and rotten and not safe for use.  I have never been interested in  being under ground anyway.   Hal and Frank Day both told me these mine shafts and tunnels were so inter connected that you could go under ground and roam around and come out twenty miles away.

     I believe I mentioned on our dirt bike trip I visited Frank Day while operating the shaft bucket for a fellow mining a shaft out side of Red Mountain.  The steel cable was wrapped around a drum and had painted markers on the cable to indicate what level the bucket was on.  Frank raised and lowered the bucket on bell siginals  from the miner down below.  Frank would raise and dump the ore then send the bucket back down.  The old miner went up and down the shaft in the same bucket which was about the size of a fifty gallon barrel.  I do not know how the mining operations was going as the fellow was not the talkative type.

     After I got my old fifty-nine Jeep Station Wagon I made several trips back to the area. On trip I described earlier in this blog was the blind date I later married. 

    Lord I have rambled more than I intened, so will move my withered old butt on down the line.  rambling bob 


10 Responses to “Randsburg, California”

  1. Steve Says:

    We have been very fortunate to grow up in the time frame that we did. I live very close too the Randsberg area.

  2. J Wendt Says:

    I read of Rambling Bob’s adventures to the town of Red Mountain and the surronding mining areas. I think I recognize a few of the buildings and mine sites pursuant to his description. I wish though that he had given a time reference for these different observations.

    I have been exploring the towns and geography of the Rand Mining District since about 1977, and have more recently as of 2006 started to explore the surrounding areas as well.

  3. Kurt Blakesley Says:

    Enjoyed your randsburg stories. i was wondering if you were writing about frank and ethel day ? if so my family has owned the house on fiddler’s gulch about 37 years i was nine, the days sold in 1970. we also own the dougout next door, at one time a bar in the 20s, and the property across the street, we use the cabins all the time dirt bike ect…and at times rent out to film crews. we enjoy talking with people who have a history with our property and if your ever in town and see cars at our cabins feel free to stop and say hello. kurt blakesley.

  4. ramblingbob Says:

    First to J Wendt, My time around Randsburg was in the mid 60’s to 70, explored and did some trail bike riding there.
    toKurt Blakesley; Yes I was one of the kids who hung around the Indian Village at Knotts Berry Farm when the Days ran the place. Visited them at Randsburg several times. They had the place up for sale the last time I was there. Lost track of them after then. they were getting old then like I am now, be 70 next year, don’t get around much these days but still have all the old memories, thanks for the invite though. did you know their daughter Rainbow?

  5. Kurt Blakesley Says:

    Hey bob, yes i do remember the name rainbow i was young but it does ring a bell. many of the old timers are long gone but iam sure olga who at 97 years old and still runs her bar “the joint” with the help of her family would remember her. was in randsburg last week and learn something new about the town each time iam there even after 38 years. kurt

  6. ramblingbob Says:

    Rainbow lived in the house down on the gulch. she had a young daughter probably around 6 or 7 by your time. she also lived with a x-school teacher don’t remember her name. Rainbow also played the piano at the bar/restrant in Red rock. Speaking of Red rock a buddy and I rode our bikes up to the top of Red Mountain, I had a honda 90 trail-bike. got to the top but did not have the nerve to ride it back down, walked the damn things down. Nice to hear from you again.

  7. Kurt Blakesley Says:

    lol, yes i have also been to the top of red mountian, i think my name is carved into a rock or something, i should go again, rainbow lived in what is now my moms cabin. small world, iam going to ask olga next time i see her about the family. kurt

  8. Kurt Blakesley Says:

    Hey bob its been a while, just to let you know i was told by an old timer in randsburg that (Rainbow) AKA Ginger has passed away, but her daughter is about 46 ? this came from olgas family who has owned the (joint) in town from the 40s, sorry for the bad news hope all is well , kurt

  9. ramblingbob Says:

    Kurt: thanks so much for the information. Ginger was a few years older than I. I last saw her and her daughter who was about five then at the house you said your mother uses. I first met Ginger, when the Day’s ran the Indian village at Knott’s Berry Farm in the early 60’s. She used to dress in a Elk skin dress with beading and lots of fring and pose for photos with the tourtist. I had many fond days there in their company, and met many Native Americans ,who all adorred the Day’s. Thanks again for remembering me and for the information.

  10. MXRider Says:

    Hey Bob and others,
    Just wanted to say I REALLY enjoyed reading about your adventures in Ransburg. I recently discovered this area and LOVE to ride / visit Ransburg! For some reason that place has me memorized, they way the town still looks like it did way back then. The people are so friendly and will tell you all they can about the town if you ask. I am actually heading out there this week with a big group of ppl and we will be stopping by for some beer and lunch. Again thank you for sharing the stories, I LOVE old western history stuff.

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