November 29, 2018

Photo Essay: The Hottest Real Estate Property This Side of Death Valley

The town of Shoshone, California might seem like a mere rest stop on your way to the eastern portion of Death Valley...

...but it's got plenty of attractions and history to explore in its own right.

Sure, just over 30 people lived there as of the 2010 census.

But Shoshone was once a happening railroad town—a stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, until it shut down in 1940.

It was also a hotspot for miners and railroad workers, who dwelled in makeshift caves carved out of mounds of a kind of calcium deposit, right in the center of town.

Shoshone's climate is considered "cold desert"—so the workers would need shelter from the hot summers and frigid winters.

Prospectors found their way here, too—as did a homebrewer named Joe Vollmer, who arrived in Shoshone in 1922 (during Prohibition).

So did members of the Manson family, after Barker Ranch in Death Valley.

And everyone who resided here—right up until the 1970s—left traces of their daily lives behind.

With each tenant who assumed residence, the caves were upgraded and expanded—some with stovepipes sticking out of their roofs, some having been converted into duplexes. There's even an outhouse left.

Of course dugouts weren't uncommon in areas that ran short on building materials...

...whether it was the Ingalls family dugout homestead in Walnut Grove, Minnesota...

...or the cave dwellings of the Berbers in Matmata, Tunisia.

But these miners' caves proved surprisingly popular. If one of the residents died, there was a line of folks to take over their space.

It's all closed to the public now, save for a walking trail through the historic district.

The trail leads you to the Shoshone Cemetery, where 55-some-odd people have been buried since 1924.

This is Dublin Gulch, originally called "Doublin Gulch" because so many people came that it kept doublin' in size.

Related Posts:
Excavating the Ruins
Photo Essay: The Doomed Domes, Casa Grande's Other Ruins
Photo Essay: Deep Into the Tecopa Basin Through China Ranch, Just Outside Death Valley

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