Author Topic: CALIF (Younger days) - Ballarat (Ghost Town) & Panamint Mtn Range  (Read 1251 times)

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Paul2M

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Had a discussion about some real dirt road trips with TerrE (he had sent pictures).  Anyway, that got me thinking about early 1960s (1964 1965 time frame) when we were doing some Haul and Ride trips to Ballarat (Ghost town in Panamint Valley) just west of Panamint Mtn Range which is west of Death Valley. You could see Death Valley on some of the Mtn Raods we rode.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballarat,_California   
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panamint_Range
 
Brings back memories. DGM :-)  :-)
 
I wish we had Internet information in those days (early 1960s). :-) Only information I had on Ghost Towns was a book - Ghosts of Glory Trails.  Ballarat was closest to us as we were near coast in S CA. 
 
We (Not Betty, but MC friends from work), made a couple trips out there (weekends) and one a bit more extended where we went on into Death Valley and spent a night. Talking hauling in truck a stripped down BSA 350 One Cylinder Street Bike with a bigger sprocket and somewhat knobby tires, slept on ground in sleeping bags. Sometimes three of us (can't imagine how we got three good size bikes (good size for those days 350 to 500 cc street bikes) in the truck?
 
Ballarat, CA and Panamint Range to the East of Ballarat. (we had some high elevations - seems in 9000 + foot range while Ballarat is in 1500 foot). Big elevation changes on the rides. I realize now Panamint one word and not Pan A Mint that I searched on first. Note: WIKI says Charles Manson (Killer Family) lived in a town near Ballarat in early 1960s (wonder if they was there when we were exploring the area).
 
When those old town were abandoned (mining peteret out), they pretty much took all the wood structures down (took wood to next town as wood was scarce). So, all that is left of some of the Ghost Towns is Adobe Walls.
 
At the time (early 1960s) when we were there, all that was left were some adobe walls and a couple structures. I remember one that was pretty sound (large one room adobe walled with a roof that a prospector lived in). He looked much like the guy in the picture in the web (WIKI Site). There was an old grave yard with some interesting markers. The guy had been a designer for Boeing and chucked it for the desert life (a historical society paid him a little to keep the place un-trashed and he would find old bottles to trade for things). He had large bottle of water in one corner of the room (dirt floor). He said he moved up into the mountains in the summer when it was hot. There was another guy living there also, we did not meet him and the two did not get along.
 
Winter trips (Jan / Feb) had cold nights and warm days. One time got down to freezing at night, nearly froze in our sleeping bags on the ground. A water troth for wild donkeys did freeze (wild ones roamed out there left over from the old days).
 
Roads looked about like the one ion the picture (WIKI) in the valley. Mtn roads a bit rougher and you could ride to the top and see down into Death Valley. I had put pipes on my BSA and re-jetted (richer), it would not hack it up one MTN RD. Buddy made it on his street Triumph 500. We nearly ran out of gas that day hunting away back down the mountains, would end up going up dead end roads to a mine while searching for road out. I had a map, but it was not detailed and we went off the map across the mountain ridge. Ran into hard snow at one time (poor visibility) and then the next road took us back down to Panamint Valley. There was a Dirt Airfield (landing strip) up there. We figured some emergency field, might have been from mining days or something). 
 
We explored all over out there (Dry Lakes are fun, but you start picking up mud under your fender, Mtn roads were rougher, but more fun and some abandoned mines up in the mountains).
 
Great Riding IT WAS. Some of the best times I ever had on a MC (Not very experienced then - rode about 3 years, started around 1962 and left CA in 1965). Gave up street riding after about a year or so, stripped the BSA down and rode dirt only.