Re: Setting up Ghost Town Communities?

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 10:11:23 MST

From: "Spike Jones" <>
> There is water out there. Dont know where it is coming
> from, but Darwin does have a local water supply. spike

Somebody's been messin' with their water:
In October 1874, as the mines of Panamint City and Cerro Gordo waned in
importance, rich silver-lead deposits were discovered south and east of Owens
Lake. By the end of that year, a town had sprung up at the foot of Mount Ophir
in this region. The town was named Darwin in honor of Dr. Darwin French, an
early explorer of the territory east of the Sierra Nevada. One of the first
arrivals at the new settlement was Victor Beaudry, who laid nine miles of
hand-riveted pipe from a spring in the Coso Range. Following him was a
stampede of miners from Panamint City and Cerro Gordo, and from the lawless
Nevada towns of Pioche, Columbus and Eureka. Mining claims in the area were
held only by right of gun barrel, and claim holders found it necessary to live
on their locations to protect them against claim jumpers.
The population of Darwin at its peak in 1876 is variously given at between
1,500 and 4,500, but the latter figure is almost certainly exaggerated. It is
known, however, that there were five smelters, more than 20 operating mines
and about 200 frame houses. Fire devastated the town several times. Population
steadily declined as ore deposits were depleted. In the 1940s, the Anaconda
Copper Company developed a large mine in the area, and Darwin - for a time -
provided two-thirds of California's lead output. Historically, mining
activities (those of Anaconda Copper Company in particular) have provided the
economic and employment base of the community.
Anaconda operations terminated in the early 1970s. Since then, smaller-scale
sporadic mining operations have characterized local economic activity. The
Montecito operation, located in Lucky Jim Wash, involved reworking the
Anaconda mine tailings and several levels of the Darwin mine; like other area
mining activity, this ended after only a short time. Barring discovery of
high-value mineral deposits, mining operations are expected to remain small
and sporadic, contributing little employment or economic development.

Darwin resources now near nil
Without its traditional mining activity, and located some six miles south of
State Route 190, Darwin possesses few - if any - resources that might provide
an economic base. As a consequence, Darwin residents depend on social
security, pensions and temporary employment for income. Under these
circumstances, the per-capita and aggregate incomes of Darwin are severely
limited, affecting the capital available for housing and community

Darwin has attracted people seeking a lifestyle only available in an isolated
rural desert community without an economic base.

Darwinites (a.k.a. Darwinians) value the solitude and beauty of the desert,
the historic character of the community and the close sense of community
shared by residents. Despite their modest incomes, Darwinites are typically
self-reliant, both as individuals and as a community. The community tends to
rely on its own resources rather than seek outside assistance whenever
possible. For example, maintenance of the troublesome water system is
performed by community volunteers, rather than through more formal
institutional means.

In 1967, Superior Court Judge McMurry offered Darwin lots to the public for $5
apiece on a first-come basis.

Originally mapped in about 1906, Darwin townsite covered 80.6 acres and
originally contained approximately 519 full or partial parcels. Designed for
the needs of another era, Darwin parcels were 42 feet wide and 100 feet long,
containing 4,200 square feet. The platted townsite is a basic grid design,
composed of blocks of 10 parcels (two tandem rows of 5 parcels, each separated
by an alley) with streets and avenues separating the blocks. While the
townsite is rectangular, north and south, the grid was established on a
diagonal - resulting in many partial parcels, cut off by the townsite

Originally containing approximately 519 parcels, Darwin now contains about 230
ownerships (1978), Darwin was significantly affected by a decision of Inyo
County Superior Court Judge McMurry. In 1967, acting as trustee for the unsold
townsite lots, he offered these lots to the public for $5 apiece (that's right
five bucks) on a first-come basis. Because of the judge's action, much of
Darwin is owned by people who are unlikely to ever call Darwin "home." The
effect of this "speculative" ownership pattern is difficult to assess except
that the absentee owners are unlikely to encourage additional
property-tax-financed community development, adding to the existing
constrained financial situation.

Continuing problems associated with an inaccurate and imprecise survey of the
townsite led to a re-survey of the townsite by the Inyo county surveyor.

Water demand often exceeds supply
Much existing housing is in poor condition (1978 data) although increasing use
of mobile homes and trailers has improved the overall quality. Services are
limited to nonexistent (no stores or gas stations). The water supply, which
comes from a spring in the Coso Range some nine miles to the south on China
Lake Naval Weapons Center property, is inadequate. Supply is a critical
problem; demand often exceeds supply. Parts of the community actually run out
of water.

Septic systems and older pit privies are used for sanitary waste disposal, and
a caliche layer presents makes septic-system installation very difficult. The
community lacks fire-protection services, although a tank truck and pump have
been maintained for this purpose by the community from time to time.

Thus, in the 100-year-plus history of Darwin, it has gone from a boom-and-bust
mining community to an almost exclusively rural residential community with
several significant problems confronting its future.

A longer brief history of Darwin, California
By Robert P. Palazzo
Darwin, California was not always the tiny Mojave Desert ghost town that it is
today. In the 1870s, it was a rough-and-tumble mining boomtown, boasting a
population of over 3,000--more than half the head count of then Los Angeles.
Darwin mines produced the second largest amount of silver in California
history, only lagging behind nearby Cerro Gordo.

"It seemed . . . impossible that it could be a town where human beings lived .
. . There could be no living in the higher sense in a place so devoid of
everything that makes life even physically endurable."
Samuel D. Woods (California congressman, 1900-1903) about Darwin in 1882.

--- --- --- --- ---

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
non-sensory experience

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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