Cinnabar & Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in the Earth’s crust, and it is extracted from cinnabar ore. The process of obtaining mercury from cinnabar involves several steps:

By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Cinnabar. (2024, April 11). In Wikipedia.
  1. Mining: Mercury is primarily obtained from cinnabar ore, which contains mercury sulfide (HgS). The cinnabar ore is mined from deposits found in the Earth.
  2. Crushing and Grinding: The mined cinnabar ore is crushed and ground to liberate the mercury sulfide from the surrounding rock.
  3. Roasting: The crushed ore is then heated in a furnace to a temperature of about 500 to 600 degrees Celsius (932 to 1112 degrees Fahrenheit) in the presence of oxygen. This process, called roasting, causes the mercury sulfide to decompose into mercury vapor and sulfur dioxide gas: HgS+O2→Hg+SO2
  4. Condensation: The mercury vapor is then cooled and condensed into liquid mercury. This is typically done by passing the vapor through a series of condensers where it cools and changes back into a liquid state.
  5. Purification: The liquid mercury is collected and further purified to remove impurities. This can be done through distillation, where the mercury is heated to vaporize it again and then condensed to obtain pure mercury.

The resulting liquid mercury is then stored in flasks or containers and used for various industrial and scientific applications.

By Bionerd – Own work, CC BY 3.0,
Mercury (element). (2024, May 16). In Wikipedia.

Cinnabar (mercury sulfide, HgS) is toxic. The primary concern with cinnabar is its mercury content. Here are some key points about its toxicity:

  1. Mercury Content: Cinnabar contains mercury, which is a highly toxic element. Mercury can exist in several forms, each with different levels of toxicity and ways of causing harm. The toxicity primarily depends on the form and the route of exposure.
  2. Inhalation Hazards: When cinnabar is heated or processed, it can release mercury vapor. Mercury vapor inhalation is particularly dangerous as it can cause severe neurological and systemic health problems.
  3. Skin Contact and Ingestion: While elemental mercury is less easily absorbed through the skin, compounds like mercury sulfide in cinnabar can be harmful if ingested or if particles are inhaled. Chronic exposure can lead to mercury poisoning, which can affect the kidneys, nervous system, and other organs.
  4. Chronic Exposure: Long-term exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, can lead to mercury poisoning, with symptoms including tremors, memory problems, mood swings, and cognitive impairment.
  5. Environmental Impact: Mercury from cinnabar mining and processing can also contaminate the environment, leading to bioaccumulation in the food chain and affecting wildlife and human health.

Due to these risks, handling cinnabar and processing mercury require strict safety protocols to protect workers and the environment. Proper ventilation, protective equipment, and environmental controls are essential to minimize exposure and prevent mercury poisoning.



Littering, Dumping, Vandalism & Theft in the Mojave.

How do we prevent it?

Addressing littering, illegal dumping, vandalism, and theft in natural areas like the Mojave Desert requires a multifaceted approach, considering prevention and remediation. Here are some strategies that can be employed:

Education and Awareness

  1. Public Education Campaigns: Educating the public about the ecological, cultural, and historical significance of the Mojave Desert can foster a sense of stewardship. Campaigns can highlight the negative impacts of littering, dumping, vandalism, and theft.
  2. School Programs: Integrating environmental education into school curriculums can instill values of conservation and respect for nature in young people.

Enforcement and Regulation

  1. Increased Surveillance: Deploying more rangers or utilizing surveillance technology in high-risk areas can deter potential offenders.
  2. Stricter Penalties: Implementing harsher penalties for violations can serve as a deterrent. This could include higher fines, community service in environmental cleanup, and legal action for more serious offenses.
  3. Quick Response to Incidents: Rapid response to reports of dumping, vandalism, or theft can help catch perpetrators and serve as a deterrent to others.

Community Engagement and Participation

  1. Volunteer Cleanup Events: Organizing community cleanups can address existing litter and dumping and foster a sense of community ownership and responsibility.
  2. Adopt-a-Spot Programs: Encouraging individuals, families, or groups to “adopt” areas of the desert for regular monitoring and maintenance can help maintain cleanliness and report issues quickly.

Infrastructure and Accessibility

  1. Better Waste Management Facilities: Providing accessible and convenient disposal options near the Mojave area can reduce the likelihood of illegal dumping.
  2. Improved Signage: Clear, informative signage about rules, regulations, and the importance of preservation can serve as both an educational tool and a deterrent.

Technology and Innovation

  1. Mobile Apps: Developing and promoting mobile apps that allow visitors to report litter, dumping, vandalism, or theft in real-time can aid in quick responses and create a database of problem areas.
  2. Social Media: Utilizing social media platforms to share information, organize cleanup events, and foster a digital community of stewards can enhance engagement and awareness.


  1. Collaboration with Local Businesses: Engaging local businesses in sponsorship opportunities for cleanup events or educational programs can enhance resources and community involvement.
  2. Partnerships with Environmental Organizations: Working with NGOs and environmental groups can bring expertise, volunteers, and additional resources for conservation efforts.

Solving these issues in the Mojave Desert requires persistent efforts across multiple fronts. It’s about creating and nurturing a culture of respect and care for the environment, backed by effective enforcement and community involvement.

Mountain High East

Wrightwood Ski Resorts

Holiday Hill Ski Resort, located in the San Gabriel Mountains near Wrightwood, California, has a significant place in Southern California’s skiing history. While less known today, Holiday Hill played an important role in the region’s winter sports scene. Here’s a brief overview of its history:

  1. Early Beginnings: Holiday Hill Ski Resort started in the mid-20th century. It was part of the burgeoning ski industry in Southern California, which capitalized on the region’s mountainous terrain and winter snowfall.
  2. Location and Accessibility: Situated near the town of Wrightwood, Holiday Hill was easily accessible to the growing population of Southern California, especially those in the Los Angeles area. This accessibility contributed to its popularity as a ski destination.
  3. Facilities and Attractions: The resort offered skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with various slopes catering to different skill levels. It was known for its family-friendly atmosphere and was a popular choice for beginners and intermediate skiers.
  4. Transition and Development: Over the years, Holiday Hill underwent several changes, including ownership transitions and developments in its infrastructure. These changes were part of the broader evolution of the ski industry in Southern California.
  5. Integration into Mountain High: Eventually, Holiday Hill became part of the larger Mountain High resort. This integration was a significant step in consolidating the ski areas in the Wrightwood region. The once Holiday Hill area is now part of the expanded Mountain High complex, specifically the East Resort.
  6. Legacy and Modern Era: Today, the legacy of Holiday Hill lives on as part of Mountain High. The East Resort of Mountain High, which encompasses the former Holiday Hill area, continues to offer skiing and snowboarding, emphasizing varied terrain and scenic views.
  7. Cultural Impact: Holiday Hill contributed to the growth of the skiing culture in Southern California. It played a role in introducing many Southern Californians to winter sports and helped establish the region as a destination for skiing and snowboarding.

In summary, Holiday Hill Ski Resort was a key player in developing the skiing industry in Southern California. Its integration into Mountain High Resort has allowed its legacy to continue, contributing to the region’s rich history of winter sports.

Ghost Stories & Legends

With its vast and rugged landscape, the Mojave Desert is steeped in legends and ghost stories passed down through generations. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  1. The Lost Ship of the Desert: One of the most enduring legends is that of a Spanish galleon laden with pearls and gold, which is said to have been stranded in the desert centuries ago. Over the years, many have searched for this lost ship, but it remains a tantalizing mystery, possibly just a mirage or a tale spun from the heat and isolation of the desert.
  2. The Ghosts of Calico: Once a thriving silver mining town, Calico is now a ghost town and tourist attraction. Visitors and employees have reported numerous ghost sightings, including that of a playful little girl, miners still panning for silver, and mysterious floating orbs.
  3. The Yucca Man: Similar to Bigfoot, the Yucca Man is a legendary creature said to roam the Mojave. Described as very tall and covered in hair, campers and hikers have reported this elusive being, though evidence of its existence is purely anecdotal.
  4. The Haunted Joshua Tree: The Joshua Tree National Park, part of the Mojave Desert, is home to many myths. One such story involves a specific Joshua tree said to be haunted by the spirit of a man who was hanged from its branches. Some claim to have seen his ghost wandering near the tree at night.
  5. The Cursed Gold of Pegleg Smith: This legend revolves around Thomas “Pegleg” Smith, a mountain man who allegedly discovered a huge black-coated gold nugget in the Mojave. He never found it again, and many treasure hunters have tried and failed to locate Pegleg’s lost gold, leading to speculations of a curse.
  6. The Char Man of San Bernardino: A lesser-known but chilling tale is that of the Char Man, a ghostly figure said to have been a fire victim. He is reputed to haunt the outskirts of San Bernardino, frightening unwary travelers with his burned and disfigured appearance.

These stories, whether based on fact or fiction, add a rich layer of mystery and intrigue to the Mojave Desert. They reflect the human fascination with the unknown and the allure of a beautiful and forbidding landscape.

Ghost Stories,Legends,Mojave Desert Myths,Haunted Places,Desert Ghosts,Paranormal Activity,Folklore,Desert Legends,Supernatural Tales,Haunted Sites,Mojave Mysteries,Historical Legends,Ghost Towns,Desert Spirits,Spooky Stories,Desert Lore

Covered Wagon (prairie schooner)


Covered wagons significantly impacted the United States’ westward expansion during the 18th and 19th centuries. These wagons, often called “prairie schooners,” were designed to transport goods and settlers across the North American continent.

Family & covered wagon (prairie schooner)

Key features and uses of covered wagons included:

  1. Design: Covered wagons typically had a wooden frame with a canvas cover. This cover protected the contents from weather elements like rain and sun. The wagon bed was usually made of wood and was about four feet wide by ten feet long.
  2. Cover: The cover was made of canvas or similar durable cloth, stretched over hooped frames, providing shelter and goods for the occupants.
  3. Wheels: The wheels were often large and designed to handle rough terrain. The front wheels were usually smaller than the rear wheels, allowing easier turning.
  4. Draft Animals: Oxen, mules, or horses were commonly used to pull these wagons. Oxen were preferred for their strength and endurance, especially over long distances.
  5. Role in Expansion: Covered wagons were essential for westward migration in the U.S. They carried settlers’ belongings, including tools, food, and sometimes even passengers. These wagons were a vital part of the movement to settle the American West and were commonly seen on trails like the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the California Trail.
  6. Living Quarters: The covered wagon was a temporary home for many settlers traveling west. Families would cook, eat, sleep, and spend much of their time in or around the wagon during their journey.
  7. Historical Significance: The image of a covered wagon crossing the plains has become an iconic symbol of American frontier life, representing the pioneer spirit, exploration, and the challenges of frontier life.

The use of covered wagons declined with the advent of railroads, which offered a faster and more efficient means of transporting goods and people across the country. However, their legacy remains an integral part of American history and folklore.

Bodie -v- Mojave Ghost Towns

Bodie and Mojave Desert ghost towns are examples of abandoned settlements in the Western United States. Still, they are located in different regions and have distinct historical and geographical contexts.


Here’s how Bodie ghost town compares to Mojave Desert ghost towns

  1. Location:
    • Bodie Ghost Town is located in eastern California, near the Nevada border, in the Bodie Hills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is not part of the Mojave Desert.
    • Mojave Desert ghost towns, on the other hand, are scattered throughout the Mojave Desert region, which covers parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. These ghost towns are found in a desert landscape, whereas Bodie is in a mountainous area.
  2. Historical Significance:
    • Bodie Ghost Town was once a bustling mining town during the late 19th century. It boomed during the Gold Rush but declined when the mines became depleted. It is known for its remarkably well-preserved buildings and artifacts, making it a popular tourist attraction and a State Historic Park.
    • The Mojave Desert ghost towns have diverse histories related to mining or other industries. These towns experienced growth and decline due to factors like mining, railroads, or changes in economic activity in the region.
  3. Geography and Climate:
    • Bodie’s location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains has a colder, alpine climate with snowy winters. It is not in a desert like the Mojave Desert ghost towns, which have hot, arid desert climates.
  4. Preservation:
    • Bodie Ghost Town is notable for its excellent preservation, with many buildings and artifacts remaining intact. It provides a unique glimpse into the past due to its relatively isolated location and the efforts to protect and maintain it.
    • Mojave Desert ghost towns vary in their levels of preservation. Some may have deteriorated significantly, while others may have been partially restored or maintained for historical and tourist purposes.

In summary, while Bodie Ghost Town and Mojave Desert ghost towns share the common theme of being abandoned settlements in the American West, they differ in their locations, historical backgrounds, climates, and levels of preservation. Each ghost town has its unique story and charm, showcasing the diversity of the history and landscapes of the Western United States.


While Bodie Ghost Town and Mojave Desert ghost towns differ, they also share similarities due to their historical significance as abandoned settlements in the American West.

Santa Barbara Church – Randsburg

Here are some commonalities between them:

  1. Mining History: Both Bodie Ghost Town and many Mojave Desert ghost towns have roots in mining activities. They were often established to support nearby mining operations for gold, silver, copper, or other valuable minerals.
  2. Boom and Bust Cycles: Both ghost towns experienced periods of rapid growth and prosperity (boom) followed by economic decline and abandonment (bust) as the mining or other industries became less profitable or were exhausted.
  3. Historic Architecture: Both Bodie and the Mojave Desert ghost towns feature historic buildings and structures that reflect the architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings offer insights into the daily lives of the people who once inhabited these towns.
  4. Tourism and Preservation: Many ghost towns, including Bodie, have been preserved and turned into tourist attractions or historic sites. Visitors can explore the well-preserved or partially restored buildings and artifacts, providing a glimpse into the past.
  5. Cultural Significance: These ghost towns hold cultural significance, representing a particular era in American history when mining and westward expansion were prominent. They serve as reminders of the challenges and opportunities that shaped the American West.
  6. Isolation: Bodie Ghost Town and many Mojave Desert ghost towns are often located in remote or isolated areas. This isolation contributed to their decline and abandonment as access to resources and services became more challenging.
  7. Natural Surroundings: While Bodie is mountainous, some Mojave Desert ghost towns are in arid desert landscapes. Both types of locations offer unique natural surroundings that add to the appeal of these historical sites.
  8. Photogenic and Cinematic Appeal: Bodie and Mojave Desert ghost towns have been popular settings for photography and film productions. Their well-preserved or picturesque appearances have made them attractive for creative projects.
  9. Historical Documentation: Researchers and historians have documented the histories of both Bodie and Mojave Desert ghost towns, helping preserve the stories and heritage of these places.

In summary, Bodie Ghost Town and Mojave Desert ghost towns share several similarities in their historical origins, economic activities, architectural heritage, cultural significance, and appeal as tourist destinations. However, it’s important to recognize that each ghost town has unique characteristics and history that make it special.

Considering the Gentrification of the Mojave Desert

Gentrification is a complex and multifaceted process that typically involves the transformation of a neighborhood or community due to an influx of wealthier residents and increased property development. While gentrification is commonly associated with urban areas, how it might manifest in desert regions is worth considering.

Barstow, California

In the context of desert areas like the Mojave Desert, some factors may contribute to changes in local communities:

  1. Tourism Development: Deserts are often attractive to tourists seeking unique landscapes and experiences. Developing tourist infrastructure, such as upscale resorts, could change the local economy and demographics.
  2. Environmental Conservation and Luxury Living: Some desert areas may become appealing to those seeking a more secluded or environmentally conscious lifestyle. This could lead to the development of upscale residences, potentially displacing existing communities.
  3. Renewable Energy Projects: The Mojave Desert, particularly, has seen increased interest in renewable energy projects like solar farms. This can bring economic development but may also change the local population dynamics.
  4. Artistic and Cultural Appeal: Artists and individuals attracted to the tranquility and unique landscapes of the desert may contribute to gentrification by establishing art communities or cultural hubs.

It’s crucial to note that the impact of gentrification can vary based on the specific characteristics of each desert region and the policies in place to address community concerns. Local governments and community organizations play a crucial role in shaping development patterns and mitigating the potential negative effects of gentrification, such as displacement of long-term residents and cultural erosion.

Wikiup (Shelter)

Mono Paiute wickiup – Edward Curtis 1900 (colorized)

A “wikiup” in the context of Native American culture typically refers to a traditional type of shelter or dwelling. It is a simple, dome-shaped structure constructed using a framework of branches or saplings. The frame is often covered with various materials, such as brush, reeds, grass, or sometimes animal hides. Various indigenous peoples in North America commonly used these shelters.

The design of wikiups varied among different tribes, reflecting the local environment and available resources. They were relatively easy to construct and could be adapted to different climates. Nomadic or semi-nomadic groups often used Wikiups as temporary or seasonal shelters.

It’s important to note that the term “wikiup” might be spelled or pronounced differently in various indigenous languages, and the specific features of these shelters could vary based on cultural and regional differences.


Trigger was the famous horse ridden by Roy Rogers, the iconic American cowboy actor and singer. Trigger was a golden palomino known for his intelligence, versatility, and striking appearance. He became one of the most well-known and beloved horses in the history of Hollywood.

Trigger was a Palomino horse that became famous as the faithful companion of Roy Rogers, a popular American cowboy actor and singer. Trigger was born in 1932 and originally named Golden Cloud. Roy Rogers first encountered the horse in the 1938 movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” where Olivia de Havilland rode him.

Impressed by the horse’s beauty and abilities, Rogers eventually acquired him. The horse was then renamed Trigger, and he became one of the most famous horses in Hollywood history. Trigger appeared in many of Roy Rogers’ films and television shows, showcasing his remarkable intelligence and performing various tricks on command.

Trigger appeared in many of Roy Rogers’ films and television shows, becoming a true partner to Rogers in his on-screen adventures. The horse was trained to perform a variety of tricks and stunts, showcasing both Trigger’s abilities and the strong bond between him and Rogers.

Trigger became a beloved icon, often called “The Smartest Horse in the Movies.” After Trigger died in 1965, Rogers arranged for the horse to be taxidermied. The preserved Trigger was displayed at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in California. Later, the museum closed, and in 2010, Trigger was sold at auction for nearly $266,000. The buyer, a cable television network, intended to use the preserved horse in a planned Roy Rogers exhibit.

Trigger’s legacy lives on in fans’ memories and the numerous films and television shows where he played a prominent role alongside Roy Rogers.