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Books, Diaries, Journals, Etc.

Loafing Along Death Valley Trails

by William Caruthers


To one who, without complaint or previous experience with desert hardships, shared with me the difficult and often dangerous adventures in part recorded in this book, which but for her persistent urging, would never have reached the printed page. She is, of course, my wife-with me in a sense far broader than the words imply: always—always.

Golden Canyon Trail


This book is a personal narrative of people and places in Panamint Valley, the Amargosa Desert, and the Big Sink at the bottom of America. Most of the places which excited a gold-crazed world in the early part of the century are now no more, or are going back to sage. Of the actors who made the history of the period, few remain.

It was the writer’s good fortune that many of these men were his friends. Some were or would become tycoons of mining or industry. Some would lucklessly follow jackasses all their lives, to find no gold but perhaps a finer treasure—a rainbow in the sky that would never fade.

It is the romance, the comedy, the often stark tragedy these men left along the trail which you will find in the pages that follow.

Necessarily the history of the region, often dull, is given first because it gives a clearer picture of the background and second, because that history is little known, being buried in the generally unread diaries of John C. Fremont, Kit Carson, Lt. Brewerton, Jedediah Smith, and the stories of early Mormon explorers.

It is interesting to note that a map popular with adventurers of Fremont’s time could list only six states west of the Mississippi River. These were Texas, Indian Territory, Missouri, Oregon, and Mexico’s two possessions—New Mexico and Upper California. There was no Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, or either of the Dakotas. No Kansas. No Nebraska.

Sources of material are given in the text and though careful research was made, it should be understood that the history of Death Valley country is argumentative and bold indeed is one who says, “Here are the facts.”

With something more than mere formality, the writer wishes to thank those mentioned below:

My longtime friend, Senator Charles Brown of Shoshone who has often given valuable time to make available research material which otherwise would have been almost impossible to obtain. Of more value, have been his personal recollections of Greenwater, Goldfield, and Tonopah, in all of which places he had lived in their hectic days.

Mrs. Charles Brown, daughter of the noted pioneer, Ralph Jacobus (Dad) Fairbanks and her sister, Mrs. Bettie Lisle, of Baker, California. The voluminous scrapbooks of both, including one of their mother, Celestia Abigail Fairbanks, all containing information of priceless value were always at my disposal while preparing the manuscript.

Dad Fairbanks, innumerable times my host, was a walking encyclopedia of men and events.

One depository of source material deserves special mention. Nailed to the wall of Shorty Harris’ Ballarat cabin was a box two feet wide, four feet long, with four shelves. The box served as a cupboard and its calico curtains operated on a drawstring. On the top shelf, Shorty would toss any letter, clipping, record of mine production, map, or bulletin that the mails had brought, visitors had given, or friends had sent. And there they gathered the dust of years.

Wishing to locate the address of Peter B. Kyne, author of The Parson of Panamint, whose host Shorty had been, I removed these documents and discovered that the catch-all shelf was a veritable treasure of little-known facts about the Panamint of earlier days.

There were maps, reports of geologic surveys, and bulletins now out of print; newspapers of the early years and scores of letters with valuable material bearing the names of men internationally known.

It is with a sense of futility that I attempt to express my indebtedness to my wife, who with a patience I cannot comprehend, kept me searching for the facts whenever and wherever the facts were to be found; typing and re-typing the manuscript in its entirety many times to make it, if possible, a worthwhile book.

A Personal Narrative of People and Places
Published by Death Valley Publishing Co.
Ontario, California

A Foretaste of Things to Come
What Caused Death Valley?
Aaron and Rosie Winters
John Searles and His Lake of Ooze
But Where Was God?
Death Valley Geology
Indians of the Area
Desert Gold. Too Many Fractions
Romance Strikes the Parson
Greenwater-Last of the Boom Towns
The Amargosa Country
A Hovel That Ought To Be a Shrine
Sex in Death Valley Country
Shoshone Country. Resting Springs
The Story of Charles Brown
Long Man, Short Man
Shorty Frank Harris
A Million Dollar Poker Game
Death Valley Scotty
Odd But Interesting Characters
Roads. Cracker Box Signs
Lost Mines. The Breyfogle and Others
Panamint City. Genial Crooks
Indian George. Legend of the Panamint
Ballarat. Ghost Town
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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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