Wild Burrow ( Equus africanus asinus )

Scattered across the south west scattered small populations of Wild Burrow ( Equus africanus asinus ) thrive in the harsh landscape. The burrow is also known as a donkey, wild ass. The animal is first first brought to the desert southwest by the spanish explorers in the 1500’s as pack animals. The humble burrow help haul goods and open the west. The burrow populations across the desert are the result of escapes, abandoned animals or stranded by the death of their owners.

Wild Burrow photographed in Beatty, Nevada - Photo by James L Rathbun
Wild Burrow photographed in Beatty, Nevada – Photo by James L Rathbun

This animal, which was originally found in Africa and later domesticated, is well suited to the dry desert landscape. The frame of the animal is short of ruffed, standing about four and half feet tall and weighing about 350 pounds. The long ears and short manes are a well defined feature of this beast of burden.

"Wanderers of the Wastelands" vintage postcard of an unknown prospector and his burros. | Courtesy of Orange County Archives.
“Wanderers of the Wastelands” vintage postcard of an unknown prospector and his burros. | Courtesy of Orange County Archives.

Today, all across the desert, the little burrow can be seen in a variety of locations including, Mountain Pass California, Beatty Nevada, and Oatman Arizona. The great state of Nevada established the Marietta Wild Burro Range. The Marietta Wild Burro Range sets aside 68,000 acres. The range is managed principally, but not exclusively for the population of 100 or so, burrow in the area. The burros freely roam near the ruins of the historic Nevada mining town of Marietta.

It is not uncommon for them to approach people looking for hand outs. It is a common practice to pass laws prohibiting the feeding of burrow.


Species:E. africanus
Subspecies:E. a. asinus


Atolia California – San Bernardino County Ghost Town

Atolia is a ghost town and tungsten mine located in the Mojave Desert in northwestern San Bernardino County, California. The town is located just off the scenic 395 highway near Randsberg, California.

Atolia and mine in the Mojave Desert, circa 1908 postcard.
Atolia and mine in the Mojave Desert, circa 1908 postcard.

The town’s named was created from the combination for two mining company officials, Atkins and DeGolia, The site started as a tungsten mine in 1905. The town peaked around the time of World War II, when it is known as the largest producer of tungsten in the world. Despite this honor growth is hindered and the town is overshadowed by towns producing more glamorous metals such as gold and siler. Tungsten is a common component used to harden steel alloys. Prior to World War II, Germany is one of Atolia’s largest customers, when their trade access is severed with the formation of British Blockades.

Not to be outdone, the Germans developed cargo submarines known as U-Boats to run the blockade. On July 9th, 1916 the German U-Boat “Deutschland” arrived in Baltimore, Maryland to be loaded with tungsten from Atolia. The town reached a population of 2,000 people during World War I. Following the great war, demand for tungsten plummeted along with its price. The price dropped caused the tungsten mines for close.

There was a brief resurgence in Atolia during World War II, when demand for hardened steel opened the mines again for a brief moment in time.

Atolia Town Map

Town Summary

NameAtolia California
LocationMojave Desert, San Bernardino County, California
Latitude, Longitude35.3147387,-117.6170878
Elevation3,280 Feet
Post Office1906 – 1922, 1927 – 1944


Ivanpah California – San Bernardino County Ghost Town

Not of be confused with two others sites of the same name, Ivanpah is a ghost town and mine site located along the Eastern edge of San Bernardino County, California. Rich Silver deposits found on the lower slopes of Clark Mountain lead to the founding on the town in 1869.

Ivanpah - Bidwell Mill
Ivanpah – Bidwell Mill

The Piute Company of California and Nevada was funding the prospecting for Copper in the area when the rich silver ore is discovered. The company quickly laid out a townsite near “Willow Springs” and named the site “Ivanpah” which is the a Native American word for “Clear Water.”

By 1871, Ivanpah is a well know and flourishing trading post. The town itself is host to fifteen well built adobe buildings which include a hotel, two stores, several small houses and the head quarters for the Piute Company of California and Nevada. In 1875 a 5-stamp mill in constructed by the McFarlane brothers. The Lizzie Bullock mine receives a larger 10-stamp mill built by JA Bidwell. A Post Office is founded in 1878 and the following year the foot print of buildings includes o saloons, two stores, two blacksmith shops, two shoemakers’ shops, two hotels, two hay yards, a butcher shop, and several “neat and comfortable” houses.

Ivanpah was host to several mines in the nearby Mineral hills including Hite & Chatfield (renamed to Lizzie Bullock), the monitor and the Beatrice which is owned by Andrew, John, Tom and William McFarland.

The founding of Providence and Calico pulled interest away from Ivanpah, and the ore loosing its quality and value doomed the town to history.

Ivanpah Town Map

Town Summary

Also Known AsIvanpah I
LocationSan Bernardino, California
Latitude, Longitude35.545, -115.535278
Elevation4,880 Feet
Active1869 – 1898
Population100 – 300
Post Office1878 – 1899
News PaperGreen-Eyed Monster 1880


Calico California – San Bernardino Count Ghost Town

Calico California is a ghost town located just outside of Barstow in Mojave desert of San Bernardino, California. The town began its like in 1881 when four miners from Grapevine Station (present day Barstow) began prospecting the “Calico Colored” mountains to the north east. The prospectors soon found the Silver King Mine, which was the largest producer of Silver in California in the 1880’s.

Calico California
Calico California

The prospectors were grubstaked by John C. King for whom the the Silver King Mine was named. John King also served as the San Bernardino County Sherriff from 1879 to 1882.  The post office is added to the town in 1882 along with the publishing on the newspaper the Calico Print which is published weekly. A typical assortment of business are started to support the mining efforts including three hotels, bars, brothels, boarding hoses, restaurants and a Wells Fargo office.

During the heyday, Calico boasted 500 mines, 3,500 townspeople, two constables, a deputy sheriff, two attorneys, two doctors and a boot hill cemetery. In 1890, the Silver Purchase Act drove down the price of silver and the decrease in profits made the town no longer economically viable. Future attempts at a rebirth and revival failed.

Miner and workmen crews at the Silver King Mine — in the Calico mining district, Mojave Desert, southern California.
Miner and workmen crews at the Silver King Mine — in the Calico mining district, Mojave Desert, southern California.

The town was purchase from Zenda Mining Company in 1951 by Walter Knot. It so happened, that Walter Knott was the nephew of John C. King and the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm. Mr. Knott invested over $700,000 restoring Calico in an attempt the create a road side attraction. Some of the original buildings are removed and replaced with facades similar in construction to a Hollywood set. Despite this fact, Calico played an important role and holds a special place in California history.

Calico Trail Map

Town Summary

NameCalico, California
LocationSan Bernardino County, California
Latitude, Longitude34.948889, -116.864167
Elevation2,285 feet
Post Office1882 – 1898
NewspaperCalico Print


Doble California – San Bernardino Ghost Town

Doble California is a gold mining town and ghost town which is located off the western shore of Lake Baldwin in San Bernardino, California. The town began life as Bairdstown in 1873 when the Carter brothers filed a gold mine claim. The original town was named for Samuel Baird who was instrumental in securing financing from San Francisco and the capital to establish larger scale mining operations. Baird purchased the two richest claims from the Carter brothers in December of 1873 for a sum of $30,000. This “buyout” served as an impressive buyout for the short run of the Carter brothers.

One of these capitol investors was Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909)  and known as was “one of the greatest pioneers” of California business, an investor, and real estate speculator during the second half of the 19th century.

Baldwin moved to Virginia City during to rush on the Comstock Load. Opening a livery the savvy businessman soon acquired interests the Ophir Mine in the came from the Motherlode of Virginia City. Baldwin leveraged his profits from the Ophir Mine to acquire shares in the Hale & Norcross and Crown Point at the north end of the Comstock Lode.

Baldwin’s new company built a road from Cactus Flats to Big Bear. This new route allowed for the hauling in machinery and parts for the huge 40-stamp mill to process the ore from the mines. The town was establised on the valley floor almost directly below the new mill.  By September of 1874, the town boasts a blacksmith shop, a butcher, two boarding houses, and two saloons. Later, three general stores, two stables, three restaurants, two hotels, a bakery, a meat market, a Chinese wash house, tailor, shoemaker, and barber rounded our the businesses who serviced the miners and citizens of the small hamlet.

The mill was fired for the first time on March 6, 1875. The noise from the steam powered monster filled the valley of Big Bear as it processes 100 tons of ore per day. Despite this milestone, the town shutdown later in 1875 due to poor ore quality and the townsite is refereed to as Gold Mountain.

in 1894, Lucky’s son in-law, Budd Doble took invested $25,000 to reopen the mine and mill. The town was renamed in his honor and a small post office cemented this named into history. This town on Doble succumbed to poor profits and relegated to history in 1903

Today access to the Doble townsite is limited by the Forest Service due to recent fire damage.

Doble Mine, San Bernardino County, 1930 - Photography by Adelbert Bartlett, UCLA Library Digital Collections
Doble Mine, San Bernardino County, 1930 – Photography by Adelbert Bartlett, UCLA Library Digital Collections

Doble Town Summary

NameDoble California
LocationBig Bear, San Bernarino, California
Also Known AsBairdstown, Gold Mountain
Latitude, Longitude34.2986169,-116.8216958

Doble Town Map