Some great news. My book, “Randsburg” The Mojave Desert’s Liveliest Ghost Town,” will now be available on store shelves at Red Rock Books in Ridgecrest, California! That makes three stores who stock and sell this book.
Posts tagged ‘history’
I have finally motivated myself to change up the official description of my book. No doubt I can do more, but it is a start, LOL!
The new description:
A combination history, photographic journey and travel guide to the historic living ghost town of Randsburg, California, located in the Mojave Desert. Take a step back in time and live the Old West! This old mining town has a lot of tales to tell, some of which you will find in the pages of this book. With a population of nearly 3000 in it’s hey day, Randsburg saw it’s share of excitement, murder, hi-jinks and disasters, often gaining mention in the larger newspapers. See where Billy Bob Thornton made his supporting speaking role debut in the movie “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.” After months of thorough research I reveal the true identity of Randsburg’s most famous red-light madam, French Marguerite. Read the scandalous headlines about the woman vampire seeking new virgin blood! Explore the stories of some of those buried in the Rand District cemetery, who, until now, have been forgotten to history. Learn all the details behind the murder of Emily Davidson, shot dead on Butte Avenue in broad daylight by her husband. You will also learn about some of Randsburg’s current residents and shop keepers, and how they manage to keep the history of Randsburg alive for future generations. Full of photographs, both color and black & white.
The people of early Randsburg could never be accused of doing things in small measure, and the wedding of Edgar Scott and Lottie Van Norman was no exception, with the ceremony taking place at the town’s skating rink! The occasion was important enough to receive mention in both the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union and the San Francisco Call newspapers. The following is from a flyer that was printed and distributed to the community to announce the wedding…
Randsburg Will Celebrate Her First Wedding on Monday April 1-.
MR. EDGAR SCOTT
MISS LOTTIE VAN NORMAN
Will be united in marriage at the Skating Rink at 7 p. m. The hearty co-operation of every citizen of Randsburg and vicinity is solicited to make this a memorable event in the history of our camp.
A procession composed of the bridal party, city officials, miners, tradesmen and citizens will form at 7: p. m. on upper Butte avenue, and proceed down Butte avenue to Rand, up Rand to Broadway, down Broadway to Butte avenue, up Butte avenue to the rink. The ceremony will be performed by Judge Maginnis, after which a reception will be tendered the couple. The guests will be entertained during the evening with a suitable programme,
1. Street parade.
2. Wedding ceremony.
4. Address by Chairman Clarke.
5. Toasts— “Our Camp, Its Past, Present and Future Possibilities”
6.”Our Country”; music, vocal and instrumental; “Our Homes”; “Our Ladies”; Grand barbecue; moonlight burro race on Butte Avenue; Grand ball at rink, commencing at 11:30 p. m. .Grand floral decorations.
W. W. Clarke, Chairman of Committee. H. E. de Remer, Secretary.
A couple of excerpts from the newspapers give us a bit more information about the celebration, giving us a glimpse into a past when community spirit was an important and welcome part of people’s lives.
From the Los Angeles Times, dated April 18, 1897:
“The skating rink is a building 40 x 60 feet, with a splendid floor for dancing, and for this occasion was beautifully decorated with flowers, yucca palms and cactus. The decorations were really beautiful, and gave evidence of much painstaking care and hard work on the part of the ladies having the matter in charge. A platform two steps up and 6 x 12 feet had been erected, the floor of which was carpeted, and it was closed in by a framework reaching to the ceiling, tastefully covered with lace curtains and wild desert flowers, with branches of the yucca tree in full bloom at each corner, while overhead hung a bell made of buttercups and purple wild flowers, with the words “Good Cheer” worked in buttercups across a frame at the front. The chandeliers were trimmed with wild flowers, and branches of greasewood, intermingled with wild flowers, decorated every post and girder in the building.”
This edition of the Los Angeles Times also tells us that…
“Just before 7 o’clock the procession formed, the left resting in Fiddler’s Gulch, the right at the skating rink, with the bridal party in one of Mr. Miller’s mail coaches, drawn by four high-spirited horses. Next came the family physician, with the relatives of the bride, in a decorated wagon. This was followed by a three-seated surrey containing Mrs. Squires and a party of ladies from the Hotel Johannesburg. These were followed by the city officials, miners with their guns, tradesmen, artisans, some on foot, some on horseback, winding up with a contingent of small boys on donkeys, with several frisky little baby donkeys ambling along in the rear.”
The San Diego Union article, dated April 22, 1897 provides us with interesting tidbits as well…
“Judge Maginnis tried to kiss the bride after the knot was tied, and her resistance caused a great commotion. The Judge was finally outwitted, and to avoid possible trouble, set ‘em up to the groom several times before morning.”
The San Diego Union also gives us evidence of the generosity of the Randsburg community to their newest wedded couple…
“The gifts received by the happy pair, who sat on a raised platform during the reception following their nuptials, included a town lot, mattress, blanket, frying-pan, bottle of whisky from the postmaster, bottle of spirits, two hams, two buckets of lard, one more ham, several dollars in cash, and six months free medical service.”
The Los Angeles Times, also mentioning the gifts, tells us that the town lot given to the couple, located behind the Orpheus Theater, measured 50 x 150 feet, and that the couple were also gifted with a couple of bedsteads.
Some biographical information:
Edgar J. Scott was born in Illinois in November 1st, 1866. His mother’s maiden name was Arnold.
Louise “Lottie” Van Norman was born October 21st, 1871 in Texas. Her mother’s maiden name was Clements.
By 1900 the couple were living in Los Angeles and had a son, aged 2 years, named Vivian Norman Scott. His date of birth
In 1910 the family are now living in San Gabriel, California and another son, Vincent, has been added to the family. He was born June 1st, 1901.
Son Vivian marries circa 1917, Germaine Vontomme, an immigrant from Belgium.
By 1920 we find the family living in Independence Precinct 1, Inyo County, California.
The 1930 census lists Edgar and Lottie as again living in Los Angeles, CA.
The 1940 census shows that Edgar and Lottie remained in Los Angeles, CA.
Edgar passed away in Los Angeles on October 9th, 1942. He is mistakenly listed as “Edward” in the death index, which was a common mistake for the name Edgar.
Lottie died in Los Angeles, California September 8th, 1958.
By Cindy Nunn
By Cindy Nunn
For me, one of the more fascinating aspects of Randsburg is the large numbers of old miner’s houses and cabins that are not only still standing, but are habitable, or nearly so. Quite a few of them are currently being used as full-time or vacation homes, and other than updated appliances and the addition of indoor plumbing, they maintain their original integrity and style. It is hard to imagine that at one time quite large families would live inside the walls of these homes which to us, by modern standards, are quite small and cramped. Regardless of their small size, these old homes of the early mining era exude an aura of charm and warmth.
By Cindy Nunn
By Cindy Nunn
Randsburg, the town proper, has a lot to see which does not require anything more than leisurely wandering up and down the few streets. However, for those who wish to experience the aspect of history which brought Randsburg into existence, such as the Big Butte and King Solomon mines, especially if you have children in tow, you will need some assistance. It is not recommended that you access these sites on your own. First, they are on PRIVATE property, so trespassing is discouraged, and second, the land around the mines is dangerous! I can not emphasis enough just how dangerous it can be to explore these sites without the help of an experienced guide who knows these areas like the back of his hand. Old open mine shafts and dump holes remain a hazard to even the most watchful, as some are covered and hidden by rotting old debris. Rattlesnakes are also a potential threat to your safety. You may be quite happy and willing to endanger yourself for a bit of entertainment, but keep in mind that if you, a family member or a friend, falls into one of these deep dangerous shafts, other people, complete strangers, will also have to endanger themselves in order to rescue the fool who falls in. Many curious adventure seekers have fallen in alive but came back out dead or seriously injured.
Just a few of many old open shafts
I’ve been to the Big Butte and King Solomon mines and both are fascinating sites to visit. My husband and I were fortunate to meet Randy Halgunseth, or, as he is known locally, “Little Randy,” who proved to be not only a knowledgeable and personable guide, but also a good friend. If you are in the Randsburg area and would like to tour not only the mines, but other little known sites, make sure to ask for Randy. Everyone in town knows him and can reach him for you. If you are real lucky he will invite you back to his place afterwards, where you can enjoy one of the best viewing spots to take in all of Randsburg.
By Cindy Nunn
It is obvious, from the fact that I have created a blog, that I LOVE Randsburg, California! To say that the place got under my skin and put the hooks in would be an understatement. Offer me the option between going to, say, Cabo San Lucas or Randsburg, and every time I would choose Randsburg, hands down! Cabo, Paris, Europe, etc… these are great places for those who want a little bit of glitz and glamour, as well as the added service of being waited upon, but for me, the more laid back, casual atmosphere of Randsburg will always be preferable. Because of my love for the place, its history, and current living residents, I wrote a book, which is a combination history, travel guide and photographic memorial. Some of the historic characters from Randsburg’s past, like French Marguerite, the town madam, were a real challenge to research, but unmasking their true identities was a fantastic accomplishment, as well as a fun roller coaster ride. If you like a good mystery to read, while also looking for fun and interesting places to visit, buy a copy of my book and get a little bit of both :)
Official Book Description
Randsburg, California, former booming mining town, now a still lively ghost town.
Founded in 1895 by three miners when they discovered gold, Randsburg quickly boomed into a town with a population of over 3000 people. This desert community even boasted a skating rink before it had a church, and this is where the first official marriage ceremony in Randsburg was conducted. Like other boom towns of the era Randsburg boasted its fair share of saloons and brothels, which provided plenty of fodder for the local and regional newspapers, with everything from brawls to murder.
Now, Randsburg is a bit quieter, with a population of less than 60 people as far as I can find from official records, but in spite of its small size the town remains alive and kicking, with a saloon, bar, general store/restaurant and various shops. The Cottage Hotel / Goat’s Sky Ranch offers rooms as well as refurbished cabins for rent, or, if you prefer, you can book a stay at the Randsburg Inn, formerly the Commercial Hotel, and before that, the dance hall owned by French Marguerite, one of Randsburg’s famous madams.
Randsburg is now a favorite tourist attraction for not only Americans, but people from all over the world. It is also a popular spot for “weekend warriors” who enjoy dirt bike, motorcycle and ATV sports.