Monday, October 25, 2010

YESTERDAY'S PROVIDENCE -- TODAY ( 1963 )

My pulse accelerated withy an old,familiar thrill,keeping time with the pleasant cadence of the winshield wipers,as I approached the little town of Essex,California,through a gentle,desert rainfall.
As I turned north at the highway sign,"Mitchell Caverns State Park--23 miles" and peered between the raindrops at the cloud-banked providence mountains far ahead,I dropped beside the road all the cares and burdens of civilization. They would be waiting there to resume their accustomed places on my shoulder when I returned the next day.
Since two hours before dawn I had been hi-balling it over the freeways from Los Angeles,thru Morongo Canyon,Yucca Valley,Twenty-nine Palms and Amboy. Alone in the little canvas cab of my jeep,I looked forward eagerly to two days of exploring the empty streets,skeleton buildings and rusting dumps of the ghost town of Providence.
This silver-mining town reached the peak of its development about 1889. Although I had seen several Published references to the old town,I was not sure of its exact location,and had only a faint idea of what I would find there if I did find the site. My only clue was a note that it lay some six miles from Mitchell Caverns State Park. My purpose,then, was to visit the state park first and seek directions from the Rangers there.
The park rangers were about the nicest people I had met in a long time. One of them drew a small free-hand sketch of the area and noted the mileages and intersections I would need to find the ghost town of Providence.
Since I was already at the park,I decided to take the guided tour through the caverns. These natural caverns in the limestone strata of the Providence Mountains (only one was open to the public at that time) lay at the 4300 foot level and were formerly used by the indians of the region. Many indian artifacts are on didplay in the park office.
A self-guiding nature trail has been constructed along the mountain side leading to the caves. At intervals,numbered or lettered posts have been set beside the trail and a printed brochure gives a simple,lucid explanation of the designated points of interest. Nearly all common and some uncommon desert plants,fossilized coral,desert varnish and a simply unbelievable vista of the open desert are to be enjoyed along this quarter mile foot trail.
At the cavern itself,called "Tecopa," our guide took from a small cabinet a gasoline lantern,and handed out flashlights to each of us-( there was no electricity in this out of the way place at that time). Just inside the entrance the path dove steeply for a few feet and opened out into a huge,vaulted chamber. From the ceiling hung a maze of stalactites ,barely visable in the beams of our flashlights. Where the curving dome of the roof met the floor, stalactites the size of tree trunks formed a veritable curtain of stone. Into this labyrinth our guide plunged with the aplomb of one entering his own basement. The rest of us,however, followed more slowly, timorous of the strange environment. The passageway was wide enough for only one person at a time,and occasionally,fallen stalactites formed a barrier which we had to clamber over or under.
Wherever the trail widened our guide would pause and give a short talk, while directing our beams to particularly impressive rock formations. Once our lights picked out a scurrying pack rat which had its nest on a high ledge.
Back in the main chamber we were shown the blackened walls where indians had built their fires,and the guide gave an interesting lecture on the phenomena which had created this cavern.
This tour is well worth the time of anyone who is interested in out of the way desert spots. The state park maintains a small campground easily accessible by family car.
However,my destination was the gost town of Providence, so I left the little party chatting with our guide and hurried back to the parking lot.
Five miles back the way I had come I followed a small sign pointing left to the XIL Ranch. The drizzling rain had ceased and the sun was out warm and clear. Rain water steamed in puddles in all the low spots of te rude desert track. Soon the XIL Ranch came into view a couple miles away,but my route lay to the left at an unmarked intersection, down through a "badlands" area, with the road becoming increasingly rough and rocky. I knew I was on the right road,if only because roads to ghost towns are not commonly maintained by county road crews.
Suddenly I looked up. There, a mile away,and looking lonely and disconsolate against the bare mountain, stood half a dozen crumbling stone buildings. Impatiently, I tried to hurry, but the road condition permitted no haste! The ascent steepened as the canyon narrowed, and in second gear I came to a halt in front of the first old building I reached.
Providence is going the way of all old desert ghost towns that are left unguarded. In there present state of dilapidation,it is almost impossible to determine what some of the old buildings were used for. The interiors have been gutted, windows shattered, and wooden floors, if any ripped up.
The structure that now confronted me could have been used as a general store, hotel, restaurant or any number of other businesses. The large concrete front porch was crumbling at the edges. The main portion of the roof was still intact,but it had not kept out very much of the recent rains. One room showed evidence of recent occupation. an old wood -burning stove was set up in one corner, with its rusty stove pipe disappearing though a hole in the roof. In another room I found ,stored, a kitchen sink, two wash basins and several wooden screens which I am sure will be carted away by the first person who may have a use for them.
Just up the slope stood four bare stone walls with mountains of trash between them and a mound of broken glass bottles off to one side. This pile of glass was a sure indication of a former saloon.
Across the street stood the crumbling ruins of several old buildings on the edge of a ravine. I scratched thru the dumps here and uncovered two or three old bottles, one of them a large white Mentholatum jar which I fancied might date back to the turn of the century.
A quarter of a mile up the steep grade, near the mine dumps at the head of the canyon, stood another cluster of decaying buildings. The roofs of two old stone structures had collapsed in a mass of rubble between the walls. Nearby was a complex of frame buildings that must have houses a dining room or boarding house, saloon, and an old assay office, because in a gully behind lay hundreds of broken clay crucibles, which are used by assayers, broken whiskey bottles, and many shattered fragments of old English dinnerware.
These buildings were probably a part of the original town, because in the dump I dug up two very old quart whiskey bottles, dark green and crudely made, heavily opalized from having been burried in the mineral-rich gravel for, probably, three-quarters of a century.
On a promontory overlooking the whole town and the valley below stood the skeleton of a huge frame structure that was surely a hotel, and a large one. Behind it was a large courtyard with stables for horses, a concrete-lined cave, apparently used for storage of perishable food, and several outbuildings. In the yard lay two sets of old wooden-framed bed springs, a twisted bicycle frame, old pots and pans, and mountains of trash left by modern day tourists and campers.
Here I decided to spend the night. A high stone wall would protect me from the ever-present wind, and would reflect the heat of the campfire for warmth.
After a solid meal, with a couple of hours of daylight remaining, I took a long rambling walk through the deserted streets of the old town. I scratched in the dumps desultorily for old bottles, but my mind was not really on the job. I lapsed into a deep reverie, unconsciously recreating the spirit that must have pervaded these mountains seventy five years ago, when Providence was a teeming metropolis of 3500.
Looking down from my lofty promontory, I could see, in my mind's eye, the phantom wraiths of heavily-laden freight wagons struggling up the steep slopes to the town, hear the shouted curses of the teamsters, and smell the stifling dust tht must have constantly filled the air from the clanking mill machinery higher on the mountain. In fancy I pictured the town as it existed when silver was still king. I saw the rough-clad miners descending the mountain after a long day of work, their women , in the floor-length dresses of the day, eagerly awaiting their return. In these brush-grown streets, nameless now, I saw the panorama of a busy people in a busy town, acting out the drama of their little lives. I shared, in retrospect, their hopes of wealth and fame as a reward for enduring the hardships of life in a frontier desert town.
Returning to my camp, bone tired, I built up my fire as darkness fell and sat on my cot sipping scalding cups of coffee. Still in a daze from the acuteness of me phantasy, I almost expected the proprietor of the old hotel behind me to open his door and invite me in. So strong was this feeling that I actually flashed my light at the door-- and returned to reality with a jolt. No genial host would ever again usher his guests through this gaping black hole! The beam of my torch moved over the wall, highlighting the naked studdings held together by broken lath. Through the glassless window frames I could see heaps of fallen masonry and the pile of rubble that was once a stone fireplace ad chimney. Its cheery blaze was extinguished forever.
I awakened in the chill pre-dawn and rekindled my fire. By full daylight, I had broken camp and packed my jeep for another day of exploring, te fantasys of the previous night dispelled by the cheery rays of the early morning sun.
Locking in the front-wheel drive of the jeep, I set out to explore the mountain tracks leading up to the old mines above town.
Here was no scratching of the surface by a lonely prospector! Before me lay the blood and guts nd hopes and fears of thousands, who had freely given of their labor in exchange for the riches that the earth so reluctantly released.
Striking in its symmetry was a perfect cone of mine tailings almost entirely filling the gully in which it stood, and rising for many yards to a sharp apex. At its base lay scattered the corrugated iron, rusting water tanks and miscellaneous bits of machinery from old buildings which had once stood upon the brink of the ravine.
An old wagon road led me high into a little box canyon with walls rising sheer for many feet. The trail became so steep and rocky that even the jeep, in compound low, had difficulty. Reluctantly, I returned to Providance and the huge trash dump where I commenced to dig for old bottles.
This old dump lay in a gully paralleling the road, about a quarter mile below the town proper. Extending for several hundred feet, it consisted mainly in rusting tin cans of all shapes and sizes, and literally hundreds of broken bottles, many of which were the old pottery bottles for Guiness Stout, made in England and shipped to the west coast of americas in the eighteen seventies. While bottle collectors had already picked up the whole surface bottles, flood waters had buried much of the trash in a foot or two of sand and gravel.
Here I dug up an old beer bottle with a bulbous neck and the word "Root" emossed on the bottom. The sun overhead, however, indicated that time was running out. After a last, long hike paralleling the road, during which I found another bottle that must have been thrown from a horse-drawn vehicle many years ago, I washed the desert dust from my face and arms, changed into clean clothes, and pointed my jeep toward civilization.
I paused at the foot of the grade for a last, lingering look back. The ruined stone buildings of Providence gleamed whitely in the desert sun, their gaping window holes staring sightlessly into the vastness of the valley below while, invisibly, the relentless fingers of the encroaching desert continued to pry and probe among the fallen stones.


Written by my dad Elmer Long (1919-2005)
1963

Sunday, December 06, 2009

TEMPIUTE, TWO GHOST TOWNS WITH A SINGLE NAME

Someplace in the high mountains,in that almost uninhabited hundred miles between Hiko and Warm Springs,Nevada, lay the ghost of an old mining camp named Tempiute. I only knew that it had been first settled about 1863.
Road maps show a community named Tempiute in this region, and I had no trouble finding the turnoff. According to the map, the road made a large semicircle,crossed the summit of the mountains, passed through Tempiute and intersected the highway seven miles beyond.
From the outset,however, I had my suspicions. The gravel road was in perfect condition, and it has been my experience that century-old roads on the desert show their age by deep ruts,washboard corrugations and occasional washouts from flash floods. Since there was absolutely no traffic in sight,I kept going in the hope of finding something worth my while.
In a broad canyon,just beyond the mountain summit, I found my ghost. Alas, it was the wrong specter. The only building of any importance in sight was an echoing wooden warehouse, gutted within and half stripped of its unpainted siding. Scattered over the floor of the office in this building were hundreds of mining payroll sheets and ore shipment manifests. This totally abandoned camp was not 100 years old,nor even half that. The papers were dated between 1950 and 1954, and the name was "The Black Hawk Mining Company". (I later found that this was the well-known Lincoln Mine, and the Black Hawk was a leaser.)
Like so many other old camps, I reasoned, Tempiute had been revived in modern times. I simply had to believe that somewhere around I would discover the original 100 year old camp.
For several hours I roamed the area in my jeep, grinding up the dry washes and canyons until they ended in steep cliffs. I located the huge loading chutes of this modern Tempiute, several clusters of ten to twenty-year old miner's cabins, dumps of automobile bodies and modern cans and bottles, but no evidence that this camp had been occupied since about 1940.
Reluctantly, I rolled down the mountain empty handed, and hardly knowing what to do next. Suddenly, there opened up a broad vista of the desert floor 1500 feet below me. In that vast, shimmering valley, somewhere, lay the pavement that would carry me 70 miles north to Warm Springs where I could buy gasoline and maybe find a room for the night.
I took out my binoculars and for long moments studied the desert valley. No road was visible except the single dirt track I was on. Directly below, however, I made out a cluster of buildings that were too far to identify. Maybe a lonely ranch? Another abandoned camp? Perhaps a filling station on the highway which I could not see? (Hopefully ?)
With the mountains well behind me, I intersected a good dirt road which would pass the little "ranch", as I called it in my mind, and in a few minutes I pulled in front of a neat, frame house with a pick-up truck parked in front.
Not until I came to a stop did I notice the man sitting in the cab of the truck, as though he had seen my dust approaching and was waiting to see what I wanted before going about some business of his own.
"Where is the highway?" I asked by a way of greeting. Here I handed him a small tablet through the open window of the truck, explaining that I was deaf.
"They moved it", he replied. (I could not be sure if he was teasing or in earnest.) Staring at my California license plates he added with a smile, " . . .probably to Los Angeles."
" I've got to find the road ! The map says it should be about here, but i don't see a sign of it."
My friend wave negligently at the distant haze as if to say it was out there some where. "What do you do?" he asked. "What is your work?"
I was a bit startled at the question, but told him I was an Aircraft Engineer on vacation, looking for old bottles and somehow managed to misplace Highway 93. His face registered surprise too, but with a welcoming gesture he asked me in for a cup of coffee. His pretty wife, although a little shy, was just as hospitable as her husband. While the coffee perked they showed me their collection of mineral specimens, arrow points, of couple of Carson City silver dollars and a fabulous chunk of ore which they assured me was "100 ounces of pure silver".
Wesley Koyen, as his name turned out to be, was a mining man with several claims in the mountains, a limestone cavern he had discovered and an ore crushing mill. From the window I could barely see the roof of their nearest neighbor some distance away, and beyond ---nothing--- except the flat desert rising gently to the mountains.
I asked Mrs. Koyen, " I'll bet you don't get many visitors out this way?"
She smiled shyly and shook her head, and as she stared across the flat, Nevada landscape a look of indescribable loneliness flitted across her face. I imagined that, for an instant, she was not seeing the sagebrush and purple mountains, but swift-moving waters and towering pines. Then quickly, she was the perfect hostess again, refilling my coffee cup and showing me snapshots of their cavern and 20-ton mill.
"I know where there is a big pile of old bottles, big blue and white ones," Wesley said suddenly. "At Tempiute. Not the Tempiute you just came through, but east of here. That was the Tempiute in 1874! But the bottles are all broken."
"Oh well", I said. "The saloon keeper probable smashed them before hauling them out, so they wouldn't be so bulky. I've seen modern bartenders do the same thing."
Wesley shook his head and a grim look crossed his face. "No! A boy went up there four years ago and deliberately smashed every one with a club. But why don't you go up there and take a look. You might find something he missed."
My watch said 5:30 p.m. and I mentally calculated the time it would take and whether I had enough gas. It was 65 to 70 miles to the next station.
"OK, I'll do it! I said. "Draw me a map so I can find it"
The directions were simply and easy to follow. "Take the road here three miles to the highway and turn left three or four miles till you come to the sign saying, Alamo 46 miles. Just beyond the sign is a big double culvert running under the road. Where the road forks, keep left and you can't miss it. It's three and four-tenths miles from the highway. I go up there all the time."
"Was it a big place?" I asked.
"Not very. There are just half a dozen old stone cabins now." On the sketch he had drawn, he indicated, McBernie's Saloon. Then he made an upside down horseshoe motion with the pencil to show that the bottles were on the other side of the hill, above the saloon.
"Come back tomorrow and I'll put you to work." Wesley grinned as I left. "We start up the mill at eight o'clock sharp."
After many goodbyes, I bumped down the track toward the highway, elated at the luck that had made me stop here.Although it was late , I had no particular schedule to keep, and Old Tempiute sounded like a real adventure.
It was past six O'clock when I located the "Alamo" sign and past the double culvert, turned to enter a dry wash leading into the hills. Snow-capped Mt. Tempiute, which had been in sight off and on all afternoon, was concealed behind the rugged peaks rising directly ahead. Soon I entered a narrow canyon and at a point where the steep slopes rose sharply on either side,the roofless, fallen piles of stone that had been the houses of Tempiute came into view.
I continued through town to the very end,where the road rose steeply to the ruins of an old ore loading chute.Against the massive, almost vertical mountain, it looked like a heap of match sticks which had tumbled from their box. Here I paused to lock in the front wheel drive. Shifting to compound low, I climbed all the way to the base of the chute, wondering at the determination of the hardy men who had driven their teams and wagons over that steep slope.
Turning around with some difficulty, I returned to the center of town. Very few tins were in evidence around the old cabins. Flash floods may have carried everything away. Suddenly my eye caught the glitter of two large bottles lying side by side,but when I picked them up I saw that their necks had been broken off cleanly. My eyes wandered slowly up the steep hillside-- there was another neck less bottle, and near the top three or four which had been which had been smashed to little pieces. My pulse leaped. Quickly I scrambled up the loose gravel , and just over the hill, spread under and around a small pinion pine,lay the pile of blue and white bottles that Wesley Koyen had described.
He had been only too right-- every one was in fragments. Some had only the neck broken off, some were simply "caved in" as from a blow from a club, and still others were shattered as if they had been thrown against a rock. They were big, blue beer bottles with a white film of opalization. The brand on the bottom was the monogram of the old C. Conrad Company of St. Louis,Missouri.
The C. Conrad Company had been absorbed by the Adolphus Buch Glass Manufacturing Company about 1871, and the Conrad initials had not been blown in the glass after that date, although it was carried on the printed label of the beer bottles until about 1920. If unbroken, these bottles would have been worth a lot of money!
Carefully I selected a half a dozen. Three had only small chips the size of a thumbnail broken from the lips. Three more were broken cleanly into four or five pieces, all of which I could gather up and cement together. Even damaged as they were, they were valuable to me. I had never even seen one before!
Down at the road again, beside the wreck of McBernie's Saloon, I found a brown A&D H C (Chambers) which had the letters straight across the bottom instead of in a circle arc. This was a new variant to me. Also, there was a smaller six-ounce brown beer that appeared to be much older-- possibly as early as 1865. The neck was small and in perfect proportion to the size of the bottle, but the applied lip portion was large-- the same size as is usually found on full quart bottles. The copper wire that held the cork in place was still hanging loosely about the neck.
Both of these bottles were in fragments. The vandal had been thorough. I took home all the pieces to reassemble at my leisure.
By the time I had stowed the fragments of the eight bottles it was very late in the evening. Hurriedly, without even pausing to take pictures, I hastened down the canyon and just as the sun dropped behind the mountains I reached the highway and began the long,lonely drive to Warm Springs, more tired by the moment. Darkness came swiftly and I had to stop and top off the gas tank from the jeep cans and put on a heavy coat.
About 9 0"clock a cluster of lights appeared far ahead, and ten minutes later I pulled into the single gas station in Warm Springs.
Climbing stiffly from the jeep, I staggered with fatigue as I inspected the motor. Hunched against the cold wind blowing down the valley, I ordered two quarts of oil. The radiator was o.k., but the jeep can mount on the left side was cracked, so I did not fill the can with gas. Better to carry an empty can than to loose both can and five gallons of gas.
After the attendant had serviced the jeep, I asked if could get something to eat inside.
"Sure," he said. "Anything you want. We can give you a bed, too." Across the street,then , I dimly made out an unlighted "Motel" sign. The meal served at one end of the bar was plain but filling-scalloped potatoes,green beans and a half-pound ground beef steak. Half a dozen local people were clustered around the end of the bar. It amused me that the cook-bartender, a roly-poly little man who looked like t.v. actor George Gobbel, was downing one drink himself for every one he served,and showing no signs of intoxication. I,too,joined the drinkers,and as the stimulating whisky warmed my throat my fatigue dropped away.
I explained my bottle-hunting expedition, and asked, "Where is Tybo?"
A miner in a hard hat answered that he worked at Tybo. "It is just seventeen miles from here and easy to find."
"What about Reveille?" He considered a moment. "Go about thirty miles back the way you came and turn right for six miles."
Both these items of information surprised me. From all I had read,Tybo should be a practically dead town with only one family living there. "Sure, I know Dick Brandt," my informant told me. " He still lives there at Tybo,but he is working his mine and there are many others living there too."
I had thought Reveille to be totally deserted,too, but these people talked as though the mines were all in production.
I decided to go to Tybo in the morning,and, depending on what I found,would either retrace my steps and see Reveille, or go on west to Tonopah and Goldfield.
In my motel room I turned up the thermostat,shaved for the first time in three days,and in a very short time was deep in sleep.

Written by my dad 1919-2005

He added a few foot-notes to this trip some time later. It is worth reading.

Westley Koyen, the friendly rancher I met near Tempiute, was apparently well known as a character in Nevada.
More than twenty years after the events described here I read an article by Richard Menzies in Nevada magazine for April 1988,whose quotation is reprinted here.
"The desert just sort of grows on you," declared Wesley Koyen, pioneer prospector and sole home-owner In Penoyer Valley near Hiko. Wes had become indigenous, as tough and resourceful as the legendary screwtail fish which,according to Koyen, inhabits the Playas of Southern Nevada and survive drought by auguring downward into the sand until it finds ground water."


Friday, December 04, 2009

White Hills Is Dead

During the early days of the West, most Indian tribes were aware of the location of numerous gold and silver deposits which so aroused the stupidity of the white man.
From observing the metamorphosis that came over the palefaces at the sight of precious metal, the Indian knew, with a primitive omniscience, that the revelation of these secret places of the desert could only bring disaster to him and his people.
A notable exception to this rule was a certain Hulapi Indian named Jeff who, in the early 1890's, made his home in the bleak and rugged desert region a few miles south of the Colorado River, in what was then Arizona Territory.
In exchange for some trifling trinket, he led a white friend to an outcropping of silver so rich as to be almost unbelievable. The fears of the Tribal Elders were soon justified, because within a few short months, literally thousands of white men were crawling over the hills like ants around a honey jar. The booming town of White Hills, which sprang overnight, became a crossroads and a Mecca for, it seemed, all the lawless drifters of the west.
No water at all was available at this remote camp, and by the time it was freighted in by mule or ox team, the price of a glass of water was very nearly equal to that of whiskey, of which there never seemed enough.
Saloons and gaming houses operated continuously around the clock; the sound of gunfire in the streets was heard so frequently that the little cemetery on the edge of town began to rival that of the notorious Tombstone, far to the south.
Like so many other boom towns of the day, White Hills burned itself out in a few short years. Little is left today. Half a dozen tottering frame buildings, mounds of tin cans crumbling with rust, tons of broken glass bottles and pock-marked slopes of the mountain backdrop forming a natural amphitheater, are the only indications that a city once stood here.
Two cemeteries remain, but many open graves show, that on the whole, even the dead have abandoned the place. A couple of miles up in the hills stands a huge, empty reservoir, which the promoters of the town believed, would supply the water needs of the people. The reservoir was never filled !
On highway 93, about 30 miles south of Boulder Dam, an Arizona Historical Monument points to the dirt track which leads to White Hills, eight miles to the north. The setting up of this monument spelled out the final demise of this old town. With their attention thus called to a hitherto forgotten village, thousands of tourists have, out of curiosity, negotiated the dusty desert road to visit the site and, finding it totally unguarded, they helped themselves to what ever they desired. All that was useless to them they have wantonly destroyed.
When I visited White Hills in the spring of 1963, seven old frame structures were still standing near what was the center of town. Two others were in a state of total collapse, with rotting timbers still lying where they had fallen.
Six carloads of tourists were poking around in the ruins, mostly people from out of state. They stared with undisguised interest as my business-like jeep passed them, but I continued on to the upper reaches of the town where I could have some solitude. Here, on the steep slopes of the hills, were many foundations and "basement holes" of long-vanished buildings. That some has been saloons there could be no doubt, because tons of fragmented pieces of blue and purple glass littered the ground.
This area had been thoroughly dug up by bottle and souvenir hunters. I found horse shoes, a beautiful mother-of-pearl button from a woman's dress and the broken glass lid of lady's powder box bearing the words "Wellman Peck & Co San Francisco Melrose Brand", within a geometrical heart design.
Seeing that it was practically useless to dig among the broken shards of glass, I moved over to the foundations of the buildings, I uncovered a perfect jewel of an off-white pottery bottle, in the pint size, such as was imported from the British Isles in the 1870's.
Made by hand, with the aid of a potter's wheel, it is said that these cheapest of bottles of the day were often shipped from England as ballast in the holds of sailing vessels, sold and filled with potables at San Francisco or Los Angeles, and then distributed to all the mining camps and outposts of the West. More durable than glass bottles, they were frequently used over and over again, after being drained of their first contents.
This specimen, I deduced, may have been in use at the free-lunch counter of a saloon and may have served as a container for catsup or meat sauce. The half-inch segments of bone I found in the soil were the "round bones" from innumerable steaks or roasts of beef that the saloon keeper had set out for his hungry customers. On the other hand, this old earthen bottle may have been simply drained of its original ale or beer by a thirsty miner and then cast onto the bare earth floor where it eventually became buried in sawdust and refuse.
After lunch I took my jeep into the hills, following the old wagon roads to the mines. Steep and narrow, these roads, cut from the precipitous sides of the mountain, had not been used for years. Every few yards, deep mine shafts opened beside the road wit flat, wide built-up areas of tailing from the shaft falling off steeply into the ravine.
These "glory holes" were excavated at forty-five or sixty degree angles into the hillside. Some even had wooden steps sloping to the floor of the tunnel which, after 60 years or more, were still in very good condition.
By the time I returned to the town, the horde of tourists had departed and I was able to examine the buildings more closely. Most were large, frame structures, some with basements, and located at the center of town as they were, they had housed business establishments of various kinds. They had been more solidly constructed than the rude miners' cabins in the residential areas and for that reason they had better withstood the ravages of time.
In the rear of one of these skeleton structures was a large, leveled area surrounded by a neat rectangle of loosely laid desert stones serving as a low retaining wall. This had been a courtyard and was originally fenced with the slender, thorny withes of the ocatillo. Stables and other structures may once have been within the enclosure, but if so, not a sign of them remained.
Some distance below town, an almost obliterated dirt track led me to one of the town's two cemeteries. In this desolate scene, two things stood out above all the rest. First each grave had been piled high with heavy boulders, which gave the impression of a platform raised several feet above the desert. Secondly, nearly every one of the graves had been opened and the coffins removed. These gaping holes were extremely depressing, for I pictured the work of ghouls and body-snatcher pilfering the graves of the unresisting dead. Later, of course, I discovered a much more prosaic reason for the seeming vandalism. After the town had been completely abandoned, many relatives of the deceased had moved the remains of their loved ones to more congenial climates. The laborers did not trouble to refill the empty graves.
White Hills is not only a ghost town, it is a dead town ! While I could see the dim trails, shaky frame houses and dozens of foundations, and although the tin-can dumps, mounds of colored glass and abandoned mining equipment were abundant evidence of a once thriving community, I sensed no specters of the past walking, invisibly, by my side.
The freshly bull-dozed roads of encroaching real estate developments seemed to be severing all ties with the past and the locust-hordes of tourists, with their blinking camera shutters, were enough to alienate the most nostalgic ghost.
The very bones of the dead had shaken off the dust of the desert and had left their open grave pits to stare at the empty sky.

Dad's trip to White Hills, Arizona in 1963 as told by himself (1919 - 2005 )

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ARMED FORCES NETWORK FILM CLIP

This is an Armed Forces Network film clip of the Bottle Tree Ranch.


video

The search for Vanderbilt, Manvel and Lanfair

Vanderbilt, Calif.


A spur line of the Santa Fe Railway was built from Goff's to Ivanpah. Vanderbilt was a station on this old railroad, and also the name given to the mining district.
A United States Post Office was established at Vanderbilt on February 1 1893.
The name Vanderbilt was given to the town and the district in the hopes that it would prove to be as rich as the famous family in the East, bearing that name.
As of 1963, the railway spur has long since vanished and the ties and rails removed. The present road to Vanderbilt follows the old railroad bed for one mile. The C. C. Darling Mine still operates in the area,but not on the site of the old town. Half a dozen crumbling old wooden buildings remain,as well as some rusting mining machinery.
After 1964, the C. C. Darling Mine was sold and the entire property, including Vanderbilt is posted " No Trespassing. "

Manvel, California ( Now called Barnwell )
Manvel was another station on the same Santa Fe spur as Vanderbilt, about 5 miles South.
It was named for A. A. Manvel, President of the Santa Fe Railway. Its U. S. Post Office was established on March 30 1893.
Quite a few old frame buildings still stood as of 1963. The town was still occupied,apparently, until about 1952.

Dads trip to Vanderbilt as told by himself 1963

It took two or three months, during the early winter of 1963, to track down the location of the ghost town of Vanderbilt. I had seen the town mentioned in an index of California ghost towns, and I had been told that there was an interesting article on the old camp in a back issue of a certain magazine, but I was unable to locate that issue from the publisher. Finally, I wrote to the Mitchell's Cavern State Park people who had so kindly directed me to Providence a few months previously.
The prompt reply to my query was just what I needed. Complete with a hand-drawn map, mileage notations and visible landmarks. It not only guided me to the town of Vanderbilt but indicated that I would pass two other ghost towns on the road: the abandoned site of an old dry-farming community called Lanfair, and a mining camp named, variously, Manvel or Barnwell.
I laid my plans for a week-end in the middle of January 1963. Disregarding all warnings that the desert in that region was subject to gusty winds, below zero freezing weather and sandstorms at that time of year, I loaded the jeep ( 46 Willy's ) , with equipment for an overnight camp and, at 2:30 Saturday morning after only two hours sleep, I pointed my Four-wheeler toward the distant New York Mountains of Eastern San Bernardino County.
My clothing, that cold morning, consisted of thermal underwear, wool hunting jacket, wool sweater, fleece-lined jacket and a hooded sweat shirt, over all of which I pulled a heavy, three-quarter length car coat. On my head I wore a foam rubber-lined cap with earflaps, and of course wore heavy gloves on my hands. One might guess that my jeep had no heater, and the thin canvas top was no ways windproof.
Thus guarded against the elements, I could laugh away all the fearful admonitions of my friends and family. Was I not, by now an experienced desert rat?
I was right, at first. For the entire 250 miles to Goff's, California, near U. S. Highway 66, I rode as cozily in the drafty cab of the jeep as though I were sitting in my own living room.
Swinging North on the Ivanpah-Goff's road, a bulldozed track of dirt and gravel, I gave a self-satisfied smile as the early morning sun began to warm up the landscape. Within half an hour I had located the site of Lanfair, at the junction of my dirt road to Cima.
Here I found only old concrete foundations of buildings and a ruined water tank. I was unable to see any sign of trash dumps so, since my object was old bottles, and since the wind was a little sharp here, I left the site of Lanfair behind me and crossed Lanfair Valley until I had entered a low range of mountains.
The road had been climbing for some time, and in the hills the sky was overcast. I passed the OX Ranch without stopping, and a few miles farther, on a mountain slope to my left, I spotted many scattered frame buildings, obviously abandoned and falling into ruin. This, I was sure, must be the old town of Barnwell, or Manvel.
I spent two lonely hours here examining the ols buildings and going through the dumps. Three little brown pill bottles about half an inch in diameter and three inches long went into my pocket, as well as a sun-blued " Absorbine, Jr. bottle, a " cathedral " type bottle and several more of a similar nature. Most of these had screw caps, however, and would have little value. They would suffice to be happy reminders of the trip.
Four or five miles North of Manvel I found the little road sign I was looking for. Pointing to the hills on the right it read " C. C. Darling Mine."
This little road was no more than a couple of wheel ruts, and it ran as straight as an arrow through a deep cut in the hills. It dawned on me that this was an old railroad bed with the steel rails and wooden ties removed. Once through the cut in the hills a deep,inverted v-shaped rock and earth fill carried the road across a deep gorge.
I felt very puny as I bounced along, for the steep sides of the fill dropped sharply for many many6 feet,while the apex of the vee which carried the road, was not more than 10 or 12 feet wide. ( near the center of the gorge a slide had narrowed the track to only a little wider than my jeep! ) Gingerly I inched past this danger point, very conscious of what would happen to me and my jeep if the road gave way under us!
Crossing several more cuts and fills, always ascending, I soon found myself among the high , rolling peaks of the New York Mountains. " Rolling Peaks" is, perhaps not quite the proper description, since the hills were quite steep but there were no verticle escarpments in the area.
Higher still, and to my right, and half mile or so away from the railroad bed, I could see the crumbling shacks of Vanderbilt.
This was real four-wheel drive country, and long before I reached the uppermost building in town, I was using compound low gear.
An old tipsy-looking building, a false-front store, first attracted my attention. It presented a sad appearance,and as I crossed the threshold of the doorless aperture I felt a distinct shudder pass through the entire structure. In the main store room merchandise shelves lined two walls clear to the ceiling, and on the floor were wooden bins for the display of dried beans,potatoes and other products, after the fashion of fifty years ago. Everywhere the dust and debris was evident.
Even now, the wind was icy on my face.It entered boldly through the doors and windows, felt its way between the broken, rotting floorboards.
In the kitchen the rusting wreck of an old wood-burning stove lay on its side, and a loose window screen frame thumped insistently in the wind. Other near by buildings were in even worse shape. Tho had given up the long struggle and had collapsed into piles of rubble. Others still stood, drunkenly,with one or more walls lying on the ground, waiting for the final storm that would send them, too, crashing to the ground.
Discovering a trash heap in a deep ravine, I descended and soon worked up a sweat digging for the old bottles. The first was a small green bottle with the label still on it,but so damaged that no lettering was legible. However, in the center of the label I could make out the familiar outline of a cat; so I knew this one had contained Guiness Foreign Extra Stout, imported from Dublin, Ireland.
The next one I dug up was also dark green,but of a different shape. Wonder of wonders, it was a " three -piece mold" bottle which I had seen described but never saw the real bottle before. The lower portion had been made in a so-called "turn mold" and the bottle then rotated so that the lower mold lines were eliminated. The upper portion was made between two hinged sides of the molod forming the shoulders and neck. The bottle was still corked with a small amount of liquid in it which turned out to be water that had seeped in around the cork. Embossed in half-inch letters on the upper shoulder was the curious legend, "No. 4."
The last bottle I found was the most interesting, if not the most valuable. It was a small, purple drug store bottle, and in the panel on one side were the words "Frank M. Towne, Pharmacist. San Bernardino, Cal. Open all night."
This bottle was marred slightly by a small chip in the lip. It was heavily opalized from the mineral-rich soil. I picked up several other bottles of more recent vintage, one being an amber or "wheat" colored catsup-type bottle with horizontal rings around the base and shoulder. The legend on the bottom read "packed by Calif. Cons."
In the deep ravine where I was working, I was not aware of any change in the weather, but when I climbed back to where I had parked my jeep I was almost swept off my feet by gusts of freezing wind. Against this driving force I could not even stand steady enough to take pictures with my camera! The canvas cab of the jeep belled and billowed until I thought it was going to take off like a kite. The sun had disappeared completely, and what I took to be low cloud masses were skudding across the sky. A strange, acrid odor filled my nostrils, and only then did I realize that the overcast was not clouds, but alkali dust that the winds had carried into the mountains.
It was imperative that I get out of the wind if I were to set up camp and make my noon day lunch-- but where? None of the old houses were windproof, and probably not even safe; The only spots that offered any protection at all were the deep ravines, but their sides were so steep and rocky that it was out of the question to make camp there.
Inside the jeep, the wind was not so unpleasant, so I ate a couple of cold sandwiches and had hot coffee from my thermos. Then, in low gear, I investigated every spot in the whole town and its environs, without finding a single place where the fingers of the wind could not reach me.
As the moments passed, the velocity of the wind increased perceptably, and little by little the atmosphere took on a sinister and forbidding look. No longer was this a cheery little ghost town dozing in the sun: rather, the old houses were seen for what they really were-- fleshless skeletons rattling their bones. This was the desert in another mood, one which I had never witnessed before. I felt the menace of a force that had to be respected.
I had not seen another human being since I left the highway five hours before. Should an accident happen in these lonely hills, no one would know, and there were no chance passers-by in this remote spot to whom I could appeal for help. Reluctantly, then I headed the jeep down hill, with many a backward glance. Meeting the wind head on, I rode the old railroad bed back to the Goff's-Ivanpah road and turned to the North.
In a few moments I passed through the little railroad siding community of Ivanpah. I saw no people, but every house seemed to have a pack of rangy dogs huddled in the lee of the buildings. Desert-wise, they simply looked up and bristled as I passed, but made no attempt to buck the storm to chase my car!
Intersecting the freeway from Las Vegas thirteen miles farther on, I joined the pack of automobiles struggling against the wind towards Los Angeles. High-powered engines that normally pushed their cars along easily at 70 or 80 miles an hour were crawling at 40 or 50. My little jeep, when going up grade, was often slowed to 25 or 30.
The stink of alkali grew stronger as I approached the town of Baker and Soda Dry Lake. Clouds of dust swept over the freeway, reducing visibility sharply.
A few miles past Halloran Summit, where I had stopped for gas and a cup, of coffee, such a blast of wind struck the jeep that I thought the little vehicle would be blown right off the road. The windshield wiper blade was torn from its arm and a few minutes later the outside rear view mirror vanished.
With eyes burning from the sand and a thick grey film of alkali dust coating everything, I descended Cajon Pass and,free of the wind at last,rolled into a service station at San Bernardino. Here I was able to wash up. I had a quick lunch and, rested, covered the last seventy five miles uneventfully, reaching home just a little after 9 p. m.
While my 600 mile trip was a decided success, since I had located the three ghost towns I had set out to find, and had actually brought a dozen or more bottles,it was also a failure in that I was unable to camp there overnight as I had intended.
The desert was, indeed, in a hostile mood. I learned still another lesson: no matter how well-equipped,or how experienced a man may be, the desert is still the stronger entity, and the explorer will do well to remember this when the winds howl and the sands of the desert take to the sir!

Elmer Long ( 1919-2005 )

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To whom it may concern

Oct 21 2007
Just a few little things you need to know about the black and tan Chihuahua you have taken from me this afternoon.
1. His name is Charlie
2.He was born April 3 2006
3.He has had all his shots
4.He likes Kibbles'n Bits as a snack and eats one chicken leg chopped up fine for dinner
5.He has a good heart

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ludlow California

This excursion to Ludlow, California was one of the last trips my father and I had been on together before I had left home for good. My father, Elmer Long, wrote this in 1964. Keep in mind that much of what he had written about in that period is now no longer in existence. Time has also taken my father. All that is left are some of the bottles and many of the precious moments associated with them. Like the bottles, the stories should be shared.

This is from Rider's "CALIFORNIA, A GUIDEBOOK FOR TRAVELERS ", McMillan & Co., N.Y., 1925.

In 1925, Ludlow had a population of 125. Today the count is 75 (1964).

It was an important rail junction, the Tonopah and Tidewater Railway coming from Goldfield, Nevada, joined the Atlantic and Pacific tracks here, to make contact with both coasts. Running south was a small spur line to the Bagdad-Roosevelt mine. (Present site of the ghost town of Camp Rochester, or Stedman.)

Through Ludlow, too, came the borax from the mines at Death Valley, carried in the cars of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railway.

GHOSTS IN LUDLOW
Ludlow, California, is no ghost town, but many a restless ghost roams its back streets.
The weary motorist, racing over the bleak, flat desert between Barstow and Amboy, is usually ready for a little break by the time he reaches Ludlow. Not a very prepossessing town, it still offers a decent roadside cafe, a garage and service station and a motel. And that is just about all there is left of Ludlow ! ( The living Ludlow, that is. )
Most travelers who stop here to stretch their legs and have a cool drink never get off the pavement. Were they to drive a few blocks south to the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway they would easily find the ghosts of Ludlow's departed past.
Of course the main street of old Ludlow faced the railway tracks. After all, the daily trains halting here brought all the visitors, the food, medicine, equipment and all the necessities of life on the desert. This was, unblushingly, a railroad town, and very little else counted for anything.

The Main Street today has lost its character, although some indications of its former importance are still visible. At the west end of town we can still read the faded lettering on the large, empty, barn-like structure that was Murphy Bros. General store. (The legend over the entrance reads “Ludlow Mercantile Co. 1908.) A few blocks east, one finds a vacant white frame store with gold lettering still on the plate glass window, “Lee’s General Store”. Inside the window of Lee’s hangs a faded sign CLOSED; dust has gathered on both sides of the glass and the whole structure has the unmistakable air of abandonment. (Note, Lee’s was burned down about 1970.) Murphy’s is a mere shell standing alone at the west end of town and between these two derelicts lie the foundations of many of the buildings that once made up the business district of Ludlow in the old days. For several blocks north the concrete slabs are crumbling now, indicating the size of Ludlow’s old residential section here and there one sees a single, weather beaten house with a truck or car parked and family washing flapping in the breeze. Here dwell the few residents who still cling to this desert whistle stop on a transcontinental highway. They have turned their backs on the railroad, which gave birth to their town and face the future with the automobile highway.

Bumping across five sets of track to the south, more specters may be found. Perhaps a dozen weather beaten shacks still stand. Their condition varies from “barely habitable” to total ruin. And beyond this single ghostly street the desert glitters with the sparkle of sun-tinted glass fragments. The old tin can sumps, more than anything else, indicate the number of people who made their homes here.

Trains still pass through Ludlow daily, but they rarely stop. Their powerful diesel engines do not depend on little stations like Ludlow for water.

West of town lies the ruins of the old switching yards that were Ludlow’s main reason for existence. Row on row of evenly spaced railway ties, marching into oblivion, lies half buried in drifting sand. Here, too, are more foundations and “cellar holes” marking the sites of buildings that house the multitudinous railroad activity of the yards. My son, Elmer, and I drove our jeep all through this area, utterly fascinated with the story we were able to reconstruct from the visible evidence on the ground.

We had come here intending to search for the ghost mining camp of Baghdad-Chase (Camp Rochester, or Stedman) some nine miles south. Old bottles, of course, were our objectives. However, the glass-littered dumps of Ludlow itself proved to be so attractive, from a bottle standpoint, that it was many hours before we could tear ourselves away.

Under the floor of one of the abandoned houses, my son found an old pint whiskey bottle, of the type that I used to sell to the bootleggers as a kid, during the years of prohibition. Meanwhile, searching nearby dumps, I uncovered half a dozen tiny prescription type bottles, most of them still corked. Some were a lovely purple color with tiny, handmade necks and lips. A real prize was a purple E.R.DURKEE SALAD DRESSING NEW YORK with the patent date 1877 blown in the glass of the base. Elmer found a cobalt blue POISON bottle and both of us dug up many Vaseline jars of the CHEESEBROUGH MANFG. CO.CD. NEW YORK. A few were sun blued and bubbly with age, but most were clear glass or faintly amber. Several familiar GEBHARDT EAGLE CHILI POWDER bottles in both large and small size turned up. Other nice finds included a THREE IN ONE OIL, a FOLEY BROTHERS, CHICAGO, and also a J.A.F. & C. (J.A.. Folger & Co extract bottle).

A unique curiosity that my son turned up was an old nasal spray apparatus. The chrome plated metal work seemed to be of much better quality than is found in the stores today. The little glass reservoir, of course, was our main interest. A light purple in color, it was made with an applied neck and a very narrow flange was designed to snap into a flared metal collar on the spray tubes instead of screwing into place as modern sprays do. Altogether this was a find worthy of any collection of bottles.

We found several old horseshoes that we tossed into the jeep to add to our pile at home. A rusty eggbeater that had broken in half bore the molded lettering DOVER EGG BEATER PATD MADE IN BOST_. The frame was made of cast iron.

We took 69 bottles of all kinds from these dumps in just a couple of hours. This was one of those occasions when a person’s skill and knowledge of old bottles paid off, because the older bottles were freely intermingled with glass made only a few years ago. So plentiful were the bottles, especially the small medicine types, we scarcely bothered to inspect them at all. If they were made of cork, we collected them as a matter of course. It was only later, after having cleaned them up, that we really realized the value of our finds.

Crossing the busy highway to the north side of town we discovered a huge dump of several acres in extent. Most of the trash was of modern origin, and yet, a close search turned up quite a few older or at least interesting bottles. I found an infant’s nursing bottle with a tiny flared lip for a rubber nipple of the type used in the 1920’s. Unfortunately this bottle had a hole broken on one bottom corner and a long lateral crack down the front. Foolishly I threw it back and left it there. I should have brought it home as a representative type until I might find a whole one.

Actually, we were seeing such a flood of bottles that our judgment was being impaired. We simply could not take them all home. We did not have the time to devote to a close search because several other places beckoned us in the short time w had. We barely scratched the surface of this huge dump. Literally hundreds of valuable bottles still remain there, awaiting the patient searcher.

Crucero Road, a dirt track marked, NOT A THROUGH STREET, leads northward from Ludlow for an unknown number of miles. For half a mile or more, small dumps of tin cans and bottles appeared on either side of the road. Many were old dumps that have been dug up pretty thoroughly. Without spending too much time here, we managed to find a few good bottles. I was delighted to find a half-pint, heavy glass cream or mild bottle that I remember clearly form my childhood. These bottles were closed with cardboard caps this particular one bore raise lettering on the front: ONE HALF PINT CRESCENT CREAMERY CO.

Soon we returned to the railway right of way paralleling the tracks. Bottles can often be found at the foot of the railroad embankment where they have been tossed from the windows of speeding trains. Their heavy glass and small size prevented their breaking when being thrown from the moving train.

By noon , Elmer and I were very tired. Over a light lunch we recalled our original mission, Baghdad Chase. With a box full of bottles in the back of the jeep, wrapped carefully in old newspapers, we left Ludlow and set out for the mountains. Nine miles south.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!


A german Television show stopped by and ran a couple of interviews. They were incredibly friendly and hospitable. The name of the television show escapes me at this time I will post as soo as I find it.

Also! The Bottle Man is in a movie! -- Desert Dreamers -- Narrated by Peter Fonda, Take a look at the website here You can also view the IMDB movie page Here

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back again

Well it's been a few months since the last post. Here to dropoff a few more links for everyone to enjoy.

Here is H19's Flickr Gallery of the bottle trees. Some of the best photos yet.

There is a new Podcast I had never heard before called the Route 66 Minute. Take a listen and learn more about the Bottle Trees

Great article from he Press Enterprise By Mark Muckenfuss

"I tell people, your mansion's inside of you," Long says, touching his chest. "Your house is where your heart is. If you let your house go to hell, well, you're finished." Read More

The Bottle Tree ranch made USA Today list of places to visit on Route 66

OC Weekly Forum thread on The Bottle Trees Of Oro Grande, Ca
OC Weekly Article by Michelle Green
Click the link for "More Photos" to see all The Photos from OC weekly. Photos by Steve Perez

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Links Links Links

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Bottletrees are on Home and Garden Television

Well we have all the info now as to when this segment will air on the Bottletrees. The episode will air on Home and Garden TV March 19, 2006 6:00 PM ET/PT.

"The road trip this week starts in California with a Bonanza enthusiast who loved the show so much, he re-created the set in his home! Next, we head to Maine, where we find a handbuilt mushroom castle filled with funky furniture. Then, in Deadwood, Ore., we take a ride through a scenic backyard garden on a rebuilt train. In Idaho, we check out an offbeat geodesic dome with a little country flair planted in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Finally, back in California, we meet a man on Route 66 who has turned his collection of antique bottles into amazing yard art."

It's great to see these little things come to fruition, from a tiny newspaper clipping to a small segment on HGTV. These Bottle trees are located in Helendale, Ca in between Victorville and Barstow off of Route 66, so as you can imagine not too many people get to truly see what this project is all about. Hopefully many more people will be able to take a look at the Bottletrees by seeing this segment. If not well, they have plenty of time...sitting in a hole 4 ft deep and a foot and a half wide, these beautiful works of art will be here for a long, long time.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A new picture for the holidays


Just a quick picture that were taken a ways back. You can also click on the link on the right side menu to see more bottle tree pictures. Also I found another Route 66 trip write up here where they mention the Bottle trees.

Friday, November 25, 2005

How did all of this really begin?

My earliest memories carry me back to about 1951 or 52 when dad and I took trips together. In those days we just slept in the car. Him in the front seat and me in the back. Eventually we both became scavengers. In our travels we would find old dumps which were just filled with material which had been cast off as junk. Dad finally focused on looking for old bottles. He collected for about twenty years and was very successful. All of his trips were painstakingly documented. I still have all of his old maps which are clearly marked with pencil.

Around 1963 I found other interests, girls and cars. Then in 1964, four years of military. Two years after the military I wandered up into the Mojave Desert, my old stomping ground. I found a job, a wife, and eventually three boys. As a family we did pretty much the same thing my dad and I had done.

At age 50 my place was littered with material some of which was a hundred or more years old. I had a building full of it. For me the turn around came after visiting my parents one week end. Dad had put all his old bottles in trash cans and he had about lost all interest in all the things he had collected. He ended up giving me what he had. Well between what he had given me and what I had amassed over the years it all at once became overwhelming.

One thing kind of stuck in my craw that weekend when pulling those bottles out of trash cans. Dad had no way of displaying or sharing what he had found. His interest lay in only the challenge of locating and the collecting. Once a person has collected the interest that lays in just posessing usually will fade. One day I put some of the bottles on a wooden post similiar to an old place which was called hula-ville. The next morning when the sun rose I was hooked. The light of the sun intensified the brilliance of the colors in the bottles. I had only put up six or seven of these things when it came to me. Now I had a place to put every dammed thing I had ever collected.

One day I looked out front and someone was photographing. At the age of 55 I retired so that all my time could be devoted to this project. I have met and communicated with hundreds of people from all over the world. Not bad for a kid who started out sleeping in the back seat of a car. Later I'll post some stories.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Bottle tree man


Every now and then a piece of art catches your eye. Today that art is the bottle tree for artist Elmer long of Oro Grande, Ca. These designs are 1 of a kind and virtualy impossible to replicate. Not just because the bottle are from the for corners of the earth or that the antiques that adorn the tops of the "trees" are priceless memories from the past. No the mystiqe lies in the artistry displayed by this eccentic artist. As we update this blog and track the progress of this incredible piece of work We'll be posting more pictures, trip reports of excursions to find more bottles. And the occasional Interview with the Bottle man himself. Enjoy a few pictures that we have uploaded today. Happy Thanksgiving.

Meet The Bottle tree man