South from Ridgecrest on 395 and other side roads
Randsburg/Rand Mining District:
*south on Hwy 395 about 20 miles, turn right at sign one mile to the town of Randsburg
Recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Rand Mining District, Randsburg hasn’t changed much. Old buildings along the main street are full of charm and interesting things, antiques, art gallery, even an old marble saloon bar and soda fountain in the General Store. Some of these buildings were moved up the hill long ago from Garlock when gold was discovered in the Yellow Aster. The mine has always been a rich source of gold but it has been shut down because it’s just too expensive to remove the overburden. There’s still a lot of gold there! The Museum is open on weekends and has a fine collection of mining era relics and photos. Visit the 5 stamp mill behind the building and picnic area. The nearby communities of Johannesburg and Red Mountain are of the same vintage. Interesting stores, bars, hotels are still standing. Both limited strip mining and underground mining take place today in the area.
Johannesburg grew up as a townsite to support the mining, and the Randsburg Railroad from Kramer Junction ended here. Drive uphill and visit the interesting cemetery near the King Mine. http://www.maturango.org/Hist/RandRail.html
Red Mountain also has a colorful past history with the Kelley Silver mine and many other mines, some still active today. Red Mountain is in San Bernardino County, Randsburg in Kern County – and they were connected by tunnels – when the Sheriff came, illicit activities and folks just went to the other county, underground!! 🙂
Atolia Mining District has tungsten which was much needed during WWII. There are still some relics of the mining era here, but all the property is private, including the huge headframe west of Hwy 395.
Be careful when you explore!! Respect private area signs. The Kelly Mine area and all of Atolia tungsten mine areas are private and the new owners really don’t want you there at all. Beware open mine shafts!!
Boron, U.S. Borax Visitor Center (1.5 hrs from Ridgecrest)
Hwy 58 between Mojave and 7 miles west of Kramer Junction (4 Corners). A “company town” mostly, servicing the huge U.S. Borax mine near there. There is a huge Visitor Center overlooking the mine’s pit- turn north on Borax Road and follow signs to Visitor Center. $2 fee. Fascinating view, interesting exhibits, video. They have a set of the real borax wagons and 20 plastic mules.
Also visit the Twenty Mule Team Museum in the little town, and the new Aerospace Museum. Great stuff, photos!! Open 10-4 every day. http://20muleteammuseum.com/
Other cities to go to from Ridgecrest on Hwy 395
Kramer Junction, 1 hr.
Barstow – east on Hwy 58 – 1.5 hrs.
Las Vegas, east of Hwy 58, north on I-15 – 4 hrs.