Friday, July 15, 2011

Randsburg - Rand Mining District

Kern County, August 30, 1993

It’s worth the extra mile. Just a mile west off 395 on the road that eventually winds up going to  Garlock, the Burro Shmidt tunnel and all points leading to Bakersfield, the still functioning mining town of Randsburg has architecturally stood still for over a hundred years as it awaits an ever-growing onslaught of photographers, car and motorcycle clubs, and those who seek unique bed & breakfasts. Johannesburg is a mile away via back roads with Red Mountain a little farther south on 395, but in this trio of isolated mining villages, it’s Randsburg that one really must see.


In the late 1970’s, we’d pop over from Ridgecrest when playing music there in the off season from Mammoth to the general store’s soda fountain for what was arguably the best chocolate malt in the world. Cokes were made the soda fountain way as well. Back then the town wasn’t quite as quaint and tidy (relatively speaking) and there pesky eighty year old issues with 1872 mining claim laws and land ownership that kept the town in limbo for just about all of the 20th century.

Linn Gum’s son called the other day with the news his father had passed in April and that they were to use my song. ‘Randsburg Solution’ in his memorial in Ridgecrest. Wow, what an honor! Luckily the story line and lyric was pretty accurate as it told of the old west reenactment of issue of land patents at the Randsburg General Store…"There's never been a patent issued anywhere but a state capital or Washington, so it's pretty significant, historically," – Linn Gum.

After he joined the Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey as an Environment Scientist in 1983, he transferred to the Bureau of Land Management and served 33 years as a gold mine patent examiner, renewable energy specialist, where his crowning achievement was the “Randsburg Solution.” In 1997, after several years of long weekends and hard work, he brought the entire mining town of Randsburg out of unlawful trespass and into legal ownership of their homes. This process has been duplicated in Alaska, Nevada and Texas. – Ridgecrest obit.

YouTube video:


Now the Fourth of July was underway, festivities were thorough
Spit watermelon seeds or the old dunk tank, or pet Cupcake the Burro

Old Hord Tipton from the BLM, ran up and said ‘Have you heard?”
A lone horseman rode into town, this mining town of Randsburg

Chorus) In his duster coat and Stetson hat, down Butte Road he went slowly
Dismounted at the general store, hitched his horse, then said lowly

“I’ve come here to settle up things, I’m a settling institution
Got a deal to offer to you, ‘The Randsburg Solution’

I’m a hired gun folks that’s for sure, but my guns are made of paper
Gonna end up all these trespass claims, five hundred bucks an acre

Mining law is fickle thing, law of 1872
Stop mining and ya’ lose your home, and be a trespassing fool

Land patents from the BLM, we’re doing for the very first time
Just give your money to Nancy Alex, and sign on the bottom line

 This compromise was well received, townfolk could start anew
Not the Old West we’re talkin’ about, it was 2002

Side notes to those days in the late ‘70’s of traipsing about the hills in and around Randsburg in ‘the Moose’ (’63 Willys 4WD station wagon) while playing Clancy’s Claim Company in Ridgecrest were that firstly, there were still a lot of miners working claims in what looked like the middle of nowhere, and didn’t think much of the Willys’ formidable off road capabilities. And secondly, Clancy’s Claim Company co-owner Frank’s old west reenactment of his own when he bought the Cocky Bull down in Adelanto. It was a ‘two rock escrow’. We stood in the dirt gravel parking in full western garb for the brief ceremony which consisted of the notarized documents were placed under one rock and the cash money 40 paces away placed under the second rock. Buyer and seller slowed walked to the middle and shook hands, completing the deal and picked up the goods at the opposite rock. Hmmm, if this transaction were to be used more often, this country might find itself in much better financial shape.

This is the last dispatch for the 1993 southbound trip from Siskiyou County down to Kern County via a meandering gold country and eastern California route.

Plaque inscription: #938 Rand Mining District
The Yellow Aster, or Rand, mine was discovered in April, 1895 by Singleton, Burcham and Mooers.The town of Randsburg quickly developed, followed by the supply town of Johannesburg in 1896. Both names were adopted from the profusion of minerals resembling those of the Rand MiningDistrict in South Africa. In 1907, Churchill discovered tungsten at Atolia, used in steel alloy during World War I. In June, 1919 Williams and Nosser discovered the famous California Rand Silver Mine at Red Mountain. Kern County Desert Museum, Butte Ave, Randsburg.
Google: 35.36809,-117.65356

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