GHOSTS OF THE CERBATS

*click on photos to enlarge

Wow! Another week has zipped by and the second month of the new year is about to become history.
For reasons unknown I try and detect patterns in the incoming and outgoing trucks at the office. All I have been able to determine is Americans are a restless lot.
The brake issue with Barney has been resolved. The rear brake shoes were defective with large pieces breaking off causing an occasional drag. This is the first time I have experienced anything like this.
As the weather was near perfect for a desert adventure, mid sixties with no winds, after
closing the office Saturday afternoon I decided to get started on the ghost town project. With an ice chest full of tea and fruit juice, the new camera and a fellow from work I set out with the family truckster (the wagon) to seek the ghosts of the Cerbats.
I started with Chloride, the sole survivor of a string of towns that once thrived in the foothills of the scenic, rugged Cerbat range. This small community dates to the 1860s but there are few vestiges that predate 1880.
Today the quiet town is a blend of miner shacks, a few old commercial buildings, fancy new homes, and hints that this place was once more than a tourist destination or haven for retirees who crave the quiet.
The small, abandoned train depot is the most telling evidence that this was once a prosperous community. The station has served a wide array of purposes since trains quit running more than eighty years ago.
The vintage roadside stop that was Shep’s is now a small cafe known for its wide array of beers. The surrounding auto court house a few shops and the ancient visible register pumps out front are little more than props.
A grilled chicken sandwich, platter of sweet potatoe fries, cup of coffee and good conversation set the mood for a relaxing afternoon. This is a favorite stop of mine and has been for a number of years.
My son and I used to come out here often. My wife and I had a memorable lunch here once. Most recently I bid adios to a good friend here before he relocated to the middle east (Nebraska).
On this trip we began with driving the dusty streets looking for locations that would best present the atmoshpere of the old town. The train depot became stop one.
Stop two was one of the old service stations. The building dates to the 1930s but the pumps were about twenty years newer. The tracks in front are all that remain of a dreamers plan to offer tourist an opportunity to see Chloride from a train pulled by a mining donkey engine.
After wandering Chloride and playing with the new camera a bit we set out for the next stop, Mineral Park, on the old highway. This is always a pleasant drive.
Mineral Park was once the county seat. Little remains today as an open pit mine began operations near the town site in the 1960s and has since swallowed almost the entire
community.

With a sturdy truck there are a number of roads that wind and twist into the towering Cerbat Mountains. One, Big Wash Road, is often passable by automobile and provides access to the Windy Point Recreation Area, a delightful camp ground that overlooks the wide Sacramento Valley that is rapidly being consumed by the cancerous spread of urban sprawl.
Time constraints and road conditions provided the excuse for skipping our third stop, the old town site of Cerbat. Extensive ruins and mine remnants from the past century fill the narrow canyon there.
A visit to Cerbat will require the services of Barney to negotiate the deep sands and ruts. Perhaps in a week or two.
A few years ago Chloride was a nest of vintage vehicles basking in the Arizona sun. Today, in an odd morphing, those old cars and trucks have been replaced by more modern cousins from the 1960s and 1970s.
Among the more interesting vehicles found on this trip was a short chassis Studebaker bus with Alaska plates. When was the last time you saw one of these?
I suppose it would be a worthy venture down memory lane to scan photos and post them here. Many of these appeared in an article I penned for Speical Interest Autos back in the early 1990s.
Some of the most memorable vehicles found on that trip were a 1942 Olds, a 1955 Chrysler station wagon, the Nomad III, a vehicle worthy of devoting an entire entry, a 1939 Packard with 1953 plates and a Desoto airflow carcass. Another was a 1958 Packard sedan with fiberglass hood.
Before the arrival of summer temperatures plans call for visits to a number of the towns along the river such as Swansea. This will be followed with ventures into the high country with stops at some of my favorite places like Crown King.
If you enjoy Jim Hinckley\'s America, take a second to support jimhinckleysamerica on Patreon!

jimhinckleysamerica

Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.

Thank you, shared adventures are the best adventures.

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