Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Ghost Town Of Garlock, California

Garlock is located in the southern Mojave desert, at the foothills of the El Paso mountains, between California highways 14 and 395, just south of Red Rock Canyon State Recreation Area. It came into being around 1887 because springs in the area provided water for travelers and a grazing area for their horses. In 1893, gold was discovered in nearby Randsburg. Because Garlock had a reliable supply of water, an eight-stamp mill was built in Garlock and miners took their nuggets there for refining into bullion. Garlock also became a supply center for miners in the region. By 1899. several hundred people were living in Garlock. It had a church, a school, and something called the "Garlock Literary Society," which was founded, according to its charter, "to be a positive influence on the town's morals." Garlock's ruins are on Garlock Road, accessible from either Highyway 14 or 395, and the site of Garlock is marked by the plaque below:

Garlock's fortunes were tied to Randsburg, and when the Randsburg mines began to fail so did Garlock. By 1903, Garlock was deserted. Today, all of the surviving buildings are located on private property behind fencing. While that means you can't explore the ruins, it also means the buildings are protected from vandalism:

The building below served as Garlock's school, then as a general store/tavern, and, supposedly, as a brothel/speakeasy for the remaining Randsburg miners during the 1920s. It has been closed for over eighty years and today is slowly falling apart:

Here's another view of the building above from the side:

Maybe Garlock's most enduring claim to fame is the fault named for it-----the Garlock Fault. This is the second longest fault in California and the only major one in the state running east-west instead of north-south. It connects the famed San Andreas Fault with the Death Valley Fault Zone. The Garlock Fault is not as well known (or feared) as the San Andreas and Hayward Faults, but it is geologically active (moving between 2 to 11 millimeters per year) and is overdue for a major rupture and earthquake. In other words, people in Bakersfield, Riverside, etc., need to be very, very concerned about the Garlock Fault. Meanwhile, Garlock itself now sleeps quietly in the high desert.