The town has grown over the years, now boasting around 14,000 people. Deadwood – Rough & Tumble Old West Town. There is a restored lunch counter, telegraph office, and exhibitions that tell the history of the area. There is much to see in California City, in the Kern County desert, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. What looks like a food truck is parked in the driveway, the words “Research Flat Earth” painted on its side. An authentic mining ghost town that hosted more than 60 saloons and dance halls at its peak, its decay has been frozen by park authorities. They went boom, then bust, but some of the desert’s early settlements haven’t entirely disappeared. Sandwiched between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada border, Bodie offers a very different way to immerse yourself in the Wild West. If you've ever had to "get out of Dodge," you may understand what this wildest of Wild West towns was like back when Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were patrolling the streets. You can even pan for gold at the Lost Boot Mine, but don’t expect to strike it rich. Saccharine hits from the 1950s and ’60s fill the dry desert air, providing a disconcerting soundtrack for an exploration of the once-bustling stop. Wooden boardwalks lead you alongside restored 19th-century buildings, including historic saloons, and plenty of museums. Play Wild west town for free on Kizi! And while the gold mine might be all dried up, you can still take the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour, which lets you ride an electric mine train into the Galena Mountain, and watch immersive mining demos that use authentic machines dating back nearly 100 years. Most work in the local jail, at nearby Edwards Air Force Base, and in the large Boron mine to the east. 21000 Hacienda Boulevard California City, CA 93505. Driving through California City today is an eerie experience. If you are looking for the best Wild West towns and activities, then this article will give you some great tips! To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. Sun in your face and cold drink in your hand, singing along to Creedence Clearwater Revival: Who doesn’t love a road trip to the desert? Today, the picturesque tourist trap is all charm, with no true grit (or ghosts) in sight. A half-hour guided tour will bring you through the mine shaft, which has proven to be one of the town’s most popular tourist draws. Calico is a desert ghost town, theme-park style. “The steep 2 percent grade that trains had to climb from west of Kelso to Kessler Summit meant that extra ‘helper engines’ would need to be stationed nearby to help them up the grade,” a National Parks Service history explains. For a break from the shootouts, take a ghost tour at the Bird Cage Theater, which was a popular 1880s drinking, gambling, and performance venue in which 26 people were reportedly killed. In the 19 th century, during the gold rush, towns developed in the west around the gold mines. Mane Street is a friendly place, not a grimacing desperado in sight. By 1969, the year Mendelsohn pulled out amid a torrent of lawsuits and government investigations, California City had only 1,700 residents. Prostitutes - or 'soiled doves' and 'sportin' women' as they were commonly known - were a fixture in western towns and cities. There are an abundance of monuments of the Wild West in Cody, most notably the Old Trail Town, which includes Wild West artifacts like Butch Cassidy’s cabin, the grave of mountain man John Johnson, a saloon frequented by the famous outlaw Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, and the home of Curley, the Indian scout who survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Then get your kicks off Route 66 (now the National Heritage Trail) in the ghostly midcentury modern nightmare known as Amboy. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. You’ve probably heard of some of Deadwood’s most famous residents, like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. Suddenly, it rises like a fairytale castle: a large Spanish Revival structure. During the glory days of Route 66, Amboy was a popular tourist trap, where the all-American family could get a malt in the soda shop, have their tires rotated, and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep before they got back on the road. Farther down the dirt road, a modern-day cowboy sitting a spell on the porch takes off his hat, an old-timey gesture in front of the old-timey saddle shop. Western Towns - Our Top 10 True Western Towns - What makes a True Western Town? Amboy passed through the hands of different owners before it was bought by Albert Okura, founder of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, in 2005. Speaking of not quitting your day job, gambling is still alive and well in Deadwood, though it’s evolved somewhat from backroom poker games to more modern establishments. Down an endless road, deep into the beautifully barren Mojave National Preserve, the wind pushes your car around, and your lips feel like parched sandpaper. The iconic Roy’s Motel and Café opened in the 1930s, and for decades it was the domain of owner Buster Burris, “a rough-hewn entrepreneur with flinty eyes, sun-toasted skin and strong opinions about rowdy bikers and men with long hair.”. The world’s love affair with America’s Wild West has always burned bright, and nothing in the country’s history compares to the period from 1865 to 1895 when prospectors and pioneers pushed their way towards better lives and scrambled for pots of gold. In 1924, the grand Spanish Revival Kelso Depot and Clubhouse opened. Mar 15, 2020 - Explore Free Range Living's board "Wild West Towns" on Pinterest. In 2005, the restored depot was opened as the visitor center for Mojave National Preserve. Inside, an empty soda counter, straight out of Dobie Gillis, is preserved, and kitschy souvenirs appear to be for sale. But by far the most compelling area is the Calico Graveyard, where mountaineers and prospectors from Calico’s past—and modern-day boosters and cowboys—are buried under handmade markers, their graves covered in desert rock. A woman smiles when you peek into the windows of the adorable motel’s reception office. The settlement was born when workers laying tracks for a railroad came to the edge of the canyon, with no way to cross over until a bridge was built. Three hours east of Los Angeles, this small settlement in the Mojave started off as a railroad community. You’ll probably still lose, but at least you don’t have to keep your head on a swivel for gunslingers. Buy a cowboy hat from the hip guy with an alt-country beard in another store (and pay over Venmo) and consider purchasing a beautiful earthenware mug in another. Most of the outdoor scenes were shot elsewhere, but these are a couple of places to go that have their roots in the Old West And the gaudy colors in the mineral stained mountains which formed a backdrop for it all reminded someone of a piece of calico. The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, includes the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American expansion that began with European colonial settlements in the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the last few territories as states in 1912. Americans have always had a fascination with the Wild West. Many lot owners, who felt they had been sold a false bill of goods, simply abandoned the land and stopped paying property taxes. These aren’t Wild West ghost towns but more recent vestiges of the 20th century. Below are our five favorite California desert ghost towns. The town was fast abandoned, leaving behind a bygone relic. Visit the Boot Hill museum, located on the site of the historic Boot Hill cemetery, for a look at the 60,000 artif… The gunfights, rodeos, tumbleweeds, and dusty saloons of America’s untamed frontier might sound like cinematic tropes, but they’re also a very real part of the country’s history. Dodge City is much more quaint these days. The promise of wealth lured outlaws, gamblers, and gunslingers who transformed the town into a vibrant and often dangerous place. Soon, the new settlement of Calico in Wall Street Canyon sprang up, filled with young adventurers from places as disparate as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and China. Wild West Town is a wild west themed amusement park in Illinois. Just outside of Barstow in the Mojave Desert—designated the state of California’s official “silver rush ghost town” in 2005—Calico started its life as a lawless 19th-century mining camp. According to the LA Times: An ambitious street system was designed and roads were cut into the brush, making the grid that can now be seen from the air. The rudimentary depot first opened in 1905 to aid Union Pacific trains chugging across the desert to and from Las Vegas. It was truncated during the 1964 renumbering and its signage removed in 1974. At an elevation of 9,180 feet, situated between two San Juan Mountain passes, Silverton was dubbed the “Mining Town That Never Quit.” It started booming around 1873, with settlers pouring into Silverton seeking gold and silver around the creeks and rivers. See if you can find the good, fallen tree nearby, rest for a moment, and think of ghost trains gliding across the unforgiving desert. You can visit the Oatman Jail and Museum to view the town’s old holding pens and sheriff’s office, or check out the several local shops selling classic Americana. This name generator will give you 10 random names for Wild West towns and towns in similar settings. He promised to restore and reopen Roy’s, a goal which he seems to have minimally accomplished. Inspired by the explosive growth of the San Fernando Valley, in 1958 he bought 82,000 acres of desert wasteland, intent on making it into the ideal industrialized American metropolis. At dusk, an Oldsmobile driver turns his bright lights on to go down a perfectly straight road, with not a building or second car in sight. El Reno -Home of the Oklahoma Land Rush. Instead of housing drunkards and crooks, the old Silverton jail is home to the San Juan County Historical Society Mining Heritage Center. “They would just look at him. It has a walk-in bank vault from 1964, as well as an abandoned gold mine underneath the bar. Corral and view reenactments of the famous gunfight, or even spend the day at the Tombstone Wild West Theme Park where there are daily gunfight shows (no, you don’t have to participate). According to the history, “Kelso was perfectly situated to fill both roles, since it is located near the bottom of the 2,078-foot grade, and had a reliable water source from a nearby spring in the Providence Mountains.”. For true history buffs, you can actually visit the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane at Mount Moriah Cemetery. If you’d prefer something a little less morbid, there are plenty of period museums like the Days of 76 Museum and the Adams Museum. Soon a post office, cafeteria, and rudimentary homes for Union Pacific workers and prospectors sprang up in the isolated spot. Okaton – A Prairie Ghost Town In 1946, Hollywood came to the high desert to stay. Union Pacific planned to tear down the depot, but it was saved by a group of historians and environmentalists. By the mid-1930s, only four residents were left. Now, it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to picture the town in its Wild West days. A sales office and model houses were constructed, and work was started on Central Park, an 80-acre recreational area that eventually included a 20-acre lake, outdoor swimming pool, playing fields, par-three golf course, picnic areas, tennis courts, indoor sports center and community building. At Roy’s Motel and Café, an old man sits by the gas station: is he working? Several gambling halls in the town keep Deadwood alive and there is plenty for visitors to do including touring several historical buildings which have been restored to their original … The story does have a happy ending, however, as Oatman eventually gained her freedom. You can take a ride through an old mine on a tram, pan for silver, take pot shots in the shooting gallery, and camp overnight under the Calico hills. In the 1970s, the construction of new highways made Route 66 obsolete, and Amboy’s fortunes fell. There are roads laid out in a perfect grid. One of the most famous Wild West towns in the country is Deadwood, South Dakota. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. Silverton might be the highest Wild West town in the country — and no, that’s not a swipe at Denver. Outside, however, is an entirely different beast. There’s a soiled mattress in one, and a strange art installation in the other. The shootout pitted Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earpp and Doc Holliday against Ike and Billy Clanton, Billy Claiborne, and Tom and Frank McLaury. Here’s a guide to five ghost towns near Mojave. However, there's still plenty of chances to step back in time. Also be sure to catch the Ghost Rider Gunfighters show in the town center, which takes place daily at 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM. Calcium borate (borax) was found shortly after. More than 500 mines were soon in operation, producing the biggest silver load in California history. You’ve probably heard of some of Deadwood’s most famous residents, like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. Don't worry about being challenged to an old-fashioned gunfight at high noon, though. In the general store on Main Street, there are fat peppermints and candy cigarettes. The dust in the air chokes. The justice of the peace chewed tobacco and swallowed the juice. Those that didn’t, that outlived their usefulness yet still exist, are now faded snapshots of the time and place when they were at their best. U.S. Route 66 (US 66, Route 66) is a part of a former United States Numbered Highway in the state of California that ran from the west in Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean through Los Angeles and San Bernardino to Needles at the Arizona state line. Ruidoso, NM, is the next big destination for remote families. Visitors are free to explore its spooky remains, but there are no kitschy reenactments, restaurants, or shops selling … Just west of the town of Lone Pine on Highway 395, at the foot of Mount Whitney, are the Alabama Hills. According to the Los Angeles Times: Calico was a rip-roaring town teeming with miners, boomers, promoters, gamblers and fortune hunters... Five thousand men swarmed up the canyons and gulches from their stone huts each morning to grab with picks and blast with powder for rich silver ore. A dog carried the mail in pouches strapped to his back. Driving out of town as the sun goes down in the huge, cloudless sky, you pass row upon row of empty dirt roads, like the imprint from a shoe. CANYON DIABLO, ARIZONA Nowhere in the Southwest was there a more violent place than the railroad town of Canyon Diablo, giving it the top spot on our list of the meanest Wild West towns. This replica ghost town looks so real, it's scary. Two of the motel rooms are open. At home, at school, or on the road, we offer a great selection of games! Shaniko – Wool Capitol of the World. Read time: 9 mins. Rough, rowdy and dangerous, the pioneer town became famous for the western icons who passed through, such as the saloon-keeper turned lawman Wyatt Earp. Who knew a deserted, rough-and-tumble mining boomtown in the Wild West could be so delightful? Cody is the home of Buffalo Bill, the showman famous for his “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” shows, which are credited with the popularization and proliferation of rodeos. California City was the brainchild of a dapper Czechoslovakian sociologist named Nathan K. Mendelsohn. For that reason, we name Abilene our top Western Town for 2018. They’re easy to drive to, fascinating to explore, and may leave you thinking about which one you’d like to live in, and which one you’d like to haunt. One was the boarded-up depot’s caretaker O.B. The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” wafts through the air. Living in Idaho is like living in a time capsule. Washita Battlefield National Historic Site. The hills nearby are covered in sleek white windmills. Across the street is an old post office, and an abandoned church where an organ sits in its back room, waiting to be played. Some have been re-purposed, some glamorized, some left to rot. Oregon. Calico. Here are the ones you can visit. Some of them were abandoned en masse, while in others people left gradually until no one was left. In the recreated print shop, a friendly skeleton wears an old-fashioned green visor and kitschy wanted posters of madams and madmen are displayed on the walls. Fast-forward to 2018, and new pioneers have come to town—trustafarians and Burning Man enthusiast types who co-mingle with the rough-hewn desert lizards that have long called the small community home. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, this picturesque mountain town, now known as the “Switzerland of America,” was once a rowdy wild west town where silver prospectors came for fast fortunes. The Cody Nite Rodeo takes place every night and is truly one of the most unique rodeo experiences you’ll get in the West. A ghost town is a term used to describe towns that failed to stand the test of time and died off the same time the gold mines stopped producing gold. Be careful though, if you break the law in our town… Its biggest claim to fame wasn’t precious metal, however, but its red light district, which featured dance halls, saloons, and bordellos. Ever have the hankering to experience a post-apocalyptic 1950s-kitschy hellscape? Like many Wild West towns, Virginia City has a trolley tour that brings you through the major landmarks. But the boom, as nearly always, was followed by a bust. Nowadays the town has shed its gunfighting reputation and leaned into its cattle history. That year, a group of Hollywood investors, including cowboy stars Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, Dick Curtis, Bob Nolan, Russell Hayden, and Tim Spencer, bought 13 acres of desert land 25 miles from Palm Springs. Virginia City was a major hub for gold and silver barons throughout the 1860s and ‘70s but now serves as a monument to its former glory days. “It was time for me to bug off rather than becoming that grumpy old dude trying to stop change.”, The Curbed guide to Southern California’s deserts, The Curbed guide to Southern California’s desert, In Palm Springs, a couple embraces midcentury style—and green design, An illustrated guide to Southern California’s desert plants, Arthur Elrod and the vibrant, modern interiors of Palm Springs, How to spend a weekend in and around Palm Springs. A popular pit stop for hikers to take an, um, “lode” off along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, South Pass City is one of Wyoming’s most highly trafficked Old West ghost towns. A booming mining town established in 1859 during the discovery of a major silver deposit called the Comstock Lode, the town was named after Virginia miner James “Old Virginny” Finney. O’Brien, a grizzled Navy veteran. The working post office shares an aged building with the town’s fake sheriff’s office, complete with a dummy and a makeshift jail. It was once home to Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, famous gunfighters and gamblers of the West. One of the most famous Wild West towns in the country is Deadwood, South Dakota. One faux-aged wooden marker reads: Here lies Jerimiah Mountain Man 1928-2005. Next door is the glassed-in hotel lobby, its cracked Mad Men-esque furniture fading in the sun. Everyone knows the expression “get the hell out of Dodge,” but in reality, you should probably get the hell to Dodge. Just a short distance from any urban area in the Gem State is a town that looks like its been stuck in the mid 1800’s for the past 150 years. Who knew a deserted, rough-and-tumble mining boomtown in the Wild West could be so delightful? There is a forlorn, abandoned basketball court, and a fireplace—all that’s left of a small house. Not all names will be as grim as the latter two though, as there are plenty of more pleasant sounding names, as well as many variations in between. This includes personalizing content and advertising. Across the street from the depot, the old post office is boarded up. Okura has a soft spot for Americana; he also bought the refurbished, original McDonald’s in San Bernardino. It earned a reputation as one of the most sinful towns in the West by the end of the 1800s. “I don’t want to be bothered.”. Remnants of Doge’s days of infamy are alive and well, however, with the Longbranch Saloon and Gospel Hill accessible via trolley ride. The names in this generator have been based on real life Wild West town names. After gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, people flocked to the Deadwood area to make their fortune. The promise of wealth lured outlaws, gamblers, and gunslingers who transformed the town into a vibrant and often dangerous place. In the dust-covered ’50s-style kitchen, you might glimpse a desert version of trapped Betty Draper standing at the window, staring out at the train tracks. From storied ghost towns and and hardy, striking flora to iconic Palm Springs hot spots, we’re celebrating the divine desert landscape in LA’s backyard. Finally, a place to stretch their legs, breathe some fresh air, and have a drink or 10. You can even book a ranch tour and learn how to shoot a rifle. Whether it’s about lawmen and gunfighters, ranchers and sodbusters, or railroads and boomtowns, all True Western Towns have a story to tell. “I fell in love with the desert,” he said, echoing the sentiments of those who still called Kelso home. Founded in 1895, the Wild West town attracted adventurers seeking their fortunes, but their bounty soon dried up. The Silverton experience wouldn’t be complete, however, without riding on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a historic coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive that travels through canyons and forest between Durango and Silverton. And there are real estate signs, dotting the empty roads, stuck in the weedy, barren lots, advertising that the land is for sale. All attractions and rides for one admission fee. These friendly green aliens seem to outnumber the human residents of California City. Fittingly, Schieffelin called the town “Tombstone” because he was initially told he would find nothing there but his own tombstone. What it's like now: Dodge City's economy is ce… Mine, but at least you don ’ t want to be bothered... This name generator will give you some great tips the Alabama Hills as it gets fenced-in ruin borax. 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