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SCHMIDTS CAMP CALIFORNIA
If you dig it, they will come!

Unoccupied Historic Mining Camp
Kern County
Circa 1906

Burro Schmidt – Aka Wm. Henry Schmidt was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 1871. At the age of 24 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same disease that had already killed six of his siblings. Out of desperation he moved to the Mojave Desert, hoping the dry climate would increase his life span. By 1906 Schmidt had obtained several gold claims near Garlock in the El Paso Mountains.

From his residence in Garlock, Schmidt would travel to his claims up Mesquite Canyon, an ancient river, passable only by burro. The towns people would see him coming and going with his two burro’s, and gave him the name “Burro Schmidt”.

The tiresome journey to his claims became a burden, so Schmidt built a small camp on a northern shelf of Black Mountain near his claims. Refusing to haul his ore down the back (north) side of Black Mountain and around in to Mesquite Canyon, Schmidt decided to dig a tunnel through Black Mountain and out the South end hoping he could meet up with the old Borax road (now known as Randsburg Road) that ran from Death Valley to Mojave by way of the El Paso Mountain Valley. So in 1898 he picked up his shovel and pick, and began to dig.

Little did he know that this task would take him 38 years of his life to complete. He drilled, blasted and toiled long days and nights, pouring the dirt and rock down the mountain side from his growing tunnel. Cave-ins and blasting injuries were not uncommon. He is said to have limped his way a couple miles to a friend’s cabin for medical attention on more than one occasion. Finally in 1936, he found light at the end of his tunnel. Unfortunately he was never able to haul his ore out through his short-cut as intended. His age and failing health would no longer agree with prospecting. But he did live another sixteen years as the proud owner of a famous tunnel attraction. Sitting on the stoop of his old wood cabin, he waited for tourist to arrive, where he would greet them and walk them in to his masterpiece. In 1954, at the age of 83, Burro Schmidt died in a Ridgecrest hospital. Full of spirit, but cursed of old age.

The tunnel was purchased by a woman, Tony Siegert who occupied a nearby cabin. Attracting tourist from all around. She simply took over where Schmidt left off. Until her death around 2000. Today, the BLM has jurisdiction over the tunnel and camp, and removing any artifacts or material from the camp is strictly prohibited.

Ghost Town Explorer

Ghost Town Explorer

Ghost Town Explorer

Ghost Town Explorer

Ghost Town Explorer



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