Visiting Randsburg, CA

You may recall that a few weeks ago I went on a desert adventure visiting numerous sites like the small town of Boron. Well, after I had my fill of all that is borax related I decided to continue north to a place I’d long been wanting to visit – Randsburg.

Randsburg is located just off Highway 395 at the eastern edge of Kern County. In 1895 gold was discovered at the Rand Mine and the town was formed. It had a population of over 4,000 at its peak but now is home to less than 100 people and is affectionately known as “California’s living ghost town.”

I’d been wanting to visit Randsburg ever since it was profiled in a long ago issue of Sunset¬†magazine and figured this beautiful spring afternoon would be the perfect time to stop by. As I pulled into town I found it overflowing with people – all on ATV’s and dirt bikes.

It turns out Randsburg is very popular with off-roaders who stop in town for supplies from the local general store. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated at first, but it was a friendly atmosphere and soon I fit right in.

Randsburg’s main thoroughfare is lined with antique shops but, although it was the weekend, they were all closed.

One spot that was open was the Rand Desert Museum and I happily stopped in for a look around.

Inside I found an eclectic mix of local artifacts and geological specimens obtained from the surrounding landscape.

My favorite exhibit was a group of phosphorescent rocks glowing all shades of neon in a blacklit room.

I took an enjoyable stroll along Butte Avenue, the main drag, and enjoyed fantastic ghost town atmosphere.

Before leaving I decided to join the masses at the Randsburg General Store. Built in 1896, the store still actively uses its 1904 soda fountain to create ice cream sundaes, shakes and sodas. I couldn’t resist pulling up to the bar and enjoying an old fashioned chocolate coke.

It took me a long time to finally make it to Randsburg and it turned out to be even better than I could have imagined. With a range of weather-beaten architecture occupied by a lively population it really is “California’s living ghost town.” I know it won’t be too long until I’m back for another visit.

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