Thursday, April 25, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0052 - Mojave Phone Booth, San Bernardino County, California

 Photographer Unknown
 IT’S GONE!!!!

In the 1960s the State of California mandated that a network of phone booths be place in isolated parts of the state to service residents. To comply with the State mandate, a phone booth was located in an isolated area of the Mojave Desert 15 miles from the nearest highway and equipped with a hand-cranked magneto phone. At some time in the 1970s, the phone was updated and replaced with a touch-tone model, but the phone received very little use.

Then, in 1997, a person from Las Angeles spotted a phone icon on a map in a remote part of the Mojave Desert and decided to visit the site. He ended up writing about his adventure to the phone booth in an underground magazine and included the phone number in the article. (The original phone number was (714) 733-9969, but then the area code was change to 619 and later it was changed to 760.) The article was read by a computer geek that started a website dedicated to the Mojave Phone Booth. Soon, people started calling the phone booth from all over the world just to see if they could get a reply. Some people even took camping trips to the phone booth just to answer the phone and they kept records of how many people they visited with while they were at the phone booth. In 1999, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times visited the Phone Booth and met a man that said God had instructed him to come to the Phone Booth and answer calls. In 32 days, the man answered over 500 phone calls, with repeated calls from someone that identified himself as “Sargent Zeno from the Pentagon.”

However, on May 17, 2000, at the request of the National Park Service, Pacific Bell removed and destroyed the Phone Booth. The Park Service said that the removal was done to halt the environmental impact of visitors to the area. A headstone-like plaque was later placed at the site, but it too was removed by the Park Service because it was "unauthorized." On our adventure, we found the site as depicted on the Internet, but the only thing we could locate at the site area were some pieces of iron.

 Pieces of Iron

Over the years, the Phone Booth inspired several books and one full-length movie. In 2006 a movie titled “Mojave Phone Booth” portrayed four dysfunctional  travelers from Las Vegas that were separately drawn to the Phone Booth in hopes that the phone might suddenly ring to resolve their problems, of which they were plagued with in great abundance. I didn’t see the movie and will probably pass on that one!

After driving about 10 miles south of the phone booth site we came over a hill and there was a space ship right by the side of the trail. However, upon closer examination, it was discovered that the "spaceship" was an EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory Station that was funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA. The unit was installed by UNAVCO.

 The EarthScope is part of a network of over 875 stations installed across western United States to study movement of the Earth's crust to within 1/8 of an inch. (I just hope that they don't find out that I accidentally knocked the EarthScope over when I was backing up -- but I put it back in the same location.) For additional information, you can visit and on the Web!


Friday, April 19, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0051 - Mojave Cross, San Bernardino County, California

Mojave Memorial Cross

The Mojave Memorial Cross was originally erected in 1934 on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert by veterans to honor those killed in war. However, when Sunrise Rock became part of Mojave National Preserve, there were separations of church and state constitutional concerns, resulting in various legal actions. So, in 2002 the National Park Service built a wood enclosure around the cross until the legal actions could be resolved.  

The lower courts eventually ruled that the cross was illegal on public lands, so the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. On April 28, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Salazar v. Buono in a 5-4 decision that there was no violation of church and state and writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsements [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”

But the story doesn’t end there. The Park Service did not immediately remove the wooden enclosure around the cross, so on the night of May 7, 2010, someone decided to help the Park Service and removed the wooden enclosure around the cross. While the Park Service was trying to figure out what to do about the missing enclosure, on the night of May 10, 2010, the cross itself was stolen.

The Park Service offered a $125,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves and the VFW promised that the memorial would be rebuilt, stating: “This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families.” An atheist organization, Atheist Alliance International, then offered $5,000 to go towards replacing the cross with a more inclusive and non-religious veterans’ memorial, but the gesture was declined.

Then, on the morning of May 20, 2010, the Park Rangers found a replica of the cross bolted to the original base. The Park Service said the replica had to come down because the replica was not the original cross from the Supreme Court ruling, stating: “The Park Service has regulations about people putting up memorials. You can’t just go to a park and put up a memorial to a family member.” Back to Washington for the Veterans!

In April 2012, Sunrise Rock was removed from the Mojave National Preserve and transferred to a veteran’s group so that the cross could be rebuilt; then, in November 2012, the original cross was found leaning against a fence along side of a highway in Half Moon Bay, California. The original cross has since been returned to its base on Sunrise Rock, where it was standing the day we visited the area.

Friday, April 12, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0050 - Cima Ghost Town, San Bernardino County, California

Cima is about as close to being abandoned as you can get!

The community of Cima was originally founded in 1906 as a railroad siding and a community center for ranchers and miners in the area; but the community did not ever have a large boom and bust like many of the other town in the Mojave Desert. Even though there are a few people that still live in the area, Cima is now considered to be a ghost town.

The 2000 census listed the population of Cima at 21, but the population appears to have declined since that time. We stopped in Cima on a Saturday and didn't see anyone. The general store was closed and it was unclear if the closure was temporary or permanent. .

Cima is probably best known for its proximity to the steepest part of the railroad grade between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The grade rises about 2,000 feet in 20 miles, so this is a great place to take pictures of slow moving freight trains. Even though the town site has an elevation of 4,175 feet, temperatures in the summer time are still hot; but it’s a dry heat. Annual precipitation is less than 10 inches per year. Even though the highest recorded temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the lowest temperature recorded was -2 degrees Fahrenheit., the best time to visit Cima is still during the winter or spring months!
General Store
General Store Window
Old House
Old House
Through the Window
Through the Back Door
Through the Front Door
Given Up
About to Give Up
Through the Shed
Abandoned Train Loading Dock

Friday, April 5, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0049 - Ivanpah Ruins & Solar Energy Generating System, San Bernardino Co., California

If you tell someone that you are going to “Ivanpah” in the Mojave Desert, it is easy to conjure up a lot of different locations. Most people probably think of the proposed “Ivanpah” International Airport that is in the planning stages between Las Vegas and the Nevada/California state line; or, the “Ivanpah” Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) located in California just west of the state line.

Construction on the airport is still in the planning stages; but construction started on ISEGS  in October 2010 and ISEGS is currently the largest solar plant under construction in the world. With all of the mirrors and towers glistening in the desert sun, from a distance ISEGS looks like something designed for a science fiction movie.

Located in the same general area is the thirteen square mile “Ivanpah” Dry Lake, which is popular place for land sailing because of its flat, smooth surface. On October 26, 2007, a wind-powered vehicle named Greenbird set a world speed record of 126.1 miles per hour at Ivanpah Dry Lake.   

Then there is the “Old Ivanpah” town site (I later learned that this site is sometimes called “Ivanpah 1.”), which is where I thought I was going to when I looked up “Ivanpah” on the topographical map. As it turns out, “Old Ivenpah” is in the Clark Mountains on the north side of Interstate 15, so when I turned off of the Interstate and headed south I was going 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Anyway, I succeeded in finding “New Ivanpah,” which is marked on the topographical map as the location where Ivanpah Road crosses the railroad track. I should have known that "Old Ivanpah" wouldn't be that easy to find!

Unfortunately, “New Ivanpah” has been abandoned and the only thing that remains is the old boarded-up general store and some out buildings. Apparently, the site was originally called “Leastalk,” but at some unknown time the site became known as “Ivanpah” because this is where cartographers decided that “Ivanpah” should be located. Now I have to go find “Old Ivanpah!”

  "New Ivanpah" Townsite
General Store
Out Building
Out Building

Ivanpah Dry Lake

Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS)