Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel opened in 1957 and closed in 2009. There is not a great deal of information about the motel, but it is currently for sale at a price of $390,000. I first saw Arne’s on a YouTube video and so when we were driving through Baker, I had to stop off for a look.
The town of Baker was named after Richard C. Baker, president of the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad.
Baker has some other cool places to stop including; The Mad Greek Cafe, The World’s Tallest Thermometer and Alien Fresh Jerky.
The thermometer is 134 feet tall in honour of a 134 degree Fahrenheit (56.67 degrees Celsius),recorded in nearby Death Valley on July 10, 1913. The thermometer was built by the Young Electric Sign Company of Salt Lake City, Utah in 1991 for a man named, Willis Herron, a local businessman who spent $750,000 to build the thermometer next to his Bun Boy restaurant (now closed).
Luis Ramallo opened his first Jerky shop in Crystal Springs, Nevada, in the year 2000. In 2002, he moved the store to Baker, CA.
On the way to Beatty, Nevada sits the once booming town of Rhyolite. Today, there is nothing much left of Rhyolite apart from a few ruins, the bottle house and the old station. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourite ghost towns. I first visited Rhyolite back in 2016, and then returned in 2017. Unfortunately, in the space of a year, I noticed more graffiti and the old truck near the bottle house had gone.
In 1904, Frank ‘Shorty’ Harris and Eddie Cross discovered gold in the nearby Bullfrog Hills. By 1908, it is said that Rhyolite had a population of around eight to twelve thousand people. Although the mine produced more than $1 million in bullion in its first three years, by 1910, it is estimated that the population fell to just under seven hundred people. The last Rhyolite resident passed away in 1924. Many of Rhyolite’s buildings were relocated to the nearby town of Beatty. The Miner’s Union Hall in Rhyolite became the Old Town Hall and many other buildings were used to construct a school.
Rhyolite gets a mention in Ian Flemming’s 1956 novel, Diamonds Are Forever.
Spectreville is a fictional place but there is a Specter Range near Amargosa Valley in Nevada.
The Bottle House (known as Tom Kelly’s Bottle House) was restored by Paramount pictures in January of 1925 for the filming of a silent movie, The Air Mail. For some reason, and I have no idea why, I did not take a picture of the house.
The movie, The Island (2005) starring Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor was partially filmed in Rhyolite as was Six-String Samurai in 1998.
Rhyolite is a mixture of private and federal land.
Entry is free and the ghost town is open 24/7
Remember, be respectful and take nothing but pictures.
Next to the ghost town of Rhyolite sits the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The museum began in 1984 when Belgian artist, Charles Albert Szukalski installed ‘The Last Supper’. I must admit, I don’t know much about art and sculptures. However, the sculptures are said to be designed within the context of the desert landscape that it is situated in. The sculpture of the miner and penguin is a tribute to Frank “Shorty” Harris. Harris, along with his partner, Ernest Cross founded Rhyolite along with many other mining towns around the Death Valley area.
I have to admit, I’m not a beer or ale fan and going to Anchor was my boyfriend’s choice. However, I really enjoyed it. We were in a small group of about 10 people. You get to walk around the brewery, see the whole brewing process and learn about how Anchor Steam is made, as well as learn about the history of the company.
The Anchor Brewing Company dates back to the 1890s and was the creation of German brewer, Gottlieb Brekle. In 1965, to save it from closure, Frederick Louis Maytag III purchased the company. In 1979, Anchor moved to its current location on Mariposa Street. The building was once a coffee roaster and is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture.
Our tour guide was super enthusiastic and from seeing the staff in the factory, it looks like a great place to work. The tour was $25 but I would say you get that in beer if you want it. As I’m not a huge beer fan, I only had a taste, but you get to sample a lot of their different beers. The tour talks about their past, where they are now and their vision for the future. As well as how they are trying to keep the history and their methods of brewing alive. Anchor Brewing is community minded and supports local initiatives as well as California State Parks from the sale of their California Lager.
I was going to do one long post about my time in Death Valley but I feel that it will go on and on and so, I decided to split it up.
I first visited Death Valley in 2016 and instantly fell in love. On my first visit, I stayed at the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel. To be honest, for the price, I thought that the hotel was awful. I paid about £170 for one night, room only for two people. The room was dark and had loads of small fruit flies in it. The air conditioning was noisy and it smelt like the drains needed cleaning. The hotel is rated a three-star, I would probably give it one or two and the actual rooms looked nothing like the pictures on their website. The area around the hotel is cool though, there are a few old vehicles and things to have a look at and at night, it was beautifully quiet. There is a gas station and a general store, I would advise to full up before entering Death Valley though as gas prices were expensive.
Stovepipe Wells was the first Tourist town in Death Valley. In 1926, Bob Eichbaum opened Stovepipe Wells Hotel and operated a toll road. From looking online, Xanterra Parks & Resorts® used to manage the hotel but don’t anymore. They do manage the two hotels at Furnace Creek.
Just down the road from Stovepipe Wells, is Mesquite Flat
Sand Dunes. The dunes are easily
located, right off Highway 190. There is
a car park, with plenty of spaces. You
are free to walk on the dunes and there are some fabulous photograph
opportunities, with lots of dead trees and branches lying around that make
I have not yet had the chance, but I’ve read that it’s beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Remember, it is the desert so take plenty of water.
I find myself dawn to old places that have fascinating back stories and Zzyzx is no exception.
Located off Highway 15 in California, Zzyzx is home to the California State University Desert Studies Centre. However, this has not always been the case. It was once home to a health spa called Soda Springs. The spa owner, Curtis Howe Springer was born in 1896 in Birmingham, Alabama. He worked as an insurance salesman and then a radio evangelist, calling himself “the last of the old-time medicine men.” However, it seems that Springer had no formal medical training. After making some money through preaching and selling homemade homeopathic remedies, Springer used the money to file a mining claim in the Mojave Desert, which he called the area, Zzyzx.
Springer built a hotel and health spa on his desert land, heating the water with pumps and claiming that the site offered miracle cures. Soda Springs ran for almost 30 years with people believing they were receiving natural medical treatments. In 1969, several customers made complaints and the American Medical Association subsequently investigated Springer, labelling him the “King of the Quacks.” He was convicted in 1974 of fraud for which he served prison time. Springer died in 1985 at the age of 88 in Las Vegas.
Only a few of the old buildings remain today but nevertheless, they are a reminder of the obscure story of Curtis Howe Springer and how one man managed to con people for the majority of his life.
Tips for visiting.
We just stopped by on route to Los Angeles. The place was quiet with maybe one more person having a look around. I assume you can walk around at your leisure as we did, but if you want to make sure before visiting, contact the university. http://nsm.fullerton.edu/dsc/desert-studies-center