My first post lockdown trip took me to Hoober Stand near Wentworth in Rotherham. I’ve driven past this many times and never looked into what it was until now. The tower is Grade II* listed and was built between 1746 and 1748 by English architect Henry Flitcroft. The purpose of the tower was to celebrate the role that Whig aristocrat Thomas Watson-Wentworth, Earl of Malton (later the 1st Marquess of Rockingham) played during the quashing of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. The tower’s name, Hoober Stand, comes from the nearby settlement of Hoober.
You can go up the tower, there is a small fee of £2.50 and it is open 2–5 pm on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from the spring bank holiday weekend until the last Sunday in September.
LuminoCity Festival is a festival of lights, held on Randalls Island, New York the festival is a spectacular display of light art. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere like this, it was definitely an unusual experience and I highly recommend it. Just a few things to note before you go. Book tickets in advance on the website https://www.luminocityfestival.com/ , adult tickets are $38 each. There is a shuttle bus that departs and returns from Manhattan, E 125th and 3rd Ave, but you can also get the M35 bus. However, if it is late at night, I would recommend the shuttle if you cannot take your own car. I would advise buying tickets beforehand, but we got a return ticket on the day as we did not feel comfortable getting the public bus late at night. There is parking available on the island, but it is $20 per car, OUCH!
This year (2019), the festival ran from November 23rd and is on until Jan 5th 2020. Entry is 4:00pm-11:00pm on selected days. Below are a few images that I took, along with a video.
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.
Located off Highway 15 in California, Zzyzx is home to the California State University Desert Studies Centre. However, 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 homoeopathic 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