Red Mountain


By: Fred Camphausen


Our group of 9 DPSers met at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Red Mtn. We didn't plan on heavy drinking there since the place has been closed for years and it was only 7:30 in the morning. Besides, we had a couple peaks to climb and lots of sightseeing. My first mistake was telling Betty McCosker that she had only 3 hours to paint up the town because her husband and the rest of us would be back from our climb of little ole' Red Mtn in 3 hours, or maybe a little longer. Betty then set up her easel in front of the old saloon while we took off for the start of the climb. Fearless leader knew that there was a direct road to the saddle N of the summit but he didn't want to make the climb too easy and thereby finish the day's activities too soon, 'course not.

So we drove and drove. We first took the Trona Rd fork from Hwy 395 near Joburg and drove 0.6 mi to a graded rd heading S. This rd was followed another 1.3 mi to the end of a short desert track NW of Squaw Sprg Well. My copy of the Randsburg 15' quad was printed in 1911 but it appeared to be current on dirt road status, altho then there was no Red Mtn town, except possibly for the Silver Dollar Saloon. The Randsburg branch of the AT&SF railroad was there, and only portions of its former roadbed can now be seen. The reason for my keeping the subject away from the climb (of 1600' gain and 3 mi to Red Mtn summit, by gaining the ridge at a prominent saddle and turning S) is that it lasted 5 hours rather than 3, and when we finally got back to the saloon Betty had already folded up her easel in disgust and was sitting in her car. It wasn't that the weather was bad, but Betty just got tired of the locals in town coming up to her and telling her that if she was waiting to get a drink in the saloon it wasn't going to open soon, since it remained closed ever since the day "Campy" took his beer drinking to Ridgecrest. But I digress, purposely.

Also promised for the trip but not delivered was a morning visit of the steam well. Since it was already afternoon I simply described it instead: "A 4" pipe capped with a leaky valve and with steam gushing out." Everybody was satisfied by that, but my lecture on the geothermal energy potential of the area was lost on people who were already thinking about paying the $1.17.9 for each gallon of energy it was going to take to get away from this God-forsaken place. Anyway, our climb of Red Mtn could have been effort-savingly done from the W, almost birdseye from Betty McCosker's easel at the Silver Dollar Saloon, except in addition to the reason given above, Cuno Ranschau did it this way when he finished all 3 lists at one time and the sanctity of his route should be preserved.

So, we ate historic hamburgers at the surprisingly neat "76 Cafe" in Joburg and then went to visit the historic gold mining town of Randsburg and its museum. It was supposed to be a brief stop before heading S to climb Fremont Pk and see the Monarch Rand Mine. The break-in and theft at the museum of just a few days earlier was much more disastrous than the newspapers reported. Included in the take was the longest known (27") American Indian obsidian spear point. The Smithsonian wanted very much to have it, but since the theft was pre-planned, the thing is by now in a person's private collection. (That's the way it's happening all over the country: person sees an object in a museum that he wants, takes a photo of it, sends out a "reward" along with the photo, and the object is soon stolen, out of state before sun-up, and taken east where it is delivered C.O.D.) Still to be seen before sundown was the Yellow Aster Mine glory hole, which yielded millions of pre-inflation $ and put the desert towns of the Rand mining district on the map.

Another digression from the subject, which is our intended climb of Fremont Pk. Well, we didn't climb it. For the simple reason that we ran out of daylite. Fearless leader forgot about those short winter days. I think we just wanted to go for a drink at the Silver Dollar Saloon. Joe McCosker was the able asst ldr. during this scheduled 1-day DPS outing. We all had fun on our 1-peak climb, and we could spend Sunday at home to prepare for the approaching holidays.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section