The desert river of gold

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel news

deserted old mineworks in the Mojave

Desert life can be harsh. There are tales of the people who never made it because their water gave out, those that struck gold or found precious metals and were at the mercy of their partners or the wild life. Then there are the true stories that get embroidered with age and re-telling. Who knows what the truth is any more.

At the end of September, California celebrates the desert’s stranger side with a world premiere movie about lost treasure, a treasure hunt, a paranormal workshop, the cult classic “Ghosts of Death Valley Junction” and more at the inaugural Weird Tales Festival in Ridgecrest which is in California’s Mojave Desert. The surprising thing is that such a festival hasn’t been held before. When I was there just over a year ago, I was told desert tales of prospectors, law-breakers and strange events. The gaol (sorry, jail) in Randsburg has a corrugated iron roof and little ventilation. For those locked up it must have been hell; no wonder it led to tales of people going out of their minds. Around the desert, there are old mines, caves, deserted buildings and the landscape, occasionally people too. And beneath the desert some believe there is a river of a gold – a river where gold nuggets are there for the picking. A myth? True? A well-known desert explorer and documentary maker, Ted Faye has been tracking down the story for years and now has created a film about the myths and the truth.

Ted Faye

Sponsored by the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert, they have persuaded Faye to premiere his new documentary about the desert, “The Desert’s Lost River of Gold,” on Friday 27th September and his cult classic “Ghosts of Death Valley Junction,” on the following days. As well as that there is a treasure hunt led by W. C Jameson – one of the areas foremost treasure hunters. And they’ve thrown into the event a thing called “The Western Buffet.” To those who tried this before this is a feast, a big feast. You won’t leave hungry. There will be barbecue chicken, Santa Maria Beef, ranch beans, potatoes, corn with sweet red peppers, cornbread plus drinks.

Most of you won’t go to this festival but if you holiday in California in the future, a trip to Ridgecrest, Randsburg and then onto some of the ghost towns should be on your agenda. And if they happen to throw a western buffet into the tour, jump at it!

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