Death Valley to Yosemite: Frontier Mining Camps & Ghost Towns
The Men, The Women, Their Mines and Stories
By L. Burr Belden & Mary DeDecker
They came west, daring pioneers, men and women who left behind their families and homes to cross a continent in search of gold. They braved remote and desolate country not without its deprivations and hardships. Beautifully written by the leading authorities on the early history of Eastern California. Fascinating reading with maps to the historic camps from remote Death Valley to Yosemite’s high-country.
A prospector picks up a likely looking piece of float and then spends half a day squinting around to find correctly its true source. Another becomes intrigued with an abandoned Indian camp only to find a rich silver-lead vein. Green-stained rocks around a mountain spring lead to the discovery of copper ore. A party of travelers gets lost when clouds drop so low they obliterate a mountain trail. Dawn reveals scores of gold-bearing rocks bordering their blankets.
This is the classic book about fabulous mining booms, of men and women who braved some of the most remote, wild and desolate country east of the Sierra Nevada to find gold and other precious minerals. Many of the colorful characters who contributed to the legendary reputation of mining camps with names like “Dogtown” and “Skidoo” were personally interviewed by both Belden and DeDecker.
In the early 1920’s, L. Burr Belden wandered Death Valley as a young reporter for the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram. He befriended the old-timers who shared their confidences with him, many told for the first time in this book. Belden made the Death Valley area a field of intense personal study and research. He loved the desert, and in particular, he loved all that had to do with Death Valley — its history, its landscape, its people. Belden spent more than 50 years at the Sun-Telegram and later served on the California History Commission and Conference of California Historical Societies, appointed by California Governors Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan.
Mary DeDecker lived in Independence, California for more than sixty years, and climbed throughout the Sierra Nevada with her husband, Paul, and two daughters. She has extensively explored Inyo and Mono Counties, by foot and jeep. A self-taught botanist specializing in the study of California native plants, she discovered several new species and one entirely new genus near Death Valley, which was named after her (Dedeckera eurekensis). She has served as chair on the boards of both the Eastern California Museum and California Native Plant Society. Both Belden and DeDecker served as presidents of the Death Valley 49ers.