Self Isolation in a Ghost Town

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18th April 2020  •  3 min read

The whole world is on lockdown right now and most of us can admit to feeling bored at times. But as the saying goes, things could always be worse: Brent Underwood is currently self-isolating in the abandoend Cerro Gordo mining town in California!

Self Isolation in a Ghost Town

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The whole world is on lockdown right now and most of us can admit to feeling bored at times. But as the saying goes, things could always be worse!

Back in 2018 Brent Underwood bought the old silver mining town of Cerro Gordo in California for $1.4 million. Apart from Brent visiting and exploring, whilst trying to decide what to do with his acquisition now and again, the ghost town has remained in the care of the full time live-in caretaker Robert Desmaris. Robert has lived there for 22 years, and is now alone since his wife had to leave due to the altitude.

About a month ago when the sun was shining and the pandemic of Covid19 was starting to make the news, Robert decided to go and check on his wife in Arizona and Brent arrived to take over the caretaking duties. Since then the weather has deteriorated and a snowstorm has left Brent in isolation under five feet of snow.

He has no running water and dwindling supplies. The nearest grocery store is 42 kilometres away, but Brent can only go as far as he is able to travel on foot with snow shoes.  He is melting snow for water and is out of bread and vegetables. He is hoping that there is enough rice and canned tuna to see him through until the snow melts.

Self Isolation in a Ghost Town

As if that isn’t enough to be concerned about, this town with a violent and bloody past is reputed to be haunted. Cerro Gordo was established in 1865 when silver was discovered on Lake Buena Vista peak. In its heyday the town boasted 4000 residents, 100 outhouses, 7 saloons and 3 brothels. Silver was transported hundreds of miles to Las Vegas and it was said that the silver from Cerro Gordo made the town in the desert. In the 1860s it was a lawless place with a murder a week. The doctor was frightened and left and there was no sheriff to keep control. By 1900 approximately $17 million in precious minerals had been mined from the surrounding areas.

Brent Underwood is currently sleeping in a room that is rumoured to be haunted by the ghosts of two children who died after getting trapped there inside a cupboard. Whilst he reports that he hasn’t encountered these ghosts so far, he says that he has experienced some spooky happenings in Cerro Gordo during his lockdown.

“Things are moving around, I’m seeing curtains move , I’m hearing things in the night. There is no draughts here, but things drop inside of houses” he said. He also tells of a bunkhouse light that keeps switching itself on, and recently his wallet disappeared for two days, only to reappear in the town’s hotel.

Despite all the jitters, Underwood finds the town peaceful and beautiful and says “ when I look at the news and I see how chaotic and terrible things are, there’s a part of me that isn’t in a huge rush to re- enter the world”.

When all this is over travelers may once again find their way up the steep road to ‘Fat Hill’ and take a tour of the preserved buildings and artifacts from a bygone era with Robert Desmaris for just $10 per person. I know it’s on my bucket list!   


New York Times, 13 April, 2020 – “Man Forced to Quarantine in Ghost Town with Gruesome Past”

LA Times, 17 July, 2018 – “California Ghost Town Sells for $1.4 Million”

Western Mining History

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3 years ago

i thought they got stuck in a chest. Like a toy chest.

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