Those interested in owning a substantial piece of real estate that's changed little since the end of the Civil War should gather their bank notes and hitch a wagon to Cerro Gordo. The historic ghost town in California, first founded in 1865, has hit the market for the first time in decades, enticing anyone with deep pockets and a love for 19th-century Americana to consider its $925,000 asking price.
"The site has been extremely well protected from diggers. artifact looters and Mother Nature herself. Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings," the real estate listing states, "and the rest are in a state of protected arrested decay."
For just under a million, potential buyers will take possession of 22 structures, including a historic hotel, saloon and chapel. Mineral rights also convey, a reminder of both the town's former economic might as a mining hub for silver and lead and its role in the development of what was then a fledgling Los Angeles.
"To this city, Cerro Gordo trade is invaluable," the LA News declared in February 1872. "What Los Angeles now is, is mainly due to it. It is the silver cord that binds our present existence. Should it be unfortunately severed, we would inevitably collapse."
The general store in Cerro Gordo contains artifacts and wares from the late 19th century. (Photo: David Lofink/flickr)
The silver cord that linked Cerro Gordo with Los Angeles came untethered in the late 19th century, with much of the town largely deserted by 1888. After some mildly successful commercial efforts to extract any remaining silver ended in 1938, the property passed into private hands. The ghost town then became the setting for several Hollywood westerns of the 1950s and '60s, starring actors like James Stewart and Steve McQueen, and sparking the start of a small tourism trade. In 1986, owners Michael and Jody Patterson set about restoring the town and turning it into a bed and breakfast.
"The only sound in town," Patterson told the LA Times in 2006, "is the whistle of the wind blowing through all the bullet holes in every building up here."
One of Cerro Gordo's claims to fame is that a murder a week occurred there in the 1860s and '70s. Some 600 graves reside in the hills above the town. (Photo: David Lofink/flickr)
Those with an eye for the solitude of Cerro Gordo's setting will also appreciate the more than 300 acres that come with the property. As a waiver on the town's tourism site state, however, wandering the estimated 37 miles of mining tunnels that comb through the surrounding hills is not recommended.
"Exploring mines may put you and others into a dangerous and life threatening situation," it reads. "Many vertical shafts exist that you may fall into. Mine areas may have unstable ground or sharp objects embedded in the soil."
The entrance to a long-abandoned mine in Cerro Gordo. Dozens of other such mines litter the landscape around the township. (Photo: David Lofink/flickr)
Those interested in learning more about Cerro Gordo can visit the official listing from Bishop Real Estate here. Tours of the property, which will continue until the new owner takes possession, can be booked through the Cerro Gordo Historical Foundation.