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    [California Gold Mining] Extremely Rare Randsburg Winter Image 1896. 7" x 4.75". In November of 1896 Mr. Genshlen of Los Angeles in partnership with E. Hannah of Lancaster, purchased the Randsburg Boarding House, it is unknown who they purchased it from. By December of that same year they had changed the name to the Hollenbeck Hotel. The Hollenbeck Hotel appears in this photo as a large tent at the lower end of Rand Street with the name painted on the roof of the tent. Also pictured in this photo is the St. Elmo Saloon owned by John Crawford. John M. Crawford was a Deputy Sheriff from Bakersfield. Along with some other Deputies and lawmen from Bakersfield, he came to the new strike to do some prospecting. A group of them, Sheriff Borgwart, Elmo Pyle, and Cy Drouillard, with John included, made a pretty good strike that they called the St. Elmo. John obviously invested some of his newfound riches in developing property. He built a hotel and a saloon, which was licensed on April 10, 1896. He found that the hotel business was not for him and he disposed of that property to Henderson and Roach. The St. Elmo Saloon was the headquarters for the men from Bakersfield and surrounding area. One newspaper report told of a half-ante-stud poker game that had gone on for several nights with high stakes. At one time there was $500 dollars in the pot (equivalent to $37,500 in today's money). All of the players were from the San Joaquin Valley. The St. Elmo burnt to the ground in the May 1898 fire. It appears that Mr. Crawford did not rebuild it as sometimes prior to December of 1898 he either loaned or sold the cash register from his business in Randsburg to J. C. Mefford of the Arlington Hotel in Bakersfield. The image is in fine condition.

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    Clarence W. Tucker Photograph Collection

    Randsburg, California - Mojave Desert, Circa 1896 - 1898


    Simply spectacular! This collection consists of twenty-seven studio-mounted photographs and ten glass plate negatives taken by pioneer California photographer Clarence W. Tucker (1874-1964). The archive represents the most important and rare grouping of mining camp images to come to market in many years. The photos were found at the bottom of a mine in the Mojave Desert in the 1950s by amateur prospector William Young as documented by a series of articles in Westways Magazine in 1971 and 1972. Not a great deal is known about C. W. Tucker's early days in photography. He was born in Indiana on September 22, 1874 and in 1893 he became a photographer's apprentice in Warsaw, Indiana. In 1895 he came to San Jose, California to visit a cousin and ended up staying in California and working as a photographer until his death in 1964. Tucker settled in the rough mining camp of Randsburg around 1896 and remained there until about 1898. During that time he met and married Grace Doughty and she worked as his assistant from thereafter. In the early 1900s the Tuckers moved to Covina, California where they ran a photography studio until 1950. Tucker could not have avoided being affected by the raw energy of the mining camp at Randsburg and his keen photographer's eye fortunately chronicled its rise from a tent city to a small but booming mining town. His images are possibly the only photographic record extant of Randsburg's glory days as an Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) search shows no images by Tucker taken during his time in Randsburg in institutional holdings.


    Randsburg's decade-long boom began in 1895 with the discovery of rich gold and mineral deposits in the El Paso mountains in the northwestern Mojave Desert. John Singleton, a hard-rock miner, in a last attempt at striking it rich, got lucky with the discovery of rich gold deposits which would become the famous Yellow Aster mine. The claim was named the "Rand" giving a nod to the rich mines of South Africa and the early mining camp was called "Rand Camp". The discovery touched off the inevitable flood of prospectors and a crude tent camp was hastily established. By the end of 1895 there were thirteen buildings, most of them canvas but by the next year the population had swollen to 1,500 and more permanent wooden structures began to appear. The town suffered a series of devastating fires and as mining played out in the area, the town effectively reverted to ghost town status.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Nov-Dec, 2011
    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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