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    [California Gold Mining] Stage Lines, Saloons and Construction, Rand Street 1897. 6.75" x 4.5". The prominent two story building with the crowd in front is the St. Elmo Hotel. It was also the office of one of the stage lines. The crowd is awaiting the arrival of the stage from Mojave or Kramer. John Crawford came to Randsburg during the summer of 1896. He was a Kern County Deputy Sheriff and came with Sheriff Cy Droilluard who was one of his partners in the St. Elmo Mine located near present day Atolia. John built a saloon and hotel in Randsburg but could not manage both so he sold out the hotel to Henderson and Roach sometime prior to November of 1896. Herbert Rogers and a Captain Thomas purchased the St. Elmo Hotel in January 1897. Realizing that the men coming to camp at that time wanted better accommodations they immediately let a contract for a new two-story hotel to be built on the same site as the current St. Elmo. The original St. Elmo Hotel was a one story building described by one of its patrons as follows: "At the St. Elmo, the leading hotel in town, the dining room, kitchen and was room are in the same enclosure. At mealtime owing to the scarcity of chairs, all the guests stand, except those who secure a chair. All guests are required to register every morning, and pay for their lodgings in advance. Otherwise they will have to sleep in chairs or on the floor. When guests are shown to their cots or beds the hotel clerk carries a lighted candle, minus the usual candlestick, and before arranging the covering holds the candle, burning end downward, and in the grease spot thus made the candle is stuck to keep it from falling. The floor of the bedroom is made by laying rough boards as closely as possible and all night long the chilling winds whistle through the crevices and rudely disturb the slumbers of the traveling tenderfoot and fortune hunter." This is a fantastic image 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.

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    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
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