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Abandoned 'Manson' truck baking in the hot desert sun at Ballarat ghost town in the Panamint Valley, south of Death Valley, CA (ballarat20xy) | by mlhradio
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Abandoned 'Manson' truck baking in the hot desert sun at Ballarat ghost town in the Panamint Valley, south of Death Valley, CA (ballarat20xy)

Ballarat ghost town, Panamint Valley. According to the local caretaker (and town's only permanent resident), I was told this was Charlie Manson's truck. Seriously. In addition to its colorful mining history, Charles Manson and his followers lived in the area for a while. Some of the ghost town ruins in the background, and the heart of the Panamint Valley and dry lake behind that.


Picture taken October 21, 2007. Photo #20 of 50 of my Ballarat Ghost Town photoset.


Update 3/08: With Charles Manson back in the news as they start digging for new graves nearby, I decided to check out more info about this truck online. Looks like this is just a popular myth being told by the current Ballarat caretaker (aka 'mayor'), passed down from previous caretakers. The truck in this photo is just an old beater used up in the mines. A little more info here:


Ballarat is one of the most remote ghost towns in one of the most remote corners of California. Settled between the salt flats of Panamint Valley to the west and the impassable mountains separating it from Death Valley to the east, Ballarat was founded in 1895 as a resupply camp for the rough-and-tumble mining camps in the nearby hills. But as the mines at Ratliff, Panamint and Pleasant Canyon played out, Ballarat slowly returned to dust. In the 1960's a local businessman built a cinderblock building and set up an RV park with the hopes of turning the region into the next Palm Springs, but Ballarat's extreme remoteness foiled any commercial prospects. The town has been home to various colorful desert rats, including Seldom Seen Slim and Charles Manson, but these days Ballarat is usually home to one or two permanent residents, tending the crumbling buildings that remain at the town center and supplying the off-roaders and explorers heading up into the mountains to the north and east. Ballarat is one of California's more interesting ghost town relics of the past, partly due to its extreme isolation and because it hasn't been touched by commercialization; but also for the colorful caretaker and historian that tends the town.


For more information about Ballarat, visit:

Desert USA article from 1999.

Wikipedia entry.


Update 4/08: This is my 6th photo to reach 100 views. Thanks everyone!

Update 10/08: This is my 3rd photo to reach 200 views on Flickr!

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Taken on October 21, 2007