Monday, April 27, 2015

Manson Tour 2015: Goler Wash

We were joined for the trip by a legend, Emmett C. Harder. He's the mining prospector that befriended the Family surrounding the times they frequented Barker Ranch. He is still quite energetic and full of spirit. When we took this pic we were at Newman Cabin in Goler Wash. As this particular story went, he - with the use of a shotgun -  and a mining partner had captured a desert thief who had been burglarizing Goler Wash mining camps. The capture took place here at Newman.

Newman Cabin

Emmett Harder is about 82 years old now but as sharp as a tack.  He drove the entire way up Goler Wash with ease, talking the whole time about various people who had mined or been an accessory to the process.  It seemed as if there wasn't anything he didn't know about the goings on in the area.

As we left the store at Ballarat the first bit of local color he told us about was Post Office Springs.  Post Office Springs was a tree in a wide spot in the road where people would leave messages for each other, having no other way to communicate.  Even today there is no way to contact one another within the area because there is no cell service, no landlines, no electricity. It is just the same way it was 45 years ago and the decades before.

On the way to the road up to Goler Wash we learned a little about the mining process, which we won't get into except to say there is an active mining operation going on now which was to our benefit because the roads had been graded for the truck traffic to the site where the leeching process was taking place. The road to the wash was in great shape with no washboard effect.

We finally began the assent to Barker. The wash "road" had recently been fixed up, none of the waterfalls which usually pose the biggest challenge to the trip up the wash were a problem. We never had to get out of the vehicles to move boulders.  Emmett's running commentary was priceless. We learned about the different rocks, the flora and the fauna of the area. All was interspersed by stories about the locals, aside from stories about The Family. What rugged people!

The road was narrow at times and there were many side roads, if we hadn't had a guide we could see where one could easily get lost. It's amazing that many of the Family members walked up and down the wash barefoot. And that it is so remote it's hard to imagine why they decided to hunker down there with very little in the way of resources for survival.

Very shortly after we first arrived at Barker Ranch, we heard the loud braying of a wild burro. He was standing on the opposite butte from the front of the ranch. There are two springs between Barker and Myers where they like to go for a drink. When he saw that there were about 14 humans there he attempted to intimidate the group. He stayed up there for hours.

Speaking of wild creatures, this Gopher Snake passed by near the front steps at the ranch. 
They are not dangerous to people.

Some shots of Barker Ranch

The main house

The infamous cabinet space in the bathroom where Manson 
spent his last moments as a free man in 1969.

John Aes-Nihil at the entrance to the ranch

 What's left of a mattress next to Sadie's Bunker

This is what's left of the dug-out bunker where Sadie was hiding when the raid began. 
It is of course filled in from earth that has run downhill over the decades from rain and wind.

Just slightly downhill from the bunker (maybe 8-10 feet) is the tin 
roofing that Sadie used to cover the bunker.

Here is myself and St. Circumstance on the butte opposite the ranch near the bunker. 
The burro was just uphill from us standing his ground.

From the spot by the bunker you can see Myers Ranch

George Stimson and Emmett Harder in front of the cabin beside the main house.

Above the main house, looking down at the pool


Meyers Ranch


Back down in Ballarat. From left to right are Deb, Emmett, Matt, Patty, George, 
Stoner, St. Circumstance (with Rocky Navak behind him) and John Aes-Nihil.

By the way, be sure to pronounce Ballarat correctly or George won't let you graduate.