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Ghost Town with the Rivian R1T | MotorTrend

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MotorTrend’s Sean Holman and Christian Hazel ride along the Eastern Sierras in the Rivian R1T to meet Brent Underwood, the newly-minted owner of one of California’s most infamous historic mining towns, Cerro Gordo.

I’m sean holman and i drive right and breathe trucks for a living with me on this trip is my friend and co-worker christian hazel also a certifiable truck nut and we just finished getting a tour of the sarah gordo ghost town from this guy brent underwood he bought the place back in 2020 he’s been living here alone ever since intrigued then watch on let’s back

Up to the beginning anyone who knows me knows that i love using off-roading to connect with history that’s why the eastern sierras is one of my favorite places to explore before cerro gordo was developed into a mining town the indigenous people knew about silver veins running underneath the mountain today the silver is gone but brent has made it his mission to

Bring the town back to life as a tourist destination and historical site so we were excited to see what he had done with the place all right here we are what a truck hey brandon how’s it going good shawn holman hey sean hey christian hey christian thanks for the invite yeah welcome to sarah gorna that’s a beautiful day yeah how was the ride up in the truck man

I think it’s so awesome no problems coming up your road’s a little washed out down there yeah it could do some work we’ve been up here a ton of times off-roading but we’ve never stopped in the town so we’re super excited to learn more about it yeah i’m glad you did uh i think this is a good place to start you know we’re standing right now in between the original

General store and the original owner of the town’s house um the town established in 1865 as a mining town uh hopefully today we can maybe jump into some mines cool but probably a good place to start is the general store which is these days our museum you know oh awesome okay let’s check it out we’ll uh we’ll follow you all right wow this is it this is awesome

At first this has been like where all the miners would have gotten their goods you know canned goods anything like that do they have to pay with the company money yeah yeah they try to keep all the money in here yeah so the front is kind of it would have been anything from pickaxes to canned goods to all these different things that you see kind of behind us the

Back was actually a butcher shop so there’s like a cool old refrigerator back there so the miners already came here you know picked up any supplies they wanted some different things like that uh these days it’s our museum you know so anything that is found around the property we throw in here this is the ore that they were mining here so the primary ore back in

1865 was galena so that’s lead and silver so that’s why it’s kind of got that heft to it and they mined that here for about 20 years so this was like i said back in the day the butcher shop these days a lot of the stuff back here is what i found you know so this room kind of has a good place in my heart so this is actually a map of the whole main union mine here

Oh okay so this is where we’re gonna go later it’s the top of the main shaft and the reason that they sunk the shaft where they did is they were trying to get access to two different things the union chimney and the jefferson chimney and chimney in this case means like uh right yeah yeah an order position starts at the surface and goes down so this one starts the

Surface it goes over 1100 feet down and these are pure galenas like every little bit of it was galena so they sank the shaft to then go out right and then start mining you know like gravity do the work um and so eventually they got down in the 900-foot level they hit a fault so they went off to the sides and then drove some winds down to 1100 foot but that was

Pretty much where it ended um so these days like the jefferson chimney you know they started mining at the surface so now it’s just this crazy pit that just drops hundreds of feet from this how much of those chimneys are left these days they’ve as far as like the origin they’ve gotten like every scratch wow they’ve done a pretty good job of just getting everything

Out having the opportunity to see and handle some of the artifacts that brent’s found around sierra gordo at his museum was an amazing and unique experience but it was time for us to do what we came up here to do and that’s to see the centerpiece of sarah gordo the union mind let’s go see where the cool stuff came i was waiting for you guys to say that all right

We’ll do it i’m ready if you are all right i’ll show you the way all right so this is the reason that we are all here this is the main union mine shaft here at cerro gordo you’re standing on a cage that drops 900 feet straight down if you can feel it a little bit it does move just a bit because it’s being supported by that cable and so this cable is my cable’s

The only thing to keep me from that’s it miners would just slowly take this down you know the different levels the ore would also come up on this you can see the track on there oh the track would come right off of the level basically pull a cart up with it huh and then roll onto this roll out right out that way and then go out that way but this is i mean to me

This is my favorite thing at all of cerro gordo because this is this was the heart and soul of this opposition right nothing else existed at one point in time this was the largest silver mine in california and this was the main shaft at the moment this was basically the morning commute this is it yeah the crazy thing is so like we still use this all the time you

Know i was literally going down on this yesterday and so for me to see the old machinery and still work the old machinery that old engine still works yeah it still works it just gives you that soul of the place it gives you a feel of maybe what the miners used to go through and that a big long brake lever and the big springy chair i mean there’s a guy sitting

There operating levers to make sure the brakes he literally has your life in his hands yeah and so he’s looking for any slack in the cable but uh still goes down takes about 40 minutes to go down 700 feet all right well as much as i want to see christian uh go down this mine shaft right now why don’t we go through the other entrance yes and uh we’ll check out the

Zero level yes perfect this first 20 feet or so might be a little a little bit of a crawl it’s like sitting in front of an ac band john if you get stuck i’ll just give you a hug just push my butt as we got deeper in the mind we took a pause into this room where brent explained how the union mine was both the biggest and the most infamous in cerro gordo the the

Next level will be the 86 level so 86 feet down and there’s the 200 level and the 200 level is probably the most infamous level at cerro gordo back in 1871 there was 30 miners there that overstopped so they took out too much of the ceiling oh wow and the level collapsed on them and they’re still there you know all right so one last question while we’re in here in

The darkness i’ve heard stories that sarah gordo is haunted is it haunted depends on who you ask yes so prior to buying the town i was a full non-believer you know yeah ridiculous uh but i did have my one kind of ghost incident i guess okay that led me to believe that maybe you know i’m now a skeptic i’ll say yeah and uh the way i handle it is i feel like there’s

Certain areas of cyril gordon the haunted i think i say that the town in total is haunted i think the ghost like their areas i like mine if we keep our own space then we can co-exist so i don’t go anywhere i stay over here yeah all right handle it obviously we’re going to drive our electric truck home yeah i hear they don’t like the electro uh interference and

So does that mean they won’t be following us home or maybe they’ll jump in the car and follow so maybe we might think of i guess we’re going to have to uh head out of this thing and and get back in our ribbons thanks so much um yeah we’ll try and take some ghost home with us and that way you don’t have to worry about anything that would be amazing i appreciate

That all right so uh which way out i’m gonna go this way all right so you guys think that was pretty awesome that was crazy i didn’t think i’d ever i’d ever see like a a raw mine like that yeah i’ve been in the tourist ones where everything’s all kind of safe and there’s lighting hey what are you saying about it that was that was super cool that was super cool

Yeah you know you felt like you’re really back in the day thanks for showing us yeah your backyard uh why don’t we hop in the river and we’ll show you what we do i’m ready let’s do it all right to seragordo that was an amazing day of sarah gordon yeah i had a blast your driving is excellent i’ll start there appreciate some of those drifts or uh clenching i’m

Impressed that was a lot of fun today so what i would say to somebody who might be hesitant but curious about exploring a place like sarah gordo is learn about it and get out there do it before it’s too late because there’s so many stories to be told and we’re only here for so long so for me personally i’m gonna keep going out there i’m gonna keep finding these

Pieces of history and i hope i see you out on the trail doing the same you

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Ghost Town with the Rivian R1T | MotorTrend By MotorTrend Channel