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May 2007: A visit to Ballarat, California

When you picture a ghost town, you might conjure an image of tightly packed wooden buildings, a dusty street... maybe a tumbleweed blowing by. In reality, with no trees around, no architects available, and no long-term plans from the start, mining towns like Ballarat were just thrown sloppily together, and just as sloppily exited. The last permanent residents left Ballarat in 1917 when the mines went dry and the post office closed. Well, a few desert rats have always remained, but 1917 was really the "end date".
Desert Views
At one time, Ballarat was home to about 400-500 residents. It had 7 saloons, 3 hotels, a Wells Fargo station, post office, school, a jail and morgue. No church of course - the miners had other priorities...
Lost to Time
Ghost towns never really die - someone always owns the deed, and the promise of cheap land - wherever it is - will always attract a few hardy souls. Today, it seems the population of Ballarat is 3. There is a store (though, not much in it) and a campground.
Ballarat Sign
Ballarat was named after a city in Australia. Perhaps the founders thought it'd bring a little luck their way with the mine.

Where is it?

Ballarat is just southwest of Death Valley, in east-central California..

Before you go...
You might want to read-up on the town before you arrive, as there isn't a whole lot of info at the various sites (not counting the sign, pictured above).

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