Reading Log: ‘California Ghost Town Trails’ and the Pleasure of Secret Knowledge

Old mining structure at the mouth of Suprise Canyon en route to Panamint City.

Old mining structure at the mouth of Suprise Canyon en route to Panamint City.

This was a charming little book. It’s badly outdated -don’t use it as a literal guide- but it’s a wonderful history told in a voice that’s interesting not because of formal training in writing but because it’s drawing from a unique set of experiences and an atypical way of looking at the world. I had read the chapter on Ballarat and Panamint City before taking a day trip there with my dad and my brother, but I decided this little volume was too interesting to use just like an outdated guide book.

Passion always bleeds through. The writing here is wistful and conspiratorial -the winking economy characteristic of the sharing of secret knowledge. As much as I love the dissemination of information via modern infrastructure, there’s an undeniable romance to old books full of secret knowledge (even though people have gone and posted that secret knowledge on the internet).

Recommendation: Give it a read if you’re interested in the subject, or if you’re a hopeless romantic about old books like I am.


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