The town of Shoshone California, on the southeast edge of Death Valley, is one block long, if that. On one side of the road is a post office, a gas station, and a motel. On the other is a local museum, a cafe, and the Sheriff’s office. I’m not sure whether or not it’s a real sheriff’s office as the town looks a little too small to have a dedicated officer of the peace. It doesn’t even have its own fire department, for cryin’ out loud.
I became aware of Shoshone one weekend last year as I was out driving on my own towards Death Valley and ended up in Tecopa with less than a quarter tank of gas. Tecopa is known for its hot springs and that’s it. There’s a small craft beer brewery on the outskirts of Tecopa where I stopped to ask directions to the nearest gas station. They said I could go on up the road about ten miles to Shoshone, where the gas would be about $5 a gallon, or go back to where I came from and stop in Pahrump, which was more than 3 times as far but the gas would be less than half as much. I didn’t think I’d make it back, though, so off I went to Shoshone.
And I fell in love.
The original “man cave” that kicks off this post is where the miners lived during the years the community was active. It is NOT the local motel. I actually met two travelers who were staying at the motel and they had come all the way from France. Everyone in Shoshone was friendly once you smiled. But maybe that’s true for everywhere you go. Those French people sure were nice!
Anyway, behind the local diner, The Crowbar, was an old abandoned shack that I could only imagine belonged to the mine boss. No cave for him. His one room shack had all the comforts of home; a bed, a wood burning stove, a kitchen table and a chair. What it didn’t have was indoor plumbing. But the outhouse was only a few short steps from the front door.
The train tracks were pulled up, melted down and recycled during WWII. The old train station no longer exists, either, but a mockup of what it looked like stands exactly where the old one did.
Up on the hill, across from the miner’s homes, is the old cemetery.
If, one day you decide to head on out to Shoshone or Tecopah or any part of Death Valley, please don’t go in the middle of summer. The hottest recorded temperature was 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek, which is the hottest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth. In a typical year, the park experiences about 140 days of triple-digit temperatures, including 89 days at 110 degrees or hotter, 18 days above 120 and three days above 125. Last June, the high one day was 129.
And let me tell you, once the temperature hits anywhere above 115, there’s not much difference between that and 134.
Hot is hot!