Eagle Mountain, CA
Ghost Town in California
Where is Eagle Mountain California?
The remains of Eagle Mountain, California lie 13 miles north of Desert Center. Now just a fenced off ghost town, it's slowly decaying, frequented only by the small security staff that watches over it. The only building still in use is the Eagle Mountain School, located outside the fenced area, which provides education for children in the locale.
Watch DesertUSA’s Video About Eagle Mountain, CA
Henry Kaiser and the Eagle Mountain Iron Ore Mine
In 1948 Henry Kaiser opened the Eagle Mountain iron ore mine here, which would become Southern California's largest iron mine. A rail line moved the ore to the Fontana California Iron Works for processing. Homes and a town were built to serve the numerous workers at the mine.
At the height of mining production, Eagle Mountain had a population of 4,000, many living in over 400 homes in the town. Mobile homes and trailer parks also served as housing.
Why Did Eagle Mountain Mine Close?
In 1981, after 35 years of production, Kaiser Corporation closed its mining operation. As the main source of income in the town dried up, most of the population left. Eagle Mountain's last store closed in 1982, and then the Post Office as well, in 1983.
Eagle Mountain’s Abandoned Prison
A few attempts were made to bring the town back to life. In 1986 the Department of Corrections converted a shopping center in the town into a private prison for low risk inmates. It operated from 1991 to 2003, providing income for the locals.
After the prison closed, the town emptied out again as there was no employer to pay a wage.
Sanitary Landfill Proposal
In 1989 Kaiser Ventures, the successor to Kaiser Steel, proposed to turn the open pit mine into a sanitary landfill. Garbage would be shipped in on the rail line from Fontana to Eagle Mountain. Many disapproved of the idea of garbage disposal right next to Joshua Tree National Park however, so the lawsuits began. In 2011, the lawsuits were still proceeding, but the plan was dropped by the landfill owners – effectively ending the landfill proposal.
The railroad ties and rails were pulled up and sold for recycling; all that remains now is the old bed for the tracks.
Renewable Energy - Hydropower Project
In 2015 Eagle Crest Energy Company purchased the rights to the old pit mines. The company proposes to use the old Kaiser mining pits for a $2 billion hydropower project that would boost renewable energy use in Southern California and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Eagle Crest would build an upper lake and a lower reservoir in the mine pits. Pumping water to the upper lake in the day, then letting the water flow back at night would generate electricity.
Another Abandoned Mining Town
The plans have been approved but no work has started at the site as of May 2019. With construction still years away, the license lapsed at the end of June 2018. Eagle Crest will have to seek a new license, which may trigger an additional environmental review. Environmentalists fear the company's plans to use well water to fill the lakes will impact the groundwater in the area, endangering the unique plants and wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park. The project was canceled.
Meanwhile the wind still whistles through the empty streets of Eagle Mountain.
Eagle Mountain, CA. Sold for $22.5 Million in April 2023
On April 17th, 2023, the land and mining site of Eagle Mountain, California, were purchased for a staggering $22.5 million by California-based Ecology Mountain Holdings. The buyer's intentions for the area remain unknown, leaving many intrigued about the future of this abandoned ghost town. Read more about the purchase of Eagle Mountain in April of 2023.
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