Photographer's Note

Donna was the sole human inhabitant of Ballarat, an abandoned gold-mining town in the Panamint Valley next to Death Valley, when we called in March last year.
Built in 1897 after the discovery of gold nearby, and named for the Australian mining town, it serviced the adjacent mines until 1917. A few stumps of adobe walls, some shrivelled and dessicated timber planks and beams, and barely rusted metal detritus litter the desert floor as a reminder of the febrile life of the gold rush.
This sole remaining weather-tight building has the appearance of being built as a filling-station, though which oil company would be profligate enough to have a filling station here is unfathomable. Another possibility is hinted at by a hand-carved notice back on the 'main' road which states that 'the jail and a few adobe ruins remain'.
A track runs up into the Panamint Range from here towards the Barker Ranch in Goler Wash where Charles Manson and his 'family' holed up after the notorious Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, according to the Rough Guide. Donna is unlikely to be a remnant of that 'family' as the notice mentions the death of the last resident, Seldom-seen Slim, in 1968. The notice is dated 1992 by the 'Death Valley Escape Trail Conf. Trona Chapter'.

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Additional Photos by Peter Turner (petertee) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 54 W: 2 N: 59] (307)
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