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Lonesome Ranch is literally a gold mine, but it's more than that. This remote and enormous ranch was a gold mining community, a place where thousands of prospectors lived, worked, and died 150 years ago. Set deep in California's Sequoia National Forest and littered with remnants of the Gold Rush era, the property is for sale for $2.5 million.
At over 197 acres, the place "was almost like a town" in 1867, says listing agent Shamon Shamonki. The area hosted over 4,000 miners as evidenced by the nine historic cabins, six abandoned gold mines, and a broken-down brothel. For a few years, the mining camp boomed before turning into a ghost town by the early 1870s.
The property up for sale is 17 parcels of land, which the current owner, a retired DJ named Simon T., accumulated over the years. Simon began buying land in the early '80s from a man named "Lonesome Al" and named the compound after him when Lonesome Al died 20 years ago.
Three of the cabins have been restored while keeping the rustic charm of the 1860s. Aside from a couple of modern conveniences -- sinks and toilets -- there are gas lamps and vintage stoves to keep "an authenticity of the era," Shamonki explains. It took Simon a decade of work to restore the cabins.
Prospective buyers might want to bring along a flashlight and pick -- one of the mine's entrance is hidden behind a cupboard in the brothel's kitchen. Abandoned mining equipment, including sluice boxes and mining carts, dot the property, There's even a small graveyard.
"Maybe a gun fight over a prostitute broke out or whatever the case may be, whatever happened, and they buried a few in the area, which they then turned into a cemetery," Shamonki says. The property also has Native American grinding circles, where Piute tribe members came during the summer "to grind food and get away from the heat," Shamonki says.
Today, Lonesome Ranch is a place to escape from city life. The property offers an off-the-grid lifestyle with numerous solar panels, propane tanks, generators, satellite phone and internet, wells, streams, and even a water tower. There's a helipad right outside a converted barn; however, if the weather gets too rough, you can park your chopper indoors.
Simon T. told us in an email that the property's main cabin used to be "a very small log cabin of 20' x 30'" from the original mining camp, but it has been expanded over the years.
Because the property is made up of 17 separate land parcels, Shamonki says a buyer would have the right to build 17 single-family residences "at the very least," which opens up a slew of investment opportunities. "You could build your own community, or turn it into a full-blast historic-style environment. Some people are talking about turning it into a glamping getaway," Shamonki says.
And hey -- if you (or someone else) ends up meeting an untimely demise in these hills, at least there's a place to rest your bones once and for all.