They Live Alone in Ghost Towns

There are some 3,800 ghost towns in the United States, most abandoned in the 19th and early 20th centuries in favor of bigger cities, or casualties of changing industry. Some languish as ruins, others are designated as national parks. And a rare handful are in the midst of being developed into luxury vacation spots.The old silver mining town of Cerro Gordo, Calif., nestled in the high-desert mountains near Death Valley, is one of those. It was purchased in 2018 by two entrepreneurs, who planned to convert it into a “destination for dreamers” — an Instagrammably rustic resort, open to overnight accommodations as soon as this spring.In March, one of the entrepreneurs, Brent Underwood, left for a trip to the lonely location that was only meant to last a week or two. Instead, a pandemic and then an unseasonable snowstorm hit, making it close to impossible for him to leave. (The next closest town is three hours away by car, and an eight and a half mile drive down a steep washboard road separates the camp from the main highway.)
After months of imposed isolation, Mr. Underwood, 32, said he plans to stay indefinitely. He’s learned to “slow down and let stillness reveal what is most important,” he said.
ImageA mine explored by Mr. Underwood in Cerro Gordo.Credit…Brent Underwood

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