From where the Merchants' Exchange Hotel would have been I went down to one of the remaining artifacts you could see in the distance. I then turned around and took a picture of where I was just at:Then I wanted to show how far I was from the other reference point, the wall, in the distance.This is part of an old stamp mill that was used here. On the metal parts down below it states, "Risdon Iron Works SF CAL 1896". So, this was much later than the mills used during the 1860's.
There is one thing I should add to the above that I did not mention in the video. The actual site was used as a a foundry, blacksmith shop, and a stamp mill. It was owned by a G.W. Coffee going back to 1863. So, the remains below go back to 1896, but the site itself was used for one of the mills going back to the boom years. There were around 17 stamp mills at the time in Aurora.I went back close to where the Exchange Hotel would have been and tried to get close enough to where the main street, Pine Street, would have looked going east. The next blogs will cover the east side of the street.
From the above picture I moved forward heading back to the main crossroads. I encountered a brick foundation. I mentioned in the last blog that brick was the primary material used in Aurora and not wood. Unlike Bodie's remains of wood, Aurora's downfall for the modern historian was because it was made of brick. Way after Aurora became a permanent ghost town in the 1920's, sometime around the WW2 era of the 1940's, companies and other people came to this ghost town to scavenge it for the bricks. That material could be re-used elsewhere. While tourists did come and take things, the main reason nothing is left today is because of the valuable brick it was made of.So, you can find the remains of bricks like this around. A good reason we have a good portion of Bodie remaining these days is because of the lesson learned from what happened at Aurora. It is one of those things that, for me, hurts to think about. I have read one or two accounts of people that had once lived here, had no idea what was going on after they left, only to be very shocked when coming back to visit.
What would have happened if no one took anything? Well, the brick material was still a product of its time. Over time the weathering forces of nature would have had an effect on the bricks and other structures holding up the buildings. So it would not be the case one could come to a 21st century fully intact Aurora. More than likely, they would have decayed and come tumbling down. However, we will never know exactly what would still be remaining. We still would have had something more than today. If the historical concerns of today had been around then much more could have been preserved. It's too bad, but in many ways the Bodie tourist has much to thank for the Aurora legacy. Yet, most people that visit Bodie have no clue about Aurora.
Aurora Ghost Town: West Pine Street (Youtube Version)
Aurora Ghost Town: West Pine Street (Vimeo Version)