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Panamint City
Area of Panamint (official name) or Panamint City and Panamint Springs
—  Unincorporated community  —
Panamint is located in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 36°07′06″N 117°05′43″W / 36.11833°N 117.09528°W / 36.11833; -117.09528Coordinates: 36°07′06″N 117°05′43″W / 36.11833°N 117.09528°W / 36.11833; -117.09528
Country United States
State California
County Inyo County
Elevation [1] 6,302 ft (1,921 m)

Panamint City is a ghost town in the Panamint Range, near Death Valley, in Inyo County, California, USA. It is also known by the official Board of Geographic Names identity, Panamint. [2] Panamint was a boom town founded after silver and copper were found there in 1872.[3] By 1874, the town had a population of about 5,000.[3] Its main street was one mile (1.6 km) long.[3] Panamint had its own newspaper, the Panamint News. Silver was the principal product mined in the area. The town is located about three miles northwest of Sentinel Peak. According to the National Geographic Names Database, NAD27 latitude and longitude for the locale are 36°07′06″N 117°05′43″W / 36.11833°N 117.09528°W / 36.11833; -117.09528 and the feature ID number is 1661185. The elevation of this location is identified as being 6,280 feet AMSL. The similar-sounding Panamint Springs, California, is located about 25.8 miles at 306.4 degrees off true north near Panamint Junction. [4]



Panamint City is the site of the largest and most elaborate group of Coso Painted Style pictographs. The presence of these pictographs indicates that Surprise Canyon was inhabited by Shoshone and/or Kawaiisu not long before the town was founded. [5]

Silver was discovered by William L. Kennedy, Robert L. Stewart, and Richard C. Jacobs, bandits who were using Surprise Canyon as a hideout. E. P. Raines, an early investor in Panamint mining, convinced a group of Los Angeles businessmen to build a wagon road and then moved on to San Francisco, where he met Nevada Senator John P. Jones. Jones and the other Nevada Senator, William M. Stewart, created the Panamint Mining Company and bought up the larger mines. The two were quite famous for their heavy involvement in silver mining in Nevada, and their interest in Panamint started the boom.

Founded in 1873-74, the town grew to include many mills, saloons, stores, a red light district, a cemetery—all built along the uppermost end of Surprise Canyon. Panamint City was regarded as a "bad and wicked" town, with Death Valley at one end of town and the Panamint Range at the other end. Because of Panamint City's lawless reputation, Wells Fargo refused to open an office there. The senators solved the question of how to transport the silver bullion from the mines by casting it into 450-pound cannonballs, which were hauled to Los Angeles in an unguarded wagon.[6]

It is widely thought that on July 24, 1876, a flash flood roared down the canyon and washed out the entire town, however, this is simply a legend. The town was actually wiped out in a flash flood in 1901, long after it was abandoned. The County of Inyo maintained a graded road to Panamint City until about 1983, when a terrific series of cloudbursts completely washed the canyon out to bedrock.[7] This road permitted large vehicles such as house trailers and trucks with mining equipment to access Panamint City (some of these vehicles are abandoned there).

A post office operated at Panamint from 1874 to 1877, from 1882 to 1883, and from 1887 to 1895.[3]

Panamint City and much of Surprise Canyon were added to Death Valley National Park in 1994. Today, Panamint City is accessible only by a 7.5 mile hike, strenuous for even experienced hikers.

Nearby features

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Panamint City, California
  2. ^ Panamint, California, 7.5-minute quadrangle, US Geological Survey, 1988 and National Geographic Names Database, US Geological Survey.
  3. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 1192. ISBN 9781884995149.  
  4. ^ Panamint Springs, California, 7.5-minute quadrangle, US Geological Survey, (1986), Panamint, California, 7.5-minute quadrangle, US Geological Survey, (1988) and National Geographic Names Database, US Geological Survey, March, 1998.
  5. ^ Garfinkel, Alan. "The Coso Painted Style (Pictographs)". Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  6. ^ Vredenburgh, Larry; G. Shumway and R. Hartill. "Desert Fever: An Overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area". Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  7. ^ Wright, David A.. "Panamint City — California Ghost Town". Ghost Towns of California. Retrieved 2007-01-22.  
  8. ^ Panamint, California, 7.5-minute quadrangle, US Geological Survey, 1988

External links



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