Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Calico, CA

So... the Rains are on the road again with a delightful Summer of travel plans awaiting us.  We will be passing through Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana and South Dakota.  We will also be passing through some other places but find it impossible to plan that far ahead, so we will have to wait and find out.  The dogs are rarin' to go and the motor home no longer leaks nor has any other major problems (of which we are aware).

We lit out of Aguanga on Apr 15 and headed east across the desert.  We are not into long drives anymore, so we just got as far as Calico/Yermo where we pulled off for the night.  There is an old KOA there we have stayed at before.  They were hosting some kind of Jeep Scout gathering so the early evening was filled with the sounds of inebriated 4 WD enthusiasts, but they were mostly passed out by midnight and we seldom go to bed before then these days anyway, so while mildly annoying they didn't keep us awake.

We had not bothered to fix breakfast before hitting the road, so by the time we got checked in, unhooked and the rig set up, we were more than ready to eat.  There is a diner in Yermo that was built way back in 1954, the heyday of Route 66.  It was constructed using left over railroad ties from the Union Pacific and originally had 3 tables and 9 counter stools.  This establishment went out of business in the 70s but was bought up, refurbished and expanded in the mid-80s and has be going great guns ever since under a sign that declares it to be Peggy Sue's 50s Diner.  I have no idea what it was called in 1954.  We've eaten here before when we stopped with Christopher in 2014 which you can read about here.  It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I assume under the Dives category.  The food is good but not great.  We had Buddy Holly Bacon Cheese Burgers and onion rings and they were probably the original recipe - hamburger on a bun.  Pleasant and filling.  We did not go out back to see the "Diner-saurs" in the play area, but I'm sure they were adorable.

Walter and Cordelia Knott stand in front of their only ride circa 1952

When I was a kid growing up in Whittier, we would periodically be carted off for a day of fun at Knott's Berry Farm.  Those were the days before the giant roller coasters, log flumes and Snoopy Ville (or whatever it is called).  The only ride was an old steam train that got robbed with alarming regularity.  The main reasons for driving out to Buena Park were to eat at Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Restaurant and to see the "Ghost Town" which consisted of a collection of old shacks that had been carted in from Calico when Walter Knott bought the old mining town in the 1950s.   Most of the buildings did not get shipped to the berry farm however.  They stayed where the town was built
Real Calico town site circa 2016
in 1881 after silver was discovered.  Over ten years the 500 mines in the area produced over $2 million worth of silver, then were abandoned when the price of silver crashed in the 1890s. When Walter bought the place he restored most of the town to its 1880s condition and set it up as another  tourist attraction, but most Angelinos preferred to go the the miniature version in Buena Park.  The original town is now part of the San Benardino County Parks system.

By the time we finished at the diner and got up the hill it was 4:30 and the ghost town closes at 5:00, so it didn't seem worthwhile to pay the 8 buck per person entry fee to go ghost hunting.  We drove around the camping area and looked in from the parking lot, then retreated back to our campground.  The next morning we went back to Peggy Sue's for pancakes and sausage, then hit the road for Nevada.
Tattered mine entrance on adjacent hill.


  1. Glad to see you back on the road. We love Nevada so I'm looking forward to your posts from there. Travel safe.

  2. Nice to see that you're back at it. Can't wait to see what's ahead! Safe travels! :)

  3. Great to hear you are on the road again.
    Enjoy and have fun!

  4. Huh. First day drive to Yermo, eat at Peggy's Diner, and don't actually visit Calico Ghost Town. I feel like I've read (and written) this story before somewhere. Did they update the trivia game at the diner at least?