Unlike the gold, interest in the Tropico Gold Mine has yet to run out. Although there are constant inquiries from would-be visitors, Southern California's largest gold mine today stands deserted, an abandoned boom town since closing in 1956.
Located about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles near the Kern County community of Rosamond, the 100-year-old mine proved a popular tourist attraction before closing because of a lack of liability insurance. The operators say they receive nearly 40 phone calls each weekend from the curious, those hoping to see where $8 million in gold was extracted and fortunes were made in the nearly 60 years after the turn of the century. Although the gold mill sometimes is used to crush ore from surrounding sites, the empty buildings, unmoved ore carts and dust-covered tools testify to the fate of a bygone industry.
Glen Settle, 75, was the mine's general manager and now his family owns the property. A $2-million bid to sell the mine a decade ago failed. The mine could open again if the price of an ounce of gold tops $600, Settle said. But with the price of an ounce of gold now hovering near $470 and the cost of liability insurance remaining high, it is unlikely interest will be turned into activity at the Tropico Gold Mine anytime soon.