Monday, August 19, 2013

Fenner, California -- Route 66 Ghost Town

Like many other Route 66 Ghost Towns across the Mojave Desert, Fenner was established (in 1883) as a watering station for steam locomotives operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Other than that fact, there doesn't seem to be anymore information relating to Fenner available.  Fenner of course is the "F" town in the alphabetical naming process conceived by the railroad for this part of the desert. (Amboy, Bristol, Chambless, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Ibis and Java)

I've only heard one story relating to Fenner.  As legend has it, during a national railroad mechanics strike in the 1920's, two scabs (non-union people working during the strike) hired by the Santa Fe RR in Fenner, were kidnapped, taken deep into the desert, made to totally disrobe and left there. This act was to serve as a warning to other scabs, to not take these jobs. Did the two guys live or die? Not only do I not know that, I don't even know if the story is true.

There are no official population estimates of Fenner, but I'm pretty sure that the number is zero.  However, there are a few people around.  One adventurous soul has opened a gas station/cafe in the same area.  Some of you wondered how far people would travel to get their mail at the cute little post office in Essex (from my last post), well this guy does, because Fenner doesn't have a post office.

By the way...
Today's weather forecast for Fenner is... 103F, rain and thunder storms likely.


One thing that Fenner left behind, was the town dump. The good stuff has mostly been buried by the new stuff, but you know that doesn't stop my wife and I from doing some digging.  This tire was taller than I am. I'm sure the rubber content has to be worth a lot. Too bad we couldn't fit it in the jeep.

 Tammy Loves Scummy!

I was afraid to see what (or who) was wrapped up in that black plastic in the middle of the room. I hope it wasn't Tammy!

There is a lot of trash/junk/treasure buried under this dirt. 


 Very old style automotive oil dip stick


Although we didn't find a lot of antique treasures, we did find this airplane wing!  You know what else I found? I found a bunch of medical waste? I don't know if it was legally dumped or not, but it made me quit digging and use about a quart of hand sanitizer. It also had me wondering how long it had been since my last tetanus injection. 


The little building on the left, is probably the ONLY original thing still standing in Fenner.

It seems that half the old pickup trucks and cars ever made are abandoned in the desert. This nice group is just sitting there in Fenner.  A couple of these, especially the car on the right are worth some money, but...

If you look just behind that pick up truck, there is a red antique gas pump, just sitting there!  I promise you that it is worth some good money. The guys from American Pickers would be all over this thing.  Also, look at the building/shack. It might be an original Fenner building attached to an Airstream trailer. I don't know what it is, but it looks like a great example of some fine desert engineering...


Not a tree in sight. Fenner is the little purple spot in the middle. Essex, from last week, is on the very bottom, towards the left. The yellowish line connecting Essex to Fenner is the original National Trails Highway. The NTH was later included in the original alignment of Route 66. Now check this out! Fenner, Goffs (above Fenner) and Homer were not only bypassed by the I-40, they were also bypassed once by Route 66 when the government moved it!  The newer Route 66 alignment goes from Essex (on the bottom) to the same path as the newer I-40.  I hope this confuses you less than it confused me! 


The arrow in the top right corner is the original Fenner dump. The arrow in the middle is point right towards the new gas station and cafe. The arrow pointing up, is point at the old route 66. The yellow lines at the bottom are the Interstate-40.  If you enlarge this photo, you can see the buildings at the old dump. Thanks to Google Maps for the image.
.......................
This week we are back in the area of the Chariot Fire. It has been almost a month since the fire and we have some updates coming for you.


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52 comments:

Carmi Levy said...

If only these relics could talk, I'm guessing the stories would be epic. Or not: maybe this was just another frontier town in the middle of virtually nowhere, its residents focused on day-to-day subsistence just Iike folks in any other small town.

We'll never really know, of course, but it's enough to stare over your shoulder through this amazing set of pics and wonder. It's good for the soul to wonder a bit about what once was. I glad you stopped - and went digging - here.

DEZMOND said...

love that first pic with the tyre, Pat!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You might want to get a tetanus shot soon!
That's weird there was an airplane wing. Must've been a small airport there at one point.
That tire was taller than you? Whoa...

Shelly said...

The weather forecast of Fenner sounds much like it is here for us. I wonder why whoever owns what is left of that town doesn't do more salvaging. As you said, there are some things worth some money there.

And medical waste? Ugh!!! Glad you had the hand sanitizer!

Siddhartha Joshi said...

Superb shots Partick!

TexWisGirl said...

medical waste? scary stuff to be digging around in!!! i bet some metal collectors would love to get some of those vehicles - but the hauling would take quite a bit of gas, i'm guessing.

sylvia kirkwood said...

Terrific captures as always, Pat! I have to admit that I prefer our predicted high for the day -- 82 degrees! Makes you wonder how/why anyone would live in such an area, ah, but we're all different, aren't we!!

Pat Tillett said...

Carmi - Although these towns (that I've been presenting) have many similarities, I'm agree that the stories would be epic. I badly wish my granny was alive today, because she would know a lot of those stories. Thanks Carmi! I can't wait to get back out there.

DEZMOND - Thanks Dezmond! It was huge.

Alex - I probably should get one! You are right about the airport, but I'm saving that for a future mega post!

Shelly - I hear you about the salvage. I guess the other side of the coin is leaving it all for the historic value. I was digging in an old part of the dump and found a bunch of these amazing looking glass things (I don't know what to call them). Obviously antique and used for some type of medical or lab purpose. They had round bottoms, so they had to sit in a rack or something. I've searched the internet high and low and have seen nothing like them. I think I'm going to go back in the fall. There was a bunch of old medical stuff on top of them, so I just reburied it all and left.

Siddhartha Joshi - Thanks so much! I appreciate that..

TexWixGirl - Yeah very scary! That is why I reburied it all. But I WILL go back and find them again. I like to have the vehicles and restore them. There were also a few crashed "newer" 40 foot trailers there.

Sylvia K - Thanks Sylvia! I agree about the heat. Where I live it is 72 degrees right now with a high under 80. Of course, we aren't home! It's in the 80-95 range where we are right now for the next couple of weeks.

Ms. A said...

Judging from the size of that Renegade tire below it, that tire is HUGE!

Medical waste? Ooooh, that's scary!

Brian said...

Those were great Pat but we wonder about the rest of the airplane!

Betsy Adams said...

I'm surprised that more people aren't at Fenner digging for treasures... I'll bet one could find a ton of good stuff!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing Fenner with us --and glad you didn't get hurt from that medical waste...Yipes.
Hugs,
Betsy

EG CameraGirl said...

Humans sure do leave a lot behind when they leave a place, don't they. I'm glad the medical waste made you think twice abiut digging there!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh gosh, be careful out there. What a place....typical desert.

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

An airplane wing? Doesn't that make you wonder where the rest of it is? If Tammy loves scummy, she's in the right place. You have found another amazing collection!! I love it all.

Carol Lara said...

Awesome adventure.

Pat Tillett said...

Ms. A - Yes it is THAT huge! I know right where I reburied that stuff and I am going back!

Brian - I was wondering that myself Brian. I hope it was trashed in a ground accident and not in the air.

Betsy - I'm surprised also, but happy that they don't. I wish I could have shared more about Fenner.

EG CameraGirl - We are a messy species, that's for sure! It not only made me think twice, it made me think three times, because I'm going back to get something...

Sallie - We are always careful out there. Heck, we're careful wherever we go!

Wayne - It does make me wonder. Maybe the rest of the plane is still up there, doing a continuous turn.

Carol - Thanks! We have a good time.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Back again..I had to leave in the middle of commenting earlier...I was so interested to learn about the alphabetical scheme for the town names. Never realized that. And now I'm wondering how far they go...am sure you'll let us discover them with you. Fennel really had a lot of " artifacts' .left behind!

Johnny Yen said...

That was fascinating! It reminds me of when I used to go with my grandfather in Arizona to his placer mine claim up in the mountains near Phoenix.

I'm surprised about the airplane wing; scrap aluminum brings a pretty penny. There are people here in Chicago who make their living "canning;" going through the alleys and garbage cans collecting aluminum cans.

The medical waste is not nice! As a nurse, I deal with it all the time, both sharps and biohazard. That angers me that someone would be that callous as to leave it where it could hurt someone.

Stickup Artist said...

How fantastic! This is a completely new location for me. I've never heard of it. The airplane wing, antique gas pump and old cars are amazing finds. It's amazing how these gems are left alone in the desert. In the cities, they would be long gone and picked apart. Which leads me to strengthen my belief the desert traveler is altogether a different breed...

Cezar and Léia said...

wow that first image is awesome, I love b&w and this one is special!Great job!
Léia

Cezar and Léia said...

wow that first image is awesome, I love b&w and this one is special!Great job!
Léia

ladyfi said...

Great shots - that first one is a masterpiece!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for showing us Fenner, Pat. I wouldn't want to check it out on my own. I'm guessing that's Scummy in the plastic bag in the middle of the room. Yikes.

Be well.
xoRobyn

Icy BC said...

Wow...many interesting things in Fenner! Those old cars and trucks should worth some good money, and I was thinking about the American Pickers too. They wouldn't even have to make a deal :-)

Stewart M said...

Dont look in the bag Pat!!

Great set of pictures.

My comment about Queenscliff rebirthing itself as a tourist destination was more of an observation than a criticism - I know what its like to come from places that lose there old employment base. In fact I think QC is doing a reasonable job - they seem to have stuff in place to protect the "street-scape", but have new buildings down on the water front.

Thanks for the comment on the wordy blog.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

PS: the literary reference is to "The World According to Garp"

Al said...

Nice photos, but you're more adventurous than me digging in that area!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Seriously Pat I find this series totally fascinating. To think that the desert is littered with old trucks and cars and treasures that if only they weren't so difficult to retrieve people would be all over them is amazing. It's such a classic case of short term thinking, to be bypassed once was bad enough but twice, that's impossible to survive as you've shown us here. It must be quite fun though driving through these deserted towns looking for treasures :)

Jesh St Germain said...

You have become an expert of finding/digging abandoned stuff. If I would be an antique cars lover, I would go to Fenner!

Leovi said...

Yes, Solo has been garbage in the desert! Surprising that airplane wing! Nice pictures!

Pat Tillett said...

Sallie - Thanks for coming back! I know who named the towns and I know why he did it, but the alphabetical part, I'm still working on. I'll do a post on it when I have all the details. I will tell you now that the towns in order (on the map) are Amboy, Bristol, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Ibis and Java.

Johnny Yen - That must have been exciting to go with your grandfather. There is a lot of scrap out there, but I'd rather see the junk stay if it means the interesting stuff is left alone also. I was pretty surprised to see what I was digging in.

Stickup Artist - Maybe one of these days you will get out there. I agree about most desert folks. I know I've said it before, but my granny was one of those people and she introduced me to it all.

Cezar and Leia - Thanks Leia! I appreciate that. These area are much different from your beautiful travel destinations.

ladyfi - Thanks so much! I like that one as well.

Robyn - My pleasure Robyn. I agree! I hope it was Scummy and not Tammy. One of the great things about the desert is that most people will these things alone, even if they have value.

Pat Tillett said...

Icy BC - I'm not sure most people would agree with that, but I sure do!

Stewart - Not a chance that I'm looking in that thing! I didn't think what you said about Queenscliff was a criticism at all Steward. Some times a historic old place has to change to survive. Even if it is a little corny and they sell fridge magnets there now, at least it's still there, right?
The comment on your other blog was my pleasure. I was serious when I said that the post belonged in a travel magazine. You are a first rate photographer and a great writer.

Al - Thanks Al! Pretty soon there will be so much modern trash on top of it, that none of it will matter.

PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks so much! I really do appreciate that. It is a lot of fun and we do find treasures. We never take them though. I know it seems as if there is a huge amount of junk laying about in the desert, but most of the desert is pristine wilderness.

Jesh - Thanks Jesh! I wish I was an expert at it. I also wish I was younger!

Leovi - Yes it was a surprise! Thanks Leovi!

mshatch said...

Boy, I'd love to explore some of these old ghost towns - maybe bring a tow truck and haul a way a cool classic car :)

Chrissy Brand said...

Really enjoying your Route 66 ghost town posts Patrick- fab photos too.

M Pax said...

The shot with the tire is awesome. Really artistic. At least there are bits of ghost towns left down there. Up here, there's nothing left. Maybe a tree.

Baby Sister said...

I've loved reading about all of your adventures!! It's amazing to me how many towns you have found along the way. And why anyone would want to set up shop in one of these towns....well, no thank you.

Pat Tillett said...

mshatch - When you do start to explore the area, these places will still be there!

Chrissy - Thanks so much on both counts Chrissy!

M Pax - Thanks Mary! There are more ghost towns in Oregon than people think!

Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! There is micro-culture of folks who love these places and the internet is a really good tool for finding them these days.

Tammy Theriault said...

trust me...i don't love scummy. he is such a ... a...scum!

Pat Tillett said...

Tammy - HA! I was in mid swallow when I read this. I had to fight spraying it all over the room. A little bit did come out my nose though...

James said...

Very cool shots!

These pictures really stir my imagination. I try to imagine what these places were like in years past.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Great post Pat - very informative, with lots of information, original photographs, maps, a story and the corpse of Tammy lol

Fascinating. I only assume you're travelling in a vehicle you can sleep in as there never seems to be much around. I love it though and you must be in heaven. What a treat that your wife values the same experience you do. You're a lucky man.

A great trip to remember.

Rosemary Nickerson said...

This was a fun post. I like how you do your investigative reporting, together with photo documentation. You've missed your calling, Pat. Enjoy your rambles and travels.

Pat Tillett said...

James - Thanks James! I guess this shows my age, but I do remember them. Unfortunately, I was a kid and didn't pay as much attention as I do now. I wish I had a camera back then.

Anthony - Thanks Anthony! Poor Tammy... We do travel in something we can sleep in. Behind it, we tow a jeep.

Rosemary - Thanks Rosemary! I really like the research part, but I limit how much of it I put on my blog. There seems to be very little available info on Fenner.

prince hossain said...

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costs you nothing, provides all kinds of energy and effort that doesn't show up on a stat
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prince hossain said...

Letting the Junk Yard Dog go seemed like a mistake. He was certainly willing to stay. He
costs you nothing, provides all kinds of energy and effort that doesn't show up on a stat
sheet, and he's a decent shooter. Corbin never seemed to have a use for him last year,
but he could have helped this year's team more. Sad to see him go.suddenly if you are
face to accident attorney utah,you know about
accident how to man`s life slow.

Pat Tillett said...

Prince Hossain - Okay, let's see:
1. You are a spammer
2. You are an ambulance chaser
3. You spammed me not once, but twice, with the same nonsense.

CONGRATULATIONS! You've just completed the scumbag trifecta...

Kato Pandorah's Box said...

So many cool things in this one!!

What kind of medical stuff???

Pat Tillett said...

Kato - Thanks! The medical stuff was mostly syringes and bandages. I'm going back though!

Gingerspark said...

I can't tell you how much I ADORE your travel blog pictures (and ...well... your photography in general :D )

Here's a question - in the photo of the old pickups (8th from top) there is a series of white-ish rows of something in the background (before the mountains) - any idea what they are?

Pat Tillett said...

In person it looks like the area was terraced or something like that. It looks too linear to be natural. Right?

Gingerspark said...

Yeah, it looks way too linear and regular to be natural.

Anonymous said...

I have one memory of Fenner. June 2013 I drove Rt 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica and had to stop in Fenner for a gas, then before I left my oil light came on and needed oil. While I saw prices for gas in the $4.25 range during my trip(and I later discovered this was about as high as gas prices climbed anywhere at that time) The Fenner station charges $5.25, a full dollar per gallon more. Oil was $12.00 a quart, Ice was $8.00 for a small bag. But the best thing were the shirts the attendants wore which matched the sign at the registers. It said, basically "If you want to come in and look, fine. If you want to come in and purchase, great. But don't come in here and complain about the prices. It costs money to haul all this stuff out in the middle of the desert so that people like you have it to purchase!

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