Surrounded by Joshua Tree National Park on three sides, Eagle Mountain is more of a ghost city than a ghost town. Probably the largest and best preserved ghost town in the states. Once home to 4,000 residences the town featured three schools, eight churches, bowling alley, hospital and over 400 homes. All to support the iron mining operations.
Eagle Mountain Mine was purchased from the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1942 by Kaiser Steel who in 1932 had built the west coast first steel mill in Fontana. The mine supported increased production for WWII. In the 1970s environmentalist concerns for Joshua Tree National Park built up until the mine began a phased closure on November 3, 1981. The population dwindled and the by 1983 the post office and schools were closed. In 1986 the shopping center was converted to a prison which was closed in 2003 after a fatal riot. In 1988 Los Angeles planned to use the mine as a giant garbage pit but abandoned the plan after years of lawsuits from environmentalist.
The property has changed ownership many times over the years and has faced decades of lawsuits. Today it is a hodgepodge of BLM, Park Studies, State School Districts, Water Districts and private property.
Legend has it that the towns full service health care system provided by Kaiser Steel led Kaiser to the health care/hospital business as Kaiser Permanente. The town has been used in many movies and TV shows including Terminator and Top Gear. The town is NOT visible in Google Street View.
The main entrance creates a facade that the town is fenced and gated but there are several roads south of the town near the railroad tracks block only by small boulders which we simply rolled out of the way to explore the town. We saw a modern security guard truck parked near the gate and heard dogs barking in the distance but saw no other signs of human life as we drove around the town.