7 Abandoned Buildings on State Highway in California

California, a state steeped in history, culture, and natural splendor, harbors its fair share of abandoned places where time stands still, and nature reclaims the land. Along the state highway, an intriguing journey through the past awaits as you traverse. Here, discover seven abandoned buildings on the state highway in California that beckon exploration.

Desert View Tower

Nestled on In-Ko-Pah Road off Highway 8, near Jacumba Hot Springs, the Desert View Tower stands as a stone structure offering panoramic views of the desert and mountains. Constructed in 1922 by Bert Vaughn, a real estate developer with a vision to attract tourists, the tower features a museum, a gift shop, and Boulder Park—a quirky sculpture garden showcasing various animals and figures carved from rocks. Open to the public, the tower exudes a faded, neglected charm.

Mountain Meadows Dairy

Also known as Ketchum Ranch, this abandoned dairy farm, established in 1916 by William Ketchum, supplied milk to nearby towns until its closure in the 1950s due to competition and declining demand. The farm’s structures, including the barn, silo, and house, still stand, albeit in a state of decay. Visible from the road, exercise caution to avoid trespassing on private property.

Jacumba Hotel

Once a luxurious resort, the Jacumba Hotel now lies in ruins beside Highway 80. Built in 1925 by John and Helen Parkinson to capitalize on the popularity of natural hot springs, the hotel boasted 65 rooms, a swimming pool, a spa, and a ballroom, attracting celebrities and wealthy guests. However, a series of fires, culminating in arson in 1983, led to the hotel’s demolition in 1991, leaving only a chimney and debris behind.

Railway Yard

Adjacent to the Jacumba Hotel, remnants of the Carrizo Railway Yard showcase decaying wooden passenger railcars from the San Diego and Arizona Railway, built in 1919 by John D. Spreckels. Plagued by natural disasters, the railway was abandoned in 1983, with some railcars repurposed as homes by squatters. Today, they stand as haunting remnants of a bygone era.

Keller House

Perched on a hill overlooking Highway 101 near Carlsbad, the Keller House, constructed in 1896 by German immigrant John Keller, once withstood California wildfires. Abandoned in the 1970s when the ranch was sold and developed, the stone house now sits behind a fence, a stark contrast to the modern buildings nearby, with a warning sign about rattlesnakes and asbestos.

Cerro Gordo

In the Inyo Mountains, off Highway 395 near Lone Pine, lies the ghost town of Cerro Gordo. Established in 1865 by Mexican prospector Pablo Flores as a silver mining town, Cerro Gordo peaked with over 4,000 residents and $17 million worth of silver production. Abandoned in the 1950s, many buildings remain intact, including a saloon, hotel, church, and cemetery, accessible by appointment.

Donner Pass Summit Tunnels

The Donner Pass Summit Tunnels, a series of tunnels through the Sierra Nevada near Truckee, were constructed in the 1860s for the transcontinental railroad. Serving as the first tunnels to traverse the mountains, their completion came at a human cost due to accidents, explosions, and avalanches. Abandoned in 1993 when a new route opened, the tunnels have since become a canvas for graffiti artists and a haven for explorers. Caution is advised for those venturing through, mindful of darkness, cold, and debris.


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