The ghost town of Eagle Mountain located in the California desert has been purchased for $22.5 million by a mysterious buyer. Their reasons for purchasing the town are currently unknown.
Founded in 1948, Eagle Mountain is formally a company town that housed employees of Kaiser Steel. Lush with palm trees, the community provided an idyllic backdrop for roughly 4,000 residents. Many of these residents worked for the nearby mine drilling, blasting, and shoving iron ore. At its peak, the mine broke records for daily production levels, unfortunately only a few short years later it was phased out. Leaving the company town almost abandoned for decades.
That is until April 17th, when the real property and mining claims were sold for approximately $22.5 million. The seller is a company based in Ontario, California, aptly named Eagle Mountain Acquisition LLC. Apparently, this is the last Kaiser Steel subsidiary to own the town for the past 40 years. A “for sale” sign has been posted at the town’s entrance promising rock products and minerals for quite some time.
The mystery buyer is known as Ecology Mountain Holdings, an LLC. Basically, the only publicly available information about the company is a Cerritos, California business address. While there is an Ecology Transportation Services based in Cerritos, which is known for its red big rigs, representatives from that company have declined to comment. But according to one former Eagle Mountain employee, large red trucks have been regularly seen in the area. Given the reasons for the town being abandoned, the buyer could have any number of planned uses for the property.
At its height Eagle Mountain house about 977 Kiser Steel employees. By 1953, 5 years after it was founded, the town opened its first little post office. And by little we mean it was based out of the postmaster’s living room. In 1962 the town had expanded enough to open its own high school with over 100 students attending.
A year later, Kaiser Steel got a large contract with the Japanese company Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha for 6 million tons of iron ore pellets. By 1975 they were setting a record for productivity by hauling an impressive 350,000 tons of material.
Sadly, just 5 years later, staff began getting laid off after several consecutive years of losses. In November of 1981, Kaiser Steel Corporation’s board of directors announced it would begin phasing out the mine entirely. Eagle Mountain being shuttered forced the town to evict just 2 years later. A devastating loss for many, especially the ones who grew up there. “It’s like a piece of your heart is being ripped out,” Vicky Yates, a high schooler raised there, told the New York Times.
“I’m angry at President Reagan for not helping the steel industry out more,” she lamented. “But for me, Eagle Mountain is still going to be home. It’s where my basic feelings are coming from. I’ll always remember it and I’m sure it will hurt just as much in 20 years.”
In 1988, there was an attempt to remake the town as a low-security prison called the Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility. The bowling alley, cafe, and other buildings were repurposed to house 438 inmates. Most of which were serving time for parole violations and other nonviolent offenses. The prision focused on career development as a way to reduce recidivism. But in October of 2003, there was a riot caused by the World Series. Two men lost their lives and eight inmates were charged with murder due to it.
Since then, outside of a few foremen who live on the premises full-time, and a still active school of 2 dozen students, the town has been abandoned for 20 years. Though it does see some action still from urban explorers breaking in [for legal reasons, we’d obviously advise against being one of them]. Hollywood has also come to call on Eagle Mountain for its surreal, reclaimed-by-the-elements appearance. The climax for the Christopher Nolan film “Tenet” used the ghost town’s mechanical wreckage as a backdrop.
We’ll keep you posted on updates about this (maybe now former) ghost town as they become available.