The cave homes of Dublin Gulch in Shoshone, CA and the old borax mining company theater that was transformed into the Amargosa Opera House by artist/performer Marta Becket.
The Dublin Gulch caves are near the town of Shoshone, CA. They are dug out of volcanic ash from a Lava Creek eruption in Yellow Stone National Park, over 600 thousand years ago.
It is unknown when the Dublin Gulch caves where dug out and first inhabited, however it’s estimated that it was likely in the late 1870’s during the silver boom at the Noonday Mines.
The cave’s have been home to many people over the years, most of them being local miners. They remained occupied up until the 1970’s.
Over the years the people living here upgraded their dwellings to include gas stoves, ice boxes, wood floors, shelving, and more. It is said that as residents of the caves would die, or move on, that other residents would move quickly to occupy the empty cave if it was more spacious or had more amenities.
Today you can walk around the cave community but entering the dwellings would be considered trespassing and is not recommended.
While you’re in the area, make sure to check out the nearby Shoshone Museum…
…where you’ll find the bones and teeth of the Shoshone Mammoth, which were found in ancient Lake Tecopa.
Abandoned filling station in Death Valley Junction; a tiny Mojave Desert ghost town just east of Death Valley National Park. The name of the town was changed to Death Valley Junction from Amargosa (bitter in Spanish, most likely meaning “bitter water”, as the Spanish words agua and amargosa are feminine). From 1923 to 1925 the Pacific Coast Borax Company constructed buildings in the town, hiring architect Alexander Hamilton McCulloch to design a Spanish Colonial Revival whistle stop centered at the hotel, theater and office complex building, now known as the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.
The town began to decline in the mid-20th century.
In 1967 dancer and actress Marta Becket pulled in to Death Valley Junction for an automobile repair. She became enamored with the old company theatre, and with help from benefactors, she leased, then purchased, the hotel and theater complex. Marta Becket rented the recreation hall in 1967, when it was known as Corkhill Hall; she began repairs, created the sets, and painted murals on the adobe walls. She renamed it the Amargosa, the original name of the former mining town. In the early years of the theater, there were few visitors, sometimes, none at all so she soon began to paint an audience on the wall. From 1968 to 1972, characters from the past including kings and queens, Native Americans, bullfighters, gypsies, and more took shape. After four years of painstaking work, she then began painting the ceiling with cherubs, billowing clouds and ladies playing antique musical instruments.
In 1970, journalists from National Geographic discovered Becket doing a performance at the Amargosa Opera House without an audience. Their profile and another in Life Magazine led to an international interest in Becket and her theater.
She began performing to visitors from around the world, including such notables as Ray Bradbury and Red Skelton. In 1974, Becket completed her murals and established the nonprofit Amargosa Opera House, Inc. to continue preservation of the property. Through the Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit bought the town of Death Valley Junction, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 10, 1981.
In 1983, the Opera House bought 120 theater seats from the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada to replace the worn garden chairs.
The Amargosa Hotel is open year round for visitors from all over the world. Beyond these maintained areas, the town of Death Valley Junction is almost a ghost town.
It was also the “Lost Highway Hotel” in David Lynch’s Lost Highway.