Hey reddit,

My name is Brent and in July 2018 I purchased the former mining town of Cerro Gordo with my biz partner Jon and some friends. Cerro Gordo was once California’s largest producer of silver and once had nearly 5,000 residents and 500 buildings. Today, there are 22 buildings left, and I’m working to restore the town for more to be able to enjoy it. It’s an important piece of history.

They pulled nearly $500,000,000 worth of minerals out of Cerro Gordo and in it’s heyday, the town averaged a murder per week. That’s led to many paranormal experiences, rumors about hidden treasures, and many more legends around the town. I came up here in mid-March to act as caretaker. I imagined coming up for a few weeks. It’s been over 6 months now. During that time here was a few snowstorms, a devastating fire, earthquakes, a flood that washed out the road, and a lot more.

I did an AMA back in March or April and a lot of redditors suggested I start taking videos of the experience, so now I post on YouTube, and Instagram about the town. This video is recap of the 6 months here.

The 6 months has definitely changed me fundamentally and I plan on staying here full time for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, I’m here hanging in my cabin, and figured I’d do an AMA. So, AMA!

PROOF: photo of town today

Comments: 4578 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

Big_Tiz5945 karma

How much did the town cost and how were you able to afford it?

hkaustin7374 karma

$1.4M. I put essentially my life savings into it, convinced a lot of other people to put in, and took short term loans in order to close.

Kossimer5241 karma

This isn't an investment with an anticipated return, is it? What were you convincing them of exactly?

Rpanich11651 karma

“Dude it’s gonna be sweet!”

hkaustin12101 karma


vkashen555 karma

No, in all seriousness, in addition to collateral you need to show any qualified lenders (e.g. banks, etc, not friends and family) a proper business plan to assure them that you'll be able to have the cash flow and profit in order to secure a loan.

You don't have to get into specifics, but what is your plan to be able to repay those loans? Meaning what do you intend to do to the town to improve it and have the revenue needed to repay the loans? It looks like a pretty neat place (I remember your previous AMA) and I'm really curious how you plan to monetize and what you've done and intend to do. I'd love to be doing what you're doing. :)

Also, didn't you mention there is an old caretaker you've let stay? Or was that a different AMA I'm confusing your's with?

hkaustin1132 karma

I hope by next summer to have overnight accommodation options. Hopefully that will show the cashflow to refinance with a more traditional lender...

Caretaker is back home with family because of pandemic. I've been filling in for 7 months!

dogquote1034 karma

Similarly, what sort of liability did you accept when you bought it? I'm thinking of any potential environmental hazards left from the mining company, or the structures deteriorating, leeching lead or oil or asbestos or whatever. And liability to people driving through, coming to visit, etc.

hkaustin1750 karma

There's a lot of liability with an old mine. The one I'm most concerned with is people falling in old mine shafts. We have signs at the entrances of most and barb wire, but it's still a threat. In terms of environmental, they had inspected before and not raised issue on the property.

araed711 karma

Consideration for you:

There are a lot of mine explorers/caving groups who would love to come up and explore your mines. Why not post up that it's available, it's got camping etc available, and that you're looking for people? Because I know plenty of guys who'd jump at the chance to come visit. Added bonus: you get to curate who comes thanks to the EXTREMELY insular nature of caving/mine exploring

hkaustin2288 karma

I've thought about it, but have a few issues with it. When we first bought the town, I was approached by a very 'credible' mine exploration group. These guys were supposed to be as good as they come. The deal was they could explore the mine, but they had to get me photos of the water and the pump. Well, they showed up and they aren't pros at all. Complete amateurs and their recklessness could have gotten themselves killed. I don't want that type of liability. Also, they didn't get my water photos. Also, they spray-painted the town and left their stupid exploration cards in all the mines they went into. It (obviously) left a bad taste in my mouth. I know that isn't representative of all mine explorers, but I just don't want to risk it. Also, most are good, but some want to take stuff home. I don't do that. Anything here stays here. It goes in the museum. I've seen videos (before I owned it) of guys exploring the mines and taking stuff home. It drives me nuts.

turquoise_amethyst747 karma

The spraypainted the town? Wtf? How?

Also leaving their cards sounds dumb AF, anyone down there wouldn’t need their help to explore it?

hkaustin1210 karma

Not even useful cards! Just playing cards with their logo on it. As if to show "look we've already been here" - so dumb

turquoise_amethyst480 karma

Oh wow, this is even more disrespectful than leaving shitty business cards around. It’s like pre-planned littering.

hkaustin456 karma

That is a good way to describe it. It's pre-planned littering.

TakeTheWhip478 karma

I'm no caver, but next time I'm in the area I'd like to find every single one of those cards and burn them. That is such a dick move holy shit.

hkaustin488 karma

I take them and rip them up whenever I find them. So infuriating

araed547 karma

That sounds like you ran afoul of "goontubers", as they're unaffectionately nicknamed in the UK.

The easiest method to beat this is to get in touch with your state's cave rescue organisation, then ask them for volunteers to explore your mines. The reason I suggest the cave rescue group is because they're usually the best cavers, and have an exceptional wealth of knowledge about caving and all the risks associated.

If you were in the UK, I could signpost you to some people who would be exactly what you need, but unfortunately you're not!

hkaustin343 karma

haha, 'goontubers' - I hadn't heard that. But yeah, these guys were them.

420Prelude2536 karma

Will you sell/rent houses to people once everything is restored?

hkaustin3522 karma

Hopefully rent on short term basis, eventually. I think part of the beauty of the town is the space and stillness, so always want to be conscious of how many people are up here at any time.

But I think it would be really cool to let people stay in some of the original buildings. Like the house that the founder of the town build, etc. It's interacting with history in an interesting way.

imyourkid1925 karma

Congrats on owning a beautiful town! I virtually scouted Cerro Gordo as a potential location for an independent short film last year, a psychedelic Pakistani cowboy story. I never found the right place and the project stalled out, but revisiting images of the Cerro Gordo ghost town I’m again realizing it’s the perfect place. Would you consider having me film there? I can send you the treatment and reel.

Update: whoa this got a lot of love, I appreciate it so much!! Thanks especially to everyone who expressed an interest in working on the film. Once I get things going I’ll reach out to you folks. This is a passion project and I would love to work on it w people who respond to the concept. Much love to all

hkaustin1375 karma

Shoot me a message on Instagram!

LoudCakeEater1335 karma

I was devastated to see the old american hotel burn down, and ended up contributing to the gofundme. Are you still waiting for permits to continue the construction?

Love the channel btw. Say hi to the goats from me :)

hkaustin1576 karma

Oh, wow. Thank you so much. That means a ton.

I'm happy to say that on Sept 23rd, we got unanimous approval in a public hearing to rebuild and operate the hotel. So we have permits in hand and are working everyday to get this thing back by next summer. Winter is coming quick however...

timpdx721 karma

If you own the town, I assume “unanimous approval” means you just said yes to yourself and Approved!

hkaustin1038 karma

haha, well, this had to go to the county level because of the permits involved, so the county commissioners and such.

Although I can see how that would seem ridiculous if it was just me...

theghostofme620 karma

You just standing in front of a mirror:

“All in favor, say ‘aye.’”


“All opposed, say ‘nay.’”


“And since this is a ceremonial vote, and only my word matters, the measure passes!”

hkaustin451 karma


Vicksdog111323 karma

Do you have water, electric and sewer? If so will the current systems support what you’re looking to do?

hkaustin3627 karma

I have electric. I don't have water or sewer. I use outhouses.

Water has been the missing puzzle piece here for nearly a century. The town used to use springs that were supported by Owens Lake. Owens Lake was drained as part of the LA Aqueduct program and that led to the springs drying up, and Cerro Gordo drying up. That's a big reason nobody wanted it really.

People have been trying different approaches for years to get water back - trucking up water, collecting, etc.

There is water that collects at the 700 level of the main mine shaft (so 700 ft below the surface). They once pumped water out of there to bring into town. That pump went out about 15-20 years ago. Nobody replaced it because of the danger involved in replacing it. To get down to the 700 level you have to use the original hoist and cage from 1865.

Over the past few months, I put together a crew, and we went down and replaced the pump. After that, we had to run 500 ft of new piping back up.

BUT, I can say for the first time in a few decades, Cerro Gordo (kinda) has water. The system isn't perfect right now, so I won't count it as total win yet.

bunnyloafers1449 karma

The LA Aqueduct is really interesting to read / learn about, definitely worth checking it out for anyone not familiar.

If you've ever wondered how Los Angeles supports millions of people.... it can't. Los Angeles is only sustainable because of a giant aqueduct that starts in the Sierra Nevadas some 400 miles away. It's been a fight for just about every community in between that used to rely on those lakes, creeks and rivers.

hkaustin1115 karma

Definitely. There is a book "Water Seekers" that I found up here that is interesting on it.

Also the movie Chinatown of course...

StickQuick104 karma

Cadillac Desert is also a good one to read on the subject.

hkaustin96 karma

Yes! That is the one I was thinking about but couldn't remember. Thank you

torndownunit279 karma

I just started watching your YouTube videos a few weeks ago, and the first one I watched was about replacing the pump (it came up in my recommendations). This AMA is cool because I am familiar with everything you are talking about from the videos.

hkaustin237 karma

Thanks for watching them! I plan to make longer video of water process. It was very difficult and interesting (I think)...

naterocs108 karma

Interestingly enough, and I don’t know how much I should actually write about this, but I was just promoted at my work to a position that directly oversees the rehabilitation of Owens Lake which is now effectively a dust bowl. The City of LA has a very poor relationship with Mono and Inyo County but I’m hoping to right the ship in this new position. Hope water one day becomes a non issue for you!

hkaustin85 karma

whoa! That hits very close to home. What is the plan for Owens Lake?

Can you like put even 6 inches of water back across the lake? I feel that would not only look awesome but control the dust. Obviously I know nothing about how this actually works...

scotchybob40 karma

Do you have any concerns over the water being contaminated? Do you have any process in place for testing it to ensure that it is safe for drinking, bathing etc? Just asking out of sheer curiosity. I am totally intrigued by your entire story and admire that you've taken this project on. I'm a huge fan of California's mining history and ghost towns so this is right up my alley.

hkaustin57 karma

We're testing it. I'm definitely not trusting it yet. It's off to a lab now being tested. I just use it to flush toilets and wash stuff for now...

MrNonam335 karma

What about digging wells near the springs? The LA Aqueduc Program probably lowered the water table (level at which the ground is saturated in water) but I think it still may be kinda high.

hkaustin92 karma

The town is at 8,500 ft in elevation on hard rock. I've been told too far to drill...

PhirstName1142 karma

I have been following you on YouTube. Super interested. I feel sure that at some point you will find a section of tunnel that is appearing to be flat, maybe some ceiling debris on the ground. Only to find out it's a lose covering of debris and truly you are over a vertical shaft hidden by that debris. Maybe supported by some old beams. Are there any precautions you take for this to hopefully not be a surprise you find? Are there pretty reliable descriptions or maps of the layouts of the mines?

hkaustin1587 karma

There are maps of the mines. Not ALL the mines I check out, but some of them.

I explore the mines a lot. Probably too much. Like every day I probably am inside an old mine for 2-4 hours.

Doing that for 6 months has given me a better understanding of the mines, what to look for, what to look out for, etc.

I also bring a decent amount of safety equipment with me now (which I stupidly didn't at first).

berrywhite734 karma

Good to hear you're taking more precautions now. I watched your first couple of videos and thought

"This dude's gonna get himself killed in the mines and nobody will know where to look."

hkaustin721 karma

I think the same thing when I look back.

vagabonddiesel683 karma

How do you arrange EMS services, like hospitals, fire trucks, police, etc? Are you covered by the county services? When the road washed out, were you responsible for the repairs, or did the local government help out?

hkaustin1213 karma

The final 7 miles to get to the town is up a steep dirt road. It goes from about 2,500 ft in elevation to 8,500 ft in elevation in that 7 miles.

That road is technically a 'utility road' because the FAA uses it to get to a watchtower on a neighboring road.

So technically the county maintains is. However, the timeline on that maintenance is never guaranteed....

mshirley1142 karma

Good purchase! I’ve ridden my dirt bike down that road several years ago. Gnarly switchbacks with a great view!

I will check out your YouTube and follow along.

Enjoy your new town - !

hkaustin118 karma

Thank you! Did you ever do the Swansea Salt Tram road? Now THAT is a gnarly road that starts here in town

mshirley170 karma

Thats the one. Kinda sketchy on a KTM 950. 😬😬

hkaustin112 karma

A dude in a camper truck rolled off the road like a month ago. Definitely sketchy.

dude_stfu544 karma

Have you tried pitching this to any producers/networks? Someone living in and reviving an abandoned ghost town is right up the Nat Geo / Discovery / HGTV alley. I'd watch it.

hkaustin623 karma

Some production companies have approached. It always seems to go sideways because I guess that's how that industry works?

Veefy489 karma

I’m a mining engineer from Australia. Any plans to produce a computer 3D model of the underground workings under the town? We aren’t that far away in the industry from being able to use mini drones to automatically map underground ( think that scene in Prometheus for reference minus the stupidity). Also people are starting to use 3D printing for underground 3D plans.

You might get some interest from the University in the US that teach mining engineering to collaborate on those kinds projects if you reach out to them.

hkaustin356 karma

That's a good idea! I'd like to create physical diagram too to show people

RickshawRickshaw90 karma

I just read an article about using drones (specifically, the Elios by Flyability) for exploration/mapping of confined and/or potentially dangerous spaces! They look like they're pretty darn expensive, but it's really interesting technology, especially in application to something like these mines!

hkaustin65 karma

Very, very interesting. Thanks for the tip. I'll look into that.

menow555481 karma

How do you get wifi there?

hkaustin797 karma

I use an ATT hotspot. It isn't perfect, but works just fine for reddit.

ATT has a tower on a surrounding mountaintop...

PhilosophicalScandal456 karma

Have you had any paranormal experiences? If so can you detail them?

hkaustin1546 karma

I'll preface my answer with this - before buying the town I was firm nonbeliever. It wasn't something I believed in or thought about, so that element of the town wasn't interesting to me.

Since being here, there have been a number of experiences that have moved me along the scale closer to thinking skeptical, but not impossible.

One of my earlier days here I was walking by a building called the 'bunkhouse' from 1900. You have to walk by it to get to this nice sunset spot. As I was walking by, I noticed that the light in the kitchen was on and someone opened the kitchen blinds, looked out, and closed them.

It didn't immediately freak me out because there had been some people working on the property and I had just got there the day before. I thought maybe they were staying in that building.

So I went about my night and in the morning asked the caretaker, who was here at the time, how long the contractors were staying in the bunkhouse.

He kinda slowly turned to me and said they had left weeks ago.

That made my stomach drop a bit, but I'm a rational person, so I went over there to check for drafts or anythign weird. I went in the bunkhouse, turned off the light, and put a padlock on the door (one that only I had the key to).

That night, when I went back to the sunset spot, the light was back on in the bunkhouse. Not just on, but the switch was flipped back up. Nobody has the key and there was no way to enter, so that combined with the 'face' I saw the day before freaked me out a bit.

Also just random stuff moving around with out me moving them...

KrustyBoomer412 karma

Is the town "cleared"? Could be some drifter or kids poking around,

hkaustin481 karma

No other people. The final 7 miles to get here is up steep dirt road that only leads here. There were no other cars in town. So I'd notice if someone else was hanging around...

Max-_-Power411 karma

Why do your friends not live in Cerro Gordo? Those with whom you bought the town.

hkaustin595 karma

They all have lives and obligations elsewhere

Mutapi397 karma

What happened to the old caretaker? I can’t recall the elderly gentleman’s name, but he was certainly a character.

hkaustin596 karma

Robert! He went home early in the pandemic to be with his wife. So I've been filling in for 7 months or so...

Axios_382 karma

I had no idea this place existed. Time to binge watch all your videos, the two I've seen are absolutely fantastic.

Other than monetary donations, is there any other way to help out? Cerro Gordo is 4 hours away and I'd love to help you and just see the place in person. I can bring lots of water and non perishables and take as much trash as I can before I leave. Plus I don't believe in ghosts, so it'd be cool to have a paranormal experience.

This entire thing fascinates me! Thank you so much for sharing.

hkaustin306 karma

Yeah! We always could use water, nonperishables, and an extra set of hands sometimes. Shoot me a message on here on on Instagram?

sublime_cheese374 karma

That sounds like an excellent adventure. What’s the coolest thing that you’ve found since you moved in?

hkaustin1601 karma

A few things! I was cleaning up the original general store (which opened around 1891) and in the way back, under tons of old furniture, I found this old briefcase. It was wrapped in a blanket and shoved under one of the original counters in the store.

It was FULL of documents surrounding the lives of 3 different miners. Their highs (love letters, mining claims, selling silver) and their lows (divorce settlements, lawsuits over unpaid bills, and letters to friends). I really liked that glimpse into life back then. There was even a map outlining SOMETHING on the property that one had recieved. I've been working for a few months to figure out exactly where the map leads and why. It's like a treasure hunt.

Also almost everyday I explore the abandoned mines. There are over 30 miles of mines under the town. I find all sorts of things from the past, and I really like it. I keep them all in this small 'museum' I'm making. Dynamite boxes, old clothing, pocketwatches, etc.

What I really want to find is Levi Jeans. Levi's made the first blue jean for California silver miners in 1873. They are THE thing to find for denim collectors and Levi corporate can buy them back for close to $100k because they're so rare.

They've found original Levi's here before in the mines and in the buildings. So I know they're here. I just have to find them.

It's become a personal quest.

tinkikiwi154 karma

Wild. Is there concern about the air quality in the mine? Do you have an air sensor?

hkaustin268 karma

I bring a 4 gas monitor with me into the mines

sublime_cheese77 karma

Thanks for the great reply! So much history for you to discover. Hope the treasure hunt brings some more interesting things to light. An old pair of Levi’s would be great.

Are you sharing photos or keeping that low-key?

hkaustin113 karma

I have some photos of what I find on my Instagram. I'll post more tomorrow. I actually found some cool stuff in a mine earlier today: https://www.instagram.com/brentwunderwood/

ktoanyone77 karma

I was wondering if you’ve found anything related to Chinese migrants working in the mines? The Museum of Asian Americans in NYC has (or had, last time I visited) a cool exhibition about migrant workers in California, they could be interested in pictures!

hkaustin178 karma

Recently I found two old Chinese coins that apparently are from 300 years ago. They were in a part of the town that the Chinese miners lived in stone shacks. You can see photos of them in here

day0264 karma

What are your plans for the town? Do you see this as largely functioning as a residential tenement or more of a revenue-focused tourist attraction?

hkaustin397 karma

I'd like for more people to experience the town's history and natural beauty. So practically, that means, I hope some people can stay overnight (in hotel or an original building) or they can come a take a tour of the property during the day. But with all that, maintain the history that makes this town what it is.

tritoch8217 karma

Does all work and no play make Brent a dull boy?

hkaustin247 karma


Damn, doesn't quite hit the same haha

JackXDark184 karma

Can I visit when the plague is over?

hkaustin157 karma


Snicklefritz25173 karma

I remember your other post! So cool. Have you done research as to what it looked like before and trying to replicate or are you recreating it as you like? Will you open it to visitors once done? Thanks for sharing your experience!

hkaustin169 karma

I am trying to put back some buildings where they once were! I have some photos of the old layout and an idea of what each building was. Slowly we'll get there...

GrafSchnecke143 karma

What motivates you to go through this?

hkaustin447 karma

A weird sense of obligation. Maybe it's being by myself or here at the property too long, but I feel a heavy sense of obligation to make sure this town is restored for generations to come. I think it's an important town, with an important history, and somehow adopted it as my duty. Things are easier to work on when you think they're important. And I think this town is important.

cbartholomew86 karma

If I didn’t have like a family and a life I would totally just come run the saloon - I would just polish bottles for 8 hours a day and say “howdy stranger” every time you show up, lol

hkaustin56 karma

And it would be a good time for sure.

Cypher0011120 karma


hkaustin234 karma

To make sure the town is standing long after I'm gone. And that more people get to know about it's history, it's impact on California's history.

WiBadgers84106 karma

Have you poked around with a metal detector around the old buildings?

hkaustin192 karma

I used a metal detector and found some old Chinese coins in an old stone cabin a month or so ago. Some photos here

bikinikills97 karma

What kind of stuff fills your days there?

And what have you got in the ways of supplies/ways to get supplies - I seem to remember you saying you were sick of beans pretty early on.

hkaustin324 karma

I wake up, feed the animals (goats and kittens). Make breakfast. Check/send emails for an hour or two. Go work on the property for a while (currently I'm clearing a site that I hope to build a new cabin on). Then I come back for lunch/more emails. In the late afternoon I leave the phone behind and go hiking to find an abandoned mine or some other cool thing out there. Treasure hunting. Then I come back, make dinner. Maybe look at the stars for a while. Go to bed.

In terms of supplies, I go to 'town' every 2 weeks or so to load up. After being here 6 months, I've gotten better at planning long stretches with no grocery runs...

Tex-Rob91 karma

Hey, I don't really "follow" anyone, but I've seen you in passing a few times (via the internet), and love what you're doing. I think the most recent thing I saw was your video making a "sitting room" in one of the mines.

Do you ever sleep in the mines? It seems like it would be eerily quiet, for some reason I want to do it.

hkaustin238 karma

Weirdly enough, I actually spent the night in a mine about a week ago. From 6pm - 8am. I used the old hoist cage to go to a lower level of the mine and had them bring up the cage so there was no way for me to chicken out.

I'm not afraid of a lot, but that was spooky. Really weird experience...

VadersLunchBox88 karma

What does it mean to "buy a town"? Do you own the land and the buildings? Are you responsible for suppling water, electricity and other services etc? If someone were to move in and set up a business do they pay you tax?

hkaustin182 karma

I own the land, buildings, mineral rights under the town, etc. It's approximately 380 acres total, surrounding by BLM land. So no real neighbors for a very long ways!

Trooper574585 karma

I found your YouTube a few weeks ago. I’ve certainly enjoyed watching the adventure so far.

How exactly did you find the town? Was it something you found by a simple google search or was it through word of mouth?

hkaustin183 karma

I owned a backpacker hostel in Austin, TX for a while. It was in a historic building, so I liked history/hospitality combo.

My friend knew I was looking for a 'bigger' project, and saw the town listed on a local real estate blog.

The rest, as the say, is history.

GerFinSwe80 karma

Binge watched all your video a few days ago and I have to say that I love the story of the town and how you show it on the channel. I am thrilled to see how the town will look soon and about your future adventures.

My question is, how are the kittens and the goats doing?keep up the good work, love from europe.

hkaustin87 karma

Wow! Thank you for checking out the videos! That's cool

Kittens and goats are good! Just fed both of them. The kittens grow so fast. They eat soft cat food now, so not as difficult as bottle feeding...

Tidalsky11467 karma

Ever have the thought that you died in that town in a past life and that's what's drawn you to it?

hkaustin127 karma

Weird you say that. I never have until really recently. I've never felt a 'calling' before, but definitely feel one here. A responsibility to a task. And feel at peace when working on it and anxious when not here...

mynamewastaken-_-66 karma

How do you deal with tresspassers? Do you let urban explorers in?

hkaustin166 karma

Right now it's weird because of the pandemic. Of course I want people to experience the town, but it's also my home. So when someone comes up unannounced, it's a bit weird. Like imagine if I walked into your home with no announcement.

My email address is very public. If people arrange ahead of time, I have no issue.

trench4775 karma

I drove the old Swansea Cero Gordo Rd at the beginning of May. I planed to stop in and say hi, but the large 'Private Property' sign definitely kept me out. I recently saw one of your videos published arounf that thime where you stop and say "We have a visitor" and then "Oh well" as I motor by.

hkaustin66 karma

Dang! The Salt Tram road? How was that? Feel free to stop and say hi. I'm always here...

doe-knot58 karma

Did you own Cerro Gordo when Ghost Adventures filmed there? What was that experience like?

hkaustin123 karma

I did!

They were fine. It was a big production. I didn't get to participate in any real way, but they respected the town and rules outlined

ObiWan-Shinoobi49 karma

Who picks up your garbage?

hkaustin93 karma

Me, mainly. I bring it to a transfer station in a neighboring town when it piles up enough

sevendwarforgy46 karma

How has living alone for that long changed you? What's something you wish you knew when you first started?

hkaustin166 karma

I think I'm less rushed and more focused on things that matter to me. When I was living in a city, I'd always make up these tasks that I HAD to do. Run to the grocery story to get this item for dinner, go over to the Wal-Mart to get that. I think filling days like that is a way to avoid thinking about things you don't want to think about or avoid doing certain things you know you should.

Here I don't have those options, so I have to sit with those thoughts for longer. It helps clarify things...

seabass450741 karma

I’ve made the drive up and down 395 at least 100 times over the past 30 years, so I’m somewhat familiar with the area. I’ve seen the sign to Cerro Gordo, but never even thought to take that detour. It would be cool to have somewhere interesting to stop.

Do you see fighter jets flying around a lot? I used to see them a lot over Owens Lake, but it’s been a few years.

hkaustin173 karma

A decent number of jets. Sometimes they even give me a show.

One day I was standing on our main porch here looking over the valley and down our road. Suddenly this jet comes zooming up the road. Only 20 ft above the road maybe. I saw him before I heard him and all I could think to do was wave, so he barrel-rolled over the town, then hit the burners and broke the sound-barrier once in Death Valley.

I know they're not supposed to do that, but it was pretty cool...

BirdsDogsCats36 karma

Hi, I asked a question on the last AMA and didn't get the answer I wanted, so I'll ask again.

Have you reinstated the weekly murders?

hkaustin69 karma

Only of mice.

Carried out by my 7 cat coconspirators.

hkaustin30 karma

sj3l9q1mnb05s53c2g8x23 karma

I watched that one video of you going down into the mine where all those people died and the exit was caving in a bit, my butthole was awful clenched. Have you/will you ever go back?

hkaustin46 karma

I just did that two weeks ago. No, I don't think I'll go back to that level of the mine. It's too dangerous and I went to every corner of it. I didn't find the exit I was looking for, so will search for exists in different places. So as long as I own the town, the 200 level will remain closed.

TamaleTime8420 karma

I congratulate and wish you the best of luck and success in your journey. I have a few questions for you.

1.) What made you decide to buy Cerro Gordo? I understand it was once a silver mining town, and out of all the ghost towns their are in CA, why did Cerro Gordo stick out?

2.) You mentioned the town had a lot of murders and other misfortunes back in it's day. While those types of places might have been fun to visit, they aren't as much fun to live in. How do you plan on convincing people to move and start businesses at Cerro Gordo?

3.) What are some of your best accomplishments so far, and what do you think you'll struggle with the most?

hkaustin25 karma


  1. The history. There are other plots of land with old buildings on them, but none (in my opinion) have what Cerro Gordo has. I love history and particularly American Western history, and Cerro Gordo is about as real-deal Western town as you can find.

  2. I don't envision people moving here fulltime. More like visits with overnight accommodation.

  3. I think finding and retrieving water was huge. Water has been the missing piece at Cerro Gordo for a long time, and it was very difficult/dangerous to get, but we went down and got it. It will bring a lot of benefits to the town

Twat_The_Douche16 karma

You and your friends bought a town. So I've got 2 questions:

1) roughly how much did it cost?
2) who is the mayor?

hkaustin36 karma

I'd like to think I'm the Mayor, but there has never been an official ballot...

Quack__Up3 karma

Is there a big story to this town or is it boring and unexciting?

hkaustin6 karma

The town has a very rich history. Biggest producer of silver in California, more gunfights that could be recorded, 'ghosts', hidden treasure, everything.

I never get bored here...

MySpaceLegend2 karma

Have you started building the New American Hotel?

hkaustin4 karma

Indeed! We just got final permits on the 23rd to officially build and operate it, so it's full speed ahead

oldskoolpleb2 karma

Just wanting to let you know that for the past 2 weeks I have been watching your video's since I've been home sick with covid (positive test and some pretty nasty symptoms) and your amazingly high production quality video's really inspired me to do some soul searching as to what kind of things I want to be doing with my life in a couple of years. And for that I can't thank you enough!

God bless you and your future endeavours (also please be careful on your own exploring).

As for question: how severely haunted is the town, specifically that one shack, actually and have there been more weird things going on?

hkaustin3 karma

Oh wow. Thank you! I appreciate that.

Weird things happen occasionally. I think if you're in a town expecting to hear nothing and see nothing, if you see anything or hear anything it is really weird.

HeavenLeahh1 karma

I follow you on tiktok! One question that bugs me sorry if you've already answered is what can you do about all that unstable dynamite, is there not a way to get a bomb disposal or similar?

hkaustin2 karma

I just leave it there. Not worth the hassle to try to remove and I'm the only one going in most these mines, so I keep a metal record of where it is...

Icanhazacat1 karma

Just subbed. How are the kittens doing?

hkaustin1 karma

Thanks for checking them out!

Kittens are good - growing fast. They eat wet cat food now. A lot easier than bottle feeding...

Chaosritter1 karma

How's the local McDonalds?

hkaustin2 karma

haha, far away! There is one in the town of Lone Pine. But that's about an hour away if you factor in the dirt road

PatrickS0206871 karma

What’s a normal day like for you?

hkaustin5 karma

I wake up, feed the animals (goats and kittens). Make breakfast. Check/send emails for an hour or two. Go work on the property for a while (currently I'm clearing a site that I hope to build a new cabin on). Then I come back for lunch/more emails. In the late afternoon I leave the phone behind and go hiking to find an abandoned mine or some other cool thing out there. Treasure hunting. Then I come back, make dinner. Maybe look at the stars for a while. Go to bed.

IAmAModBot-2 karma