I get hits on a blog called “Towns Named Aberdeen” almost every day and don’t know why. Perhaps it’s simply because people are fascinated by how places get named.
Joseph Good was a miner who also ran some cattle in a valley near the Spring Mountains, which were apparently named for a spring used by travelers heading to California from New Mexico in the 19th century. A mining town sprang up in that valley. It was named Goods Springs and once had a population of around 3,000. In 1899 the post office renamed it Goodsprings. Today it’s largely a ghost town haunted by cable TV shows that explore the spirit world. Goodsprings has one thriving original business, the Pioneer Saloon, and a few ghosts. One of them is said to be the spirit of a famous Hollywood actress who died tragically on Mount Potosi.
Christian tends bar in The Pioneer, the remaining historic business. At one time it was one of 7 “watering holes” in Goodsprings. Christian’s from Brooklyn, New York. Shortly after he started working in Goodsprings, he decided to tour it. He told me that it took him 3 minutes on his bike to accomplish this. There are only about 200 people living there now, and several of the buildings are near collapse, but it’s a fun place to visit because of that sole original business and all of the stories you hear in it.
George Fayle built The Pioneer after he bought some prefabricated kits. Its walls and ceilings are pressed tin, and the building is holding up pretty well. George also built a hotel and general store before dying in the 1918 flu epidemic. Today the Pioneer Saloon is actually 2 bars, a cafe, a place for live music, a museum, etc. A lot of patrons arrive on Harleys and other bikes and look like repeat customers. Christian told me that on a nice day as many as 1,400 people show up to drink and chat in the Pioneer. Its tin walls sport some bullet holes, and two of its dining tables are over 100 years old. According to local lore, a hard-drinking miner named Paul Coski was caught cheating at cards in 1915, and not all of the bullets fired entered his body. Some went through the tin walls. Paul is one of the frequently seen ghosts.
The actress was on TWA Flight 3, which was on its way to Burbank from Las Vegas when it crashed on Mount Potosi. A list of the 22 passengers who died, including the actress’ mother, is on a wall in The Pioneer. The actress, who was on a mission to sell war bonds was the highest paid star in the movie business in the late 1930s. Her name was Carole Lombard. She was married to Clark Gable, recent star of Gone With the Wind at the time of his wife’s demise. He drank in The Pioneer while awaiting word of her fate, and it is said that he never got over her death.
Goodsprings is one of those places where, like Christian, I plan to spend about 3 minutes exploring. Several hours later I leave with great memories.