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Lance Cpl. Aaron Kristopik, a paralegal clerk with the Combat Center’s Staff Judge Advocate, and a native of New Britain, Conn., walks through the ghost town known as Old Dale, Calif.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Aaron’s exploits; more rubble than ghosts

17 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

This week Lance Cpl. Aaron Kristopik, a paralegal clerk with the Combat Center’s Staff Judge Advocate, and a native of New Britain, Conn., took a break from his recent long journeys to make a short pilgrimage to a more local spot, Old Dale, a ghost town within an hour from the Combat Center.

Kristopik said he’s always been infatuated with the Old West, especially the Gold Rush era.

“The Gold Rush is one of those things that really show you what American’s have always thought about,” he said. “Living the American dream is what brought people here. Places like this are what make this country great. Just people trying to get a better life.”

Kristopik said he also wanted to travel to the ghost town to satisfy his urge to experience the paranormal.

“Ghost town, ghosts, abandoned places in the desert–sounds like a place that’s going to be haunted,” he said before the trip. “I want to find out if this is a ghost town, or if everyone really just packed up and split.”

The long trip brought Kristopik to the edge of Riverside, Calif., realizing he was lost, he pulled over onto the side of the road and got his bearing back.

Disappointment settled in after Kristopik realized he was lost, and ended up, oddly enough on another two-hour drive just to find the town.

“I know I said it, everything is at least two hours,” he said. “It’s supposed to be less than an hour away, but I’ll admit, I got really lost.”

When Kristopik finally arrived at the site, he found much less than he expected.

“There was more trash than artifacts,” he said. “I expected ghosts, maybe even some gold–panning stuff or some pick axes.”

The two rotting, crumbling structures of the town were the only thing other than shot up metal, shotgun shells and trash lying around.

“From what I read about this place, compared to what it is, it was kind of a bust coming here,” he said. “I wouldn’t really recommend people coming here. I wondered why I never heard about anyone visiting this ‘tourist attraction,’ now I know why. There were more beer cans here than bricks.”

Kristopik said the history of the town, and its location is why it may have been forgotten so easily.

“We all know it’s a pretty isolated community out here,” he said. “The Gold Rush was short, so this spot was short lived too.”

Feeling dismayed and bewildered, he took what he could from his expedition.

“I’m not going to call it quits on the local area,” he said. “This just goes to show that some things don’t get a lot of recognition for a reason.”

With Kristopik’s journey through the desert finished, he said he plans to get away from civilization for his next weekend and live off the land.

“It’s so easy a caveman can do it,” he said. “Pioneers did it, people long before me have lived off the land and I’m going to get back to my roots.”


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms