Those of us over 50 fondly (or maybe not so fondly) remember encyclopedias. Before you could find anything you wanted to online, encyclopedias provided a wealth of information contained in a set of voluminous books that required considerable shelf space lined up in order from A to Z.
Every school library had at least one set of encyclopedias, and door-to-door salesman were great at convincing (shaming) parents that every home should have a set if they wanted their children to be successful in life. My dad had a set that he so cherished that he built a bookcase to house them, which I have since inherited.
I often wonder what I should do with them as I never look at them, and even if I did the information is terribly outdated and not applicable to anything I would need. I would feel guilty if I threw them out, and I am sure a thrift store would pitch them if I placed (snuck) them into their donation bin.
Well, on a recent trip through California’s Panamint Valley, I discovered how somebody else solved their encyclopedia dilemma.
In the mining ghost town of Reilly there are many scattered remains of homes built primarily of native stone, which provided readily available building materials for the residents. One exception is a dugout which was hewn out of the sidewall of a gully.
Seeing the door to this home open, I thought I would take a look inside.
Peering around the door into the living room, I was surprised to see not one, but at least three complete sets of encyclopedias in the abandoned home! Two of the sets were in a bookcase.
While I don’t advocate abandoning personal property on public land, I can fully understand the thinking behind why this person did so: there was no guilt of sending them to the dump.
Given the aridness and heat of their storage location, the encyclopedias are likely to survive hundreds or even thousands of years.
And who knows, when the digital age that we are currently in collapses, these encyclopedias might become highly coveted documents like the Dead Sea scrolls when rediscovered in the future!
Of course the other possibility of why the encyclopedias are in the home is that the door-to-door encyclopedia Britannica salesperson was highly successful with the last resident!
The Panamint Valley is remote with limited communications and services. It can also be very hot in the summer. Carry extra drinking water and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
You will find “downtown” Reilly at N36° 00.403 W117° 22.191
The encyclopedia repository is located on the north side of the wash that divides the town.
These are your nearest camping options:
- Boondocking: The pictured site is located at N36° 00.601 W117° 20.120 which is just down the hill from Reilly.
- Campground: The closest campground is across the valley at the old town of Ballarat. Click here for more information.
- RV Park: The closest RV park with hookups is at Panamint Springs.
Contemplating what constitutes trash or future treasure, just another adventure in RVing!