View Full Version : Josie Pearl's place (Nevada)

Tom Green
02-16-2009, 08:16 PM
Has anyone been to Josie Pearls place in recent times? I read about her in an old (1955) Desert Magazine article and she lived in a canyon off Leonard Creek Road north of Winnemucca and West of Orvada. She lived there well into her late 70's and was a hard rock miner. She lived alone out there in a cabin for years. I was interested in checking the site out, however I wanted to check and see if anyone had been there and what I could learn from them.



02-17-2009, 06:05 AM
Never heard of Josie Pearl, but my son and I tried to get in to see the old Black Rock Desert ghost town of Varyville last summer. No go, all of it was posted no trespassing. We asked a local rancher for permission to visit it but he denied it.

Varyville is west of Leonard Creek Ranch and slightly south of it off the Bartlett Creek.

Further south in the BRD itself, there is a lot of National Conservation Areas that are closed to vehicles, so know where you going and don't cross the closed off road areas.

Answer Pt II: While were there last summer, there was a very old lady that mined some jewelry mineral (can't recall the name right now). She was camped out on the other side of the Black Rock Range from the Leonard Creek Ranch area about halfway between Gerlach and the Soldier Meadow's Ranch. She rents a camp site from the owner of Soldier Meadows Ranch. She was a hard rock miner 'cause she told us and had been doing it for years. She's up there in the spring and summer only though, lives in Reno (IRC) the rest of the time. We bought a nice bracelet for my wife from her.

Get the e-mail address from the Soldier Meadows Ranch site and e-mail the owner (or PM for it) and ask who the lady is and when she'll come back. He'll also know her name and perhaps her Reno contact info.

Good luck.


Tom Green
02-17-2009, 06:43 PM
Thanks for the info, Josie died years ago.....

02-18-2009, 10:15 AM

Forgot to ask: Where off Leonard Creek Road did she live or work? There's a bunch of mining in the BR Range, especially on the east side near LCR.

God, I miss the desert...... :(

05-25-2009, 04:34 PM

I too read the Desert Magazine article as well as Ernie Pyle's account from the 1930's AND the biography of Josie by Anna Schulmerich. Fascinating woman.

As I have been to the Black Rock Desert and it's surroundings a few times, I was planning on taking a trip there this spring to see if anything was left of Josie's homestead, but was unable to make it.

I had looked at a number of local maps and the location of her house is noted as PEARL CAMP on, imagine that, Pearl Camp Road, near Josie Pearl Spring northwest of Winnemucca.

Approximate Location:
LAT 41 31 44.58 N
LON 118 49 45.73 W

Just this last week a friend mentioned that she was going to be driving past there on a family vacation which included visiting some ghost towns and I gave her my maps and she and family went to check it out....and it's still there.


Josie's homestead

Front Door:

Josie's Ore Samples


I am really excited to visit now and am working on figuring out the next time I can get out that way.

For those who are interested in Josie's story, see below:

The Desert Magazine article is posted here:


1963 Biography of Josie:


-Chef Juke
"EVERYbody eats when they come to MY House!"

05-26-2009, 04:44 AM
My son and I went right by that place last summer. We first came in from the west trying to get to Varyville from Soldier's Meadows Ranch. We encountered the gate and no trespassing signs right around 41.499928 -118.837201, about a mile or so from Varyville and right at 2 miles directly south of Pearl's place.

We then went out to the north and east towards Leonard Creek Ranch to ask permission a rancher for permission to access Varyville. Our route out took us right past Pearl's old place.

I don't recall seeing it as we went out or maybe we saw it but didn't know it was abandoned - don't know.

Dang, now I really miss the desert.


05-26-2009, 06:30 AM
Just an FYI:

Someone was kind enough to point out that the pic that I described as "Josie's Ore Samples" (that was the caption my friend sent with the pic) are actually from an oil drilling rig, not hand dug samples. May have been drilled for her by someone else or for some other reason than mining samples.

Chef Juke

09-27-2009, 02:17 PM
Chefjuke, Wow, thanks so much for sharing the pics. Do you have more? Please post.

I had figured out where it was via sat images, but so good to have pics of place. Looks much like I expected.

Those are core drills, used for hard rock prospecting to this day. That is fairly large machine, wonder if she had her own.

It is somewhat of a mystery why she spent so much time up there, she did better elsewhere it would seem.

I was planning to go up to Virgen Valley opal mines from Reno net week, and wanted to see the Pearl homestead and Varyville. If Varyville is off limits any other ghostowns or ruins nearby you can suggest?


09-27-2009, 02:55 PM

While I've been planning a trip to this area of black rock for about a year, I haven't gone myself but told a friend about Josie and the area and she and her family visited (and took the pics) on a trip to Winnemucca this spring.

Most of my info on the area comes from internet searches...don't have much personal experience yet, but if you check with me by this time next year, I might.


09-28-2009, 10:47 PM
Thanks. Will post what I find.


03-15-2010, 10:15 PM
Tom, I am a long time admirer of Josie Peal. I read Schulmerich's book in 2004 when I was preparing to migrate to Winnemucca NV. I finally had the oportunity to visit Pearl Camp two months ago. I have pictures if you are intersested but they are much like the earlier pics you have seen in a earlier thread. These are pictures of the current state of Pearl camp. I am in contact with a friend of Josie's. I showed her pictures from my recent visit to the camp. She said that Josie's original house is long time gone and the other structers were not built by Josie. We are not sure who owns these current buildings, or property but I am intersted in that information. FYI: The friend who gave me this info also gave me a picture of Josie standing in the front of her cabin. It is AWESOME. I love you

04-24-2010, 02:01 PM
Thanks for posting those pictures of Josies camp. They really brought me back! I lived there for a summer in 1967 when my father and uncle were working the Roberts Copper Mine. Old man Roberts from Caldwell Idaho I believe owned the camp at the time and using the camp was part of the deal of purchasing the mine. My mother cleaned it up and we used her home as our kitchen but we mostly lived in trailers that were brought up to have some creature comforts. We used the showers and I slept in the bunk beds in the back when company or certain workers were there. I would not sleep in there alone.
We would sit outside on the porch after dinner and feel the cool breeze as the sun went down and the poplars would catch the wind. It was a bit of an oasis for travelers. They would stop by occasionally when they would end up on the roak from Leonard Creek. There was a dump site just below the camp that antique collectors would rummage through looking for treasures from previous times and mining camps. My uncle said that he expected that my mom was the first lady to cook in Josies house since she passed. It was a nice little cabin and a bit unexpected where it was located. When you were there you felt like you had your own little world even though Monteros ranch was not too far away. BLM men would come by occasionally and check the salt licks and springs. Cattle ranchers would also come through on the way to check on where the cattle had wandered off to.
I did not see any pictures of the modern structures that were built at the site. Across from the garage were some concrete vats used to precipitate copper out of a leached solution. There was a water hole dug behind Josies house which was filled by the spring about an eigth of a mile above the camp. I used to swim in it but it was to cold to stay in very long. The sun did not hit there long enough to warm up the water.
I had a love hate relationship with the place as I was a city kid and did not like being away from friends whenever I had to go out there. But once I was there I really enjoyed it especially if I knew I could go into town once in a while. We had two dogs and I had a pet porcupine there as well. There were mountain lions and rattlesnakes to deal with which made it a bit of an adventure. I loved to shoot a 22 rifle out at rocks and tin cans and targets. My brother in law came there and hunted one year and shot an antelope. It was hung to cure in a tunnel or cellar that was dug in the back of Josie's house. Not long after a mountain lion came and got into the cellar to get the meat. The dogs scared it away and my uncle shot into the air and it ran away. It was a bit nervous around there for a while. Rattlesnakes and bull snakes would set off the dogs and so you had to always watch where you walked and went around the camp.
Josie was a legendary figure and many saw her as minings version of Annie Oakley. She was supposed to be very tough and lived at the camp until she died. My uncle and my father and mother had known her from many years before we lived at the camp. My father always dreamed of buying the place and makeing it into a dude resort of sorts and as a tribute to Josie. Keep the legend alive sort of thing. I have not been there for over 40 years and need to go back there before it is too late and take some pictures and possibly show my kids the place that I spent in the country as a young boy. I will want to see the desert sky at night especially when there is a meteor shower. It is a spectacular thing I will always remember from my time there. I don't think I ever saw more stars in any other sky that I have seen since. The solitude there is a feeling that I can feel to this day. It really is a rugged beautiful place in that region around Josie Pearls camp.

04-24-2010, 02:04 PM
I would love to have a copy of the picture of Josie in front of her cabin if you are able and willing to post it.

09-05-2010, 09:43 AM
I would love to have a copy of the picture of Josie in front of her cabin if you are able and willing to post it.

So would I!

08-24-2016, 06:29 AM
While this thread has been dormant for several years, I am hoping there are still folks interested in the topic. I have just returned from an extensive outback trip in Nevada which included my pilgrimage to Josie Pearl's cabin. If interest remains, I can post pix of the current condition. I wish I could see the photos posted earlier on this thread, but they are apparently not being hosted any longer.

08-24-2016, 07:42 AM
I also visited there awhile back and will post my pix.


-Chef Juke

08-24-2016, 07:59 AM
I also visited there awhile back and will post my pix.


-Chef Juke

I am so glad to hear from you, Chef Juke! I was definitely hoping you'd catch my post. I will post pix after I'm done cleaning the desert out of my rig and teardrop trailer........I'm definitely eager to see yours. When were you there recently?

08-24-2016, 08:31 AM
Here is a panorama pic of the site in 2014.


08-26-2016, 06:25 AM
I love your panorama. I'm having trouble getting mine to upload (first time with this particular forum system). Will keep trying.

Later. No luck. Even though I reduced their size a lot, they all post very large and as though they're a collage. Guess I won't be able to put them up for you after all; so sorry.