Walt Bickel Heritage Project
Find Gold Here!
Walt Bickel Depression Era Miner Pictured Below in 1974
Buy the Book

Last Chance Canyon: Stories of the El Paso Wilderness  is sold here. Look into Blue Scout's eyes here. These illustrated stories are available in ebook format, and soon in print. Book sales support Bickel Camp protection. This book was generated as part of a documentary film project called Gold, Guns and God by filmmaker Juan Carlos Parades, and photojournalist William Elmore Gann.  The story collection introduces a number of compelling new characters, and is a narrative of the mystics, miners, poets, and outlaws who once lived in and around Last Chance Canyon. New information related to a number of the notable writers associated with this area is here disclosed. Carlos Castaneda, Alex Apostolides, L. Ron Hubbard, and Philip K. Dick had secrets, now told in this new collection. 

Bickel Camp Friends Site
Burro Schmidt Tunnel
Ganns Photo Colllections
Bickel Friends Clean Camp
A Time Travelers Taste for Beef
The Teachings of Don Alex
Contact Bill Gann
Chasing Blue Scout
Outlaw & The Camel Lady
The Many Lives of John Bullock
Smoking Jack,  The Pianoman
 Lonesome Drifter
Mountain Lady
The Star Gazer
Depression Survival, Again
Mojo Mark Aslin
Bickel Photos
BLM Attacks History
Last Chance Cats
Clifford, Cowboy Poet
Last Chance Caveman
Blacky The Stunt Pilot
Black Mountain Encounter
Yahtzee Nights
The  Railroad Man
Bickel Boy
Moonrise Bickel
About Gann
Goodenoughs Camp Tour
Scott Schwartzs Bickel Story
Chuck  Goodenoughs Photos
Death Valley Talk
Off Road Area Guide
Rubicon  Group
Historical Designation
Mexican Nell
The Rose of the Yellow Aster
Twilight Zone Castaneda Forum
History Tours
These pages are dedicated to the preservation of California history using Walt Bickel's life and times as primary source material. Since I've had this site up for many years, Depression Era gold mining has become a smaller part of this site's focus. Here visitors may enjoy reading about the colorful characters who lived in and around Last Chance Canyon in the early Seventies and Eighties. These people were Bickel's neighbors and friends in the El Paso Mountains. It is hoped this site and the stories told here will plant seeds and serve as inspiration for those who seek magical places and interesting people.

Students, educators, scientists, writers, artists, journalists, poets and photographers might find information and muse in the stories here. Once these tales were only told by the canyon's speaking rocks or carried as spirits on the desert wind.

While the 1970 Academy Award short film "The Magic Machines" was made at the camp, it's interesting to note that no one has yet made a film of Bickel's life. This should be done as it's a story worth telling. Chuck Goodenough's Camp tour staring Jose Pablino is a lovely look at how time passed by in the camp. This short film can be accessed from the red button on the left. A History Channel film was made about Burro Schmidt and filmed in near by Randsberg. Burro Schmidt spent a lifetime making a tunnel through a local mountain and became a star of Ripley's Believe it or Not in the process. Perhaps Depression Era gold mining might serve as a basis for the study of history, science, and the arts. Location scouts for the movie industry have so far missed this colorful spot.

Walt Bickel first staked his claim in Last Chance Canyon in 1927, and lived at his famous mining camp from 1934 to 1989. His home is one of the rare gold camps not vandalized or destroyed as an "eyesore" by the Bureau of Land Management in a less enlightened era.

Walt Bickel himself was an incredible person who lived a simple yet instructive life in the California wilderness north of Los Angeles. His cabin, camp and the canyon were declared a historical site in 1972 (See BLM Attacks History button and Historical Designation links) but an ongoing effort continues to insure the area's preservation.

It is hoped you might give support to the Friends of Bickel Camp (see red button on top to link to this group's home page). Hopefully you will join Last Chance Charlie Hattendorf and a group of hard-working volunteers in their efforts to protect the beautiful Last Chance Canyon area. These Friends of Bickel Camp and Burro Schmidt's Tunnel are local people who can be contacted to organize visits and gold mining tours of this rugged high desert area. For example, those interested in Native American rock art can arrange for guided tours in restricted military areas and see magical 8000-year-old petroglyphs in the area. We hope your interest and careful use of the area will help save Bickel Camp for future generations to enjoy.

The links to the left in brown are feature stories about local characters and the red buttons link to related web sites. Peace to all who enter here.

Bickel shown here in his star chair studies the canyon weather. The Shot was taken in 1982.


Thanksgiving at Bickel's was always a special time. This shot was taken in the early Eighties.


Bickel in his cabin in the late Seventies.

Bill Gann Copyright.

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